Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Mommy Guilt

I am beginning to understand what "mommy guilt" is.  I think I have it actually.
When I'm at work, I can't wait to see W. When I'm home, I can't wait to go to bed. I enjoyed my 3 month maternity leave and it seemed like I was always learning something new about W. I'm sure he was learning all kinds of things from me, some good, some bad (if his first words are douche bag ass hat, that's my fault entirely; all other curse words are Daddy's fault).
When I drop W off at daycare,  I don't want to leave him. It's not that I don't trust the caregivers,  cause I totally trust them. It's that I feel bad that I have to leave.  I wish things were different financially. I'm stuck in a job that doesn't pay me what I'm worth and definitely not enough for 2-3 people to live on. T's job is extremely slow at increasing salaries when raises are awarded. I totally picked the wrong career path, but hopefully in a few years I can go back to school and change careers entirely.
Sometimes,  I feel bad that I'm not more of an attachment parent. I wish we had used a side sleeper when we first brought W home. He was in crib by 3 weeks of age, which seems to surprise people.  He sleeps very well in his crib, but I think having a side sleeper would have been nice. He sleeps pretty well in his crib and it's great because he can move around while he sleeps,  which he does.
I haven't really had the opportunity to do a lot of baby wearing, although that was a goal I had while I was pregnant. I have a Moby and Ergo baby but haven't really used either yet. I need to use them. The whole point in getting them was so I/we could go places without the stroller. His father has been a bit overprotective about going out places so we spent a lot of time at home during my leave, which was annoying for me. We had our first social outing September 28, 2013 when we went to a friend's house for a little dinner party. Granted, I have taken W out to meet my co-workers and lunch with Mimzy, Nana and Aunt A, but we haven't gone out much because of Daddy's worries about other people.  I think he needs to chillax.
A lot of my "mommy guilt" comes from things out of my control. W has eczema and I feel awful about it. Although I can't prevent it from happening, I can treat it. It runs in my family;  Mimzy and Aunt A both have eczema.  I have this irrational thought that it's my fault he has eczema. The logical side of me knows it's not my fault but the irrational side is concerned.
I also feel terrible about my breast milk supply. When I pump, I'm not producing enough to keep up with what he is drinking at daycare. I've always had problems with my supply.  Breastfeeding has not been very easy. It's been very difficult and painful and there have been times when all I did was cry because it was so difficult. Right now, I'm having the daycare supplement the breast milk with formula; the pediatrician suggested it. He runs out of breast milk so he gets formula. I feel like a failure. Now, I do realize that there are mothers out there who can't breastfeed at all and thinking of them makes me feel worse because at least I am able to produce breast milk and really, I should be thankful and stop worrying. Well, I'm a worrier and I do feel bad for not producing as much as my son needs while he's at daycare. Frankly, there's nothing wrong with formula and he isn't starving or malnourished (in fact, at his 4 month check-up, he weighed 14 pounds 14 ounces and was 2 feet 1 inch long, so he's definitely growing), so I should just accept it and move on.  Great advice, but I am a worrier and far too guilt-ridden about a lot of things.  I'm one of those people who overthinks everything and because of that, I end up disappointed 90% of the time.
Well, as with many aspects of life, things are going to be OK and work out for the best, but the mommy guilt still lingers.  So I wonder, will mommy guilt ever go away?  That's a question for another day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Back to Work

I returned to work on September 3, 2013 and it was difficult. Originally,  I was looking forward to returning because I missed my co-workers and missed adult conversation, but I was also a bit afraid because I had to leave my son in the care of strangers.

My first day back was hard. I hit the ground running and never really felt caught up. While it was nice to see everyone and hear how everyone missed me, I felt out of sorts and missed my boy. I called to check on W at daycare and he was doing better than I was.

At work, I discovered that a lot of things changed while I was gone. There was new staff, a new law clerk and my first impression was that I didn't care for her. A law clerk I had known for years, and who was a great co-worker,  was moving on to greener pastures. There were a lot of "inside" jokes I heard and didn't get. I was out of the loop and I felt alone.

It's strange returning to work and feeling so out of it. I've never been gone longer than a week until I had W, then I was out 3 months. I missed a lot. Things happened that I wasn't a part of. I also discovered how much my boss (The Judge) and my law clerk missed me and appreciated me. I figured they liked me but being gone 3 months really showed me that they truly appreciate me. It feels kind of nice to be missed.

I know my future at my job is changing. Now I have to leave a little early to pick-up W from daycare. I have to pump at least twice a day (although if I can get 3 times, I feel very accomplished). I have to be more mindful of using my PTO and actually take vacation time, even if we don't go anywhere on vacation. Now, the BS I put up with is just that, BS, and I have more important things in the world to worry about than petty people.

My job has made me a very negative person and my son has melted my icy heart. The negativity of this job is no longer acceptable. For my sanity and for my son I think it's time to look for a more positive opportunity. It's going to take awhile, but it's time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Maternity Leave

My maternity leave is winding down, I return to work on September 3, 2013.  As I get closer to my "return to work" date, I have been reflecting on how my leave has gone.

First, I have to say that I am thankful I was able to take 12 weeks off from my job.  I know that not all employers allow their working mothers to take 12 weeks for maternity leave, I've read on several mommy community sites that several women had to return after 6 or 8 weeks.  Frankly, I wish this country had a better attitude towards maternity and paternity leave.  In England, maternity leave is a year, which I think is wonderful.  It would be great if this country had an attitude like that about leave for employees.  I was saddened that my partner was not able to take paternity leave.  His employer let him take 1 week off to be home with us, which I just think wasn't long enough.  Granted, daddy has been able to bond with our son in the evenings and on weekends, but it just isn't the same.

Because I had a C-section, my mother took care of me while T was at work and I'm extremely thrilled that she did that.  I'm thankful that my mother lives in the same city as me and that she was in a position where she was able to spend Monday through Friday for 5 weeks with me while I recovered and got used to being a new mom.  There's not enough "thank yous" out there for what she did for me.

I haven't had very many visitors while I've been on leave.  Maternity leave, I've discovered, is very lonely, especially if you're healing from a C-section.  I didn't notice the loneliness when my mom was here, but once I was declared healed and cleared to go back to doing normal things (drive, workout, clean house, etc.) and my mom went back to her life, I discovered I was very lonely.  My days were filled with just the baby, which I would not trade for anything in the world, but it would have been nice to have a little more human contact.  Now, in reality, my whining is silly, because all of my friends have full-time jobs and I can't expect people to skip a day of work just to visit me.  That being said, it is a lonely thing being on leave.  I don't miss my job, but I miss the people I work with.  I have the great fortune of working with great men and women, people I enjoy working with and who I enjoy seeing every day at work.  I miss them and look forward to seeing them when I return to work in September.  I don't miss my job, it's not something that makes me happy and it doesn't pay me anything close to what I am worth, but at least I'm employed.  Having wonderful co-workers makes up for the fact that I received my first salary increase since 2006 and it wasn't much of an increase.

I've enjoyed watching my son grow from 1 day old to 3 month old and I think the next 18 years are going to be full of amazing things.  He is truly a gift.  Right now, T and I are trying to work on giving him belly time, so he can develop his ability to lift his head and chest with his arms.  This is all in preparation for him crawling in a few months.  This is something the pediatrician (and every baby book I've read) suggests we do and it's nice to try to help him work on moving.  He has very strong legs and is holding his head up fairly well, he can't sit up by himself, but he's a bit too young to have that kind of strength anyway.  At his 2 month check-up, he already weighed 12 pounds, and he's just getting heavier and bigger (at 3 months old, he's 14 pounds even).  I'm happy he is growing, the first few days of his life, he lost 14% of his birth weight, which is not good, and I struggled to him back to his original birth weight.  Thankfully, by the time he was 2 weeks old, he was .5 ounces over his original birth weight and he's been growing ever since.  He eats very well.  I breastfeed my son but I have nothing against formula.  I had to use formula the first 2 weeks of my son's life to supplement my breast milk, which was very slow coming in.  That's why he lost so much weight, I wasn't producing along the "normal" timeline, because of the magnesium sulfate I had been given during labor for preeclampsia (I talked about my labor in this posting  If it hadn't been for the use of formula those first couple weeks, he would have had to be hospitalized and given an IV.  I'm grateful for the fact that formula exists and that I was able to use it to help my son gain weight and nourishment.  I do not feel superior or believe I am a better mother just because I can now successfully breastfeed, I just am glad I can feed my son.  I tip my hat to all mothers who feed their infants, whether it's with formula or breast milk (this article made an impression on me:  August is National Breastfeeding Month and frankly, I think not only should breastfeeding mothers be protected, but formula feeding mothers should be protected, because they are looked down on and attacked more than the breastfeeding moms; formula moms are made to feel bad for not breastfeeding and frankly, until you know why that mother is choosing to breastfeed, don't judge her, cause she may not be able to breastfeed.  I'm stepping off my soap box now.

During my leave, I spent time looking for and researching day cares.  I researched 20 and narrowed it down to 9 to contact.  After contacting the 9, I interviewed 3 and chose 1.  I'm excited about the place we chose, it is on a quiet street, has a large staff and I think the baby will do well there.  I'm not looking forward to my first day away from him, but it has to be done, we need two incomes in today's economy.  I think he'll fair very well his first day of daycare, but me, well I will be a basket case.

We are also working on figuring out a sleep pattern.  Some nights, I can get him down between 9pm and 10pm, other nights it's 11pm by the time he's sound asleep.  Some nights, he goes down without a fuss and is perfectly content after nursing, other nights he fusses all through nursing and after nursing and needs to be walked around in order to calm down.  He takes about 2-3 naps a day but they don't last very long, maybe an hour if we're lucky.  I'm not sure how any of this is going to impact how he acts at daycare.  Hopefully, he'll do okay and the employees won't hate me when I come pick him up (I hope he doesn't earn the reputation of being a "difficult" baby).

I'm just a few days away from returning to work.  I need to get a few more items for the daycare (diapers and wipes) and I need to get things for myself for work (lunch items).  I need to get out the ironing board, which I haven't used since buying it, and I need to get my pre-pregnancy items ironed.  I need to figure out what I'm wearing my first day back after being gone 3 months.  I need to learn to breathe and not be hard on myself as I return to work.  I've been very hard on myself the past few weeks and I need to just calm down and move forward.  Here's to a calm return to work.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

To My Son (letter #1)

Dearest William,

At the writing of this blog "letter" you are 6 weeks old. You are a healthy baby and, according to the pediatrician, your diapers are also "healthy". Believe me, this is a good thing. You are very loved.

I wanted to say a few things to you before I forgot things. I have a feeling this will be the first of many blog "letters" to you.

I have always known I've wanted to be a mother, ever since I was 10 or 11. I know that seems young but I just always knew. I have dreamt of being a mother more than of being a bride/wife. Being married isn't something I gave a lot of thought to until I was in my 20s. At that point, a lot of my friends were getting married and I kind of began to feel left out. I don't know if this is something guys do, but in many cases when women get married (this only applies to the 20 something women I was friends with cause that's where my personal experience lies) they have a tendency to turn their backs on their single friends and stop spending time with them. In my 20s I felt as if I was being pushed away because I was single and my friends were married so I started thinking about marriage and looking for a husband.  I am embarrassed to admit this to you (and anyone else reading this blog). It makes me come across as pathetic and I admit I was pathetic and lonely and sad. I suddenly had no friends and thought the only way they'd become my friends again was if I joined the "married" club.

Needless to say, my 20s were pretty pathetic. I hated my 20s and hated the whole dating game. I lived in Colorado Springs and found it difficult to meet men I had things in common with. As you will discover, I'm not very outdoorsy and hate camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing and fishing. I used to love skiing but can't afford it now. The majority of Coloradoans enjoy doing the things I hate or can't afford so finding someone I have something in common with was difficult.

Finally, my 30s arrived and things improved. I moved to Denver and met a very diverse group of people through I met some awesome folks and had a lot of fun. I met your pseudo-Aunties Frances, Laura and Carla through Meetin and there are many other men and women I consider friends whom I met through Meetin. I did meet and date 3 men I met at Meetin but they aren't worth mentioning other than to say douchebaggery is alive and well in every area of Denver.

I liked Denver a lot more than Colorado Springs and settled in fairly well. Now, I'm going to say this and it may upset you, but I have always hated living in Colorado. Your grandfather, my dad, moved us to Colorado Springs in 1992 when I was 16 and I never forgave him for that (I know, it's sad that I would hold a grudge like that but I was ridiculously happy in Redlands, California and didn't want to move to Colorado but my feelings were not important at that time). I tried to get back to California but, in hindsight, I took many wrong paths. Looking back I should have gone to college at California Lutheran rather than Pacific Lutheran so I would have been able to stay in California (PLU is in Tacoma, Washington and I had no desire to settle there permanently). Between 1999 and 2010, I sent out numerous applications and resumes to California as well as New York, Washington DC, Hawaii and Chicago, and I even had some interviews (for the Teaching Fellows programs) but did not get hired. While I do like Denver a lot more than Colorado Springs,  I just don't fit in here in Colorado,  hopefully you'll never have to worry about fitting in or "belonging". It's very lonely not fitting in, very lonely feeling like you don't belong. My wish for you is that you never know those feelings.

I stopped looking for out of state jobs when my dad died. He lost his third battle against cancer on July 22, 2010. I'll tell you about him as you get older. He would have spoiled you if he had lived to see you. You would have loved him and his stories. I'm sorry you two never met. Unfortunately, my father would not have liked your daddy (don't tell daddy, it would hurt his feelings). I know my father very well and I know without any doubt that he would not have liked your dad. My dad never got to meet your dad.

Because I want you to have a fun childhood, I plan on going camping and up to the mountains when you and your dad want to go. I want you to love where you live so I won't complain about how much I hate living here, at least not in front of you.

Your father and I are not married and I don't know if we will get married, it's not something we've really talked about. Maybe down the road we will get married. I don't see any difference between being married and cohabitating except that we don't file our taxes together and we don't have the same last name. Even if we were married,  I'd still insist on having separate bank accounts and I'd keep my last name. We're still your parents whether we're married or not. I still love your father and being married won't change that

I cried when you were born. You arrived via c-section and they had a screen that prevented me from actually seeing you. I heard you cry though, as the doctor lifted you out of me. It was the greatest sound I'd ever heard. Daddy brought you over to see me and it was so great meeting you. You were so small and so quiet but we soon learned you had powerful lungs. Your lungs have only gotten stronger over the weeks too.

I'm not really an Attachment style parent but I guess I do do some things that are considered "attachment" parenting. I pick you up and hold you when you cry. I don't want to try the "cry it out" method cause it makes me feel guilty, like I'm ignoring you and I don't want you to think you were ignored. Daddy and I gave you a lot of attention.  Another attachment thing is breastfeeding,  which I didn't realize. You are a breastfed baby. I also want to buy a Moby carrier so I can carry you around as I do things and that is also part of attachment parenting. Now the things that are attachment that I don't do: co-sleeping and breastfeeding past age 2. You slept in our room for several weeks but not in our bed. We've never let you sleep in the bed with us for fear daddy would roll on you in his sleep. Daddy is a deep sleeper and the times you slept in our room, your father never heard you and never realized I had gotten up a few times. He can sleep through anything. Now, we put you in your crib and you're getting comfortable in it. It will be a good space when you get older, you'll have room to play or move around in your crib as you ge older.

I hope that I am a good mother to you. I want to help guide you in learning to love books and finding your creative side. When you're an adult I hope you look back and say you had a good childhood.

I should wrap up this letter. I love you more than anything and you have my heart.

Love, Mommy

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm a mom

The month of May was a long one. I was approaching my due date and was looking forward to the beginning of June.  I was due June 4 and was excited that I would have a June baby because there are a lot of May birthdays on my side of the family as well as on Travis's side.

Well, I was on the weekly doctor visit schedule so I went in every Monday in May to have my blood pressure, swelling of feet/ankles monitored, and protein in urine checked. Things were fine according to the doctor and nurse practitioner.  There was no protein in my urine, which was a good thing. My blood pressure levels were good (also a good thing). The swelling in my feet and lower legs (calves and ankles) was normal water retention. On May 20 (my birthday) I was dilated 1 centimeter and was told it meant I could go anytime between then and June 4. Well, nothing happened the rest of that week.

On May 28, I was still 1 centimeter and all the tests were fine again. Since I had managed to go 8 days being at the same dilation, I figured I'd still be on track to deliver in June. That isn't how it ended up though.

The rest of my story is emotional for me to tell. Nothing went as planned, which I guess comes with the territory of pregnancy.  People keep saying babies come when they want to and well mine definitely decided he couldn't wait.

On May 29 I woke up at my normal time (415am, yes I get up at that time Monday through Friday to get ready for work and yes, it's early. I'm one of those annoying morning people you read about). I had a dull ache in my lower back, nothing that really concerned me so I went about my regular morning routine. I drove to work along my regular route with this dull lower back ache.

As the day moved on, the pain in my back increased and I became nauseous. I got sick right before lunch and felt a wave of fatigue come over me. I originally planned to leave early in order to take our cat to the vet and I stuck to that plan. Several of my coworkers told me not to come into work the next day if my back pain was worse. I left at 330pm and headed home, the pain in my back worse than it had been that morning. When I got home, Travis canceled the vet appointment given my pain situation.  I tried lying down with a heating pad and I tried sitting in the recliner and neither was comfortable.

I ended up getting sick twice, and came to the realization that I was in labor. I timed my contractions (still confined to my back) but they were erratic. My water broke around 830pm and I called Kaiser to speak with the on call nurse about heading to the hospital.  I also called my mother to tell her we were heading to the hospital. Travis and I headed out and arrived at Exempla St. Joseph's around 11pm. My mom arrived minutes after us.

I was admitted and prepped for the Labor & Delivery area of the maternity ward.  The nurse asked me about my pain level and I said on a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 12. I just couldn't handle it and was growing angry at myself cause I wanted to have a natural experience i.e. no epidural.  I'm a pain weenie so I asked for the epidural.  Before being moved to my labor room, I had to give a blood and urine sample. By the time I was assigned a room in L&D, the results of my blood and urine samples were in. I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.  The doctor who came in to inform me explained that preeclampsia is usually treated with magnesium sulfate and that the nurse would be in to have me sign consent forms for the treatment.

I had three IV bags: one giving me fluids, one giving me antibiotics for Group B Strep (which I tested positive for a few weeks earlier), and one giving me the magnesium sulfate.  I also had the fetal heart monitor wrapped around me. The nurse placed a pressure cuff on my arm so my blood pressure could be taken every 3 minutes. The anesthesiologist came in with more forms for the epidural and I was confined to bed. My situation worsened over time. My blood pressure continued to rise to dangerous levels, my platelets were dropping, my kidneys started shutting down, and my oxygen levels were decreasing. When the doctor ordered I be placed on oxygen and the nurse put the mask on my face, I panicked. I couldn't help but think of the last time I saw my dad. He was a patient at the hospital next to the one I was laboring in and he was on forced oxygen. I remember that mask over his face and not really being able to see his lips. His voice was muffled and it was hard to hear him. Now that was me. Oxygen was being forced into my nose and mouth by a mask and yet I felt like I couldn't breathe. No one could understand me when I spoke so I had to move the mask away which made my breathing worse. I was also catheterized because of the epidural, and the doctor wanted to measure my urine output, which was very low.

Somehow I managed to doze off and on. I talked in my sleep a few times and my mom and Travis asked me who I was talking to and I thought I was talking to a nurse. My health continued to worsen and at one point the doctor informed me that there was a possibility that the baby was developing a heart murmur due to the magnesium sulfate and they wanted permission to insert internal fetal monitors for better readings. I signed the consent forms and the new monitors were inserted and attached to the baby. The monitors showed that the baby's heartbeat was normal and very strong. My stats were not good.

On top of the preeclampsia and HELLP, I was also dilating very slowly. When I was admitted, I was 6 centimeters.  It took several hours for me to reach 7 centimeters.  It was around noon on May 30 when I finally reached 10 centimeters and I barely reached it. There was an urgency for the doctors and nurses to get me to 10 centimeters and at 7 centimeters,  I was given pitocin. They wanted me to reach 10 quickly in order to get the baby and placenta delivered. Once the placenta was out, my preeclampsia would go away and having the baby out would avoid any complications for him.

Well, at 10 centimeters, I started pushing but the baby wasn't moving down the birth canal like he should have. At one point, the doctors said they may have to use foreceps or a vacuum to get the baby if I could get him pushed down further into the birth canal. I ended up pushing for 3 hours but with no success. The baby would come down into the birth canal while I pushed but once the contraction was done and I stopped pushing, he'd move up away from the birth canal. I talked with my mom, a former L&D nurse, about my options and came to the realization that the only real option the baby and I had was to have a C-section. No matter how much I pushed, he wasn't going to come down and I wasn't going to deliver vaginally. When the doctors came back I told them I wanted them to "go in and get him", so I signed more consent forms while the doctors explained to me the procedure.  Since this was not an emergency C-section, there were not as many risks involved. There is a risk that other organs could be nicked during an emergency C-section, but in my case they would be able to make a clean and "neat" bikini incision and be careful enough that nicking other organs, or the baby, would be significantly less likely. The anesthesiologist came in to give me more medications to help numb me for surgery.  Travis was given a surgical gown and head and shoe coverings and we headed to a delivery room. My mom and sister were escorted to recovery.

In delivery, the anesthesiologist told me he'd be able to see what was going on and he'd let me know how the baby looked. He also told Travis that he should have his phone out so he can get pictures of the baby once they got him out. It didn't take the doctors long to get William out and it was amazing hearing his first cries. Travis squeezed my hand and the anesthesiologist stood up to see the baby over the curtain; he remarked that our new son was very cute, which made me smile. One of the nurses called Travis over to see William as he was cleaned off and I cried, overwhelmed by the whole experience.  The anesthesiologist handed me a kleenex and congratulated me on my new son. Travis brought William over and I just was so surprised by how calm William was. He just laid there in Travis's arms and seemed perfectly content. The anesthesiologist took Travis's phone and took some pictures of us, which I thought was very nice of him.

We were moved from delivery to recovery and William was given his first bath, he was weighed, measured and given 2 shots. Then my mom and sister got to hold him. The nurses were checking my blood pressure and urine so I had to wait awhile before holding him. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to hold William.  That was the best feeling!  I finally got to look at the person who I had carried and been kicked by for 9 months and he was just so beautiful. He had a head full of brown hair and dark blue-grey eyes. He was 7 pounds 6 ounces,  20 inches long and his head was 13 inches in circumference.

Now, we are approaching his 1 month "birthday". It was a hard month. He lost 14% of his birth weight by day 5 and I had to do a combination of breastfeeding, formula feeding and pumping to get his weight back up. Thankfully by the time he was 2 weeks old, he weighed 7 pounds 6.5 ounces,  was 21.5 inches long and his head was 13.5 inches. As of today (June 28, 2013) William weighs 9 pounds 1.5 ounces. His hair is darker and his eyes are slowly changing. He has birth marks -- stork bites and Mongolian marks -- but I love them. He's even more beautiful now than he was on May 30. The amazing thing is that we made him. He is a great and perfect combination of us and he's wonderful.

Just call me Mommy.