Day 3: Working Mom

Today’s photo is brought to you by pumping in the car! I love my new car, and I love that it has a standard outlet to plug into, but I’d definitely argue that this falls on that less-glamorous end of the spectrum of motherhood. I am extremely proud of my breastfeeding journey, as I’ve mentioned, and pumping has been a huge part of that journey. 

Here’s to working moms. Here’s to the extra things we do to be both parents and professionals, mothers and money-makers, nurturers and bread-winners. Here’s to pumping in the workplace, to employers who help make this possible. 

Day 2

​Today’s #pictureeveryday shows a completely different scene: well- rested, perhaps slightly disheveled, high- energy, eating a delicious (albeit quickly and semi-lazily made) meal in a clean kitchen with a sleeping babe upstairs. Motherhood is such a rollercoaster. I never know what tomorrow is going to bring. We have rhythms we fall into, but every day is so different! (It definitely helps that the migraine is gone…)

Today has been productive. I hesitate to call it easy, because afterall, it wouldn’t have been this way without decided effort on my part. It has meant continuing to try, even after repeated failure to get a #beasty to comply, accepting that it may take multiple attempts and spurts of time to accomplish any one thing. I definitely use my sleeping-baby time a lot more efficiently. I definitely still get frustrated, but catching the frustration, releasing it, and continuing to try is making a difference.

Like I said, each day is different. 

Spring to Spring Photos

​Mommin’ ain’t easy with a migraine. But motherhood isn’t just pretty brelfies and happy babies. Babies cry, parents get sick, support figures need support themselves. Shit happens at inopportune moments, and we have to keep plugging along. Some days suck, and that’s ok. Those days end the same way that the great days end: cuddled in bed with the ones I love most. 

Here’s to not sugar-coating the shit days but also not letting them ruin the great days. Here’s to a new project of mine: a photo a day for the next year, regardless of what kind of day it is, showing honest, raw, uncensored motherhood and family. 

Today, I have a migraine. And I’m by myself with it and the #beasty until this evening. We will be ok. We will take it easy. We will only take on what we can and forgive ourselves for what we can’t. We will get through this less-than-ideal day, and tomorrow we will feel great and accomplish lots.

#momlife #ayearofphotos #motherhood #itsnotallbrelfiesandhappybabies #selflovegeneration #takebackpostpartum #migrainemom #strongmomsraisestrongbabies

On Losing a Bright Star

We lost a dear friend yesterday. I hardly have the words to write the sadness that is in my heart, the collective agony of loss in the countless people whose lives he touched. 

From the first night I met Bill, I knew he had a heart that was bigger than his ample chest could contain. His spirit echoed in the sonorous baritone boom of his voice. He was at once both fierce and soft, kind and firm, gruff but warm. Although we never worked the same shift, I know he was fantastic at his job. I know the kids we worked with knew he cared. I know the staff who worked his shifts respected and trusted him. We all did. And we all miss him more than there are words for. 

Bill gave me a baby shower present shortly before I left on maternity leave last summer. He knew I love Harry Potter, and he knew I planned to read to Beasty; he also knew I had left my books in California. So he brought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I don’t know if he was familiar with Order of the Phoenix or the series as a whole or not, but he certainly knew how to pick them. 

Early in the story, Harry discovers that he can now see skeletal, horse-like flesh-beings called thestrals, creatures only visible to those who had seen death. Luna Lovegood helps Harry see that the thestrals are not to be feared or hated; that they’re misunderstood because of their association with tragedy; that, despite their strange appearance and unfortunate reasons for being seen, there are beautiful and good qualities to be found in the thestrals. Bill had a similar way of seeing the good in a kid, of caring about even our most challenging kids, no matter how the kid presented him- or herself. Like Luna and the thestrals she saw because of unfortunate circumstances, Bill could look at a kid and see past the unfortunate circumstances that brought the kid before him. 

At the end of Order of the Phoenix, Harry loses his godfather; he watches Sirius fall through an archway and slip under the veil hanging there. Harry waits for him to stand back up, half-expecting Sirius to pop through the veil with a wicked grin on his face and the flash of a fight shining bright in his eyes. But it doesn’t happen. And the reality hits: this man, who has stood in in Harry’s father’s stead, who has selflessly supported and loved Harry without condition, is gone. We have waited for a healthy Bill to return to us, but that is no longer to be. And the reality of his absence cannot be dismissed. I still catch myself expecting to hear his laugh booming from the CM office, still half-hope his obnoxiously large chair will be in front of our desk.

Bill, you are so very missed. You have touched so many lives, so many more than I think you realize. The emotions I saw today from our coworkers, from the kids who knew you, scream to the stars that you have been here, that you made a difference to so very many of us. You are so very loved, and our hearts ache as we feel your absence. 

To my EYC family, I love you all. And I feel with you our great loss. We will do right by his memory.

Cluster-feeding Cluster-f**k: Mommy’s Cluster-fed up!

So, between the car accident, several busy days of dealing with the aftermath of said accident, what I suspect is an impending growth spurt and cognitive jump–oh, and possibly a pair of new teeth coming in…we’ve started cluster-feeding again. With gusto.

This girl has literally been latched and nursing all night for over a week. She drains one breast, cries until I switch sides, and drains the other side while she waits for the first side to refill. During the day, she spends a good 60-70% of the day latched. And most of the rest of that time, she’s stuck to me like glue. 

I hit a point about half-way through last week where I desperately needed a break. I was touched out, tired from constant wake-ups through the nights, hadn’t been able to shower in several days…I was not at my Mommy Best. The Mr even tried to take Beasty off my hands for a few hours, but she wouldn’t have it. She just wants and needs me right now. 

I had a bit of a melt-down over all of it on Wednesday. I had gone out to my totaled car to clean it out, was re-confronted with the memory of the accident, and there were too many similarities that afternoon to the night of the accident. Beasty was crying inconsolably. I was running late. I felt flustered as I tried to determine what needed to come out of the vehicle and what was not worth it. I left a lot behind. 

I ended up being late for the doctor appointment (Beasty is growing right on track, hitting milestones either as expected or ahead of time, btw. Proud mama right here.) I had to pee like crazy the whole appointment. I ended up being late to pick up the Mr. And by the time I got to his office, I was in tears. 

As he came and took over driving (especially after the accident, I much prefer the passenger seat), I had the full Mommy Meltdown I’d been putting off for longer than I care to admit. 

They happen, from time to time, the meltdowns. They’ve happened for longer than I’ve been a mom, longer than I’ve been an adult, longer, really, than I can remember. I reach a point where I’ve lost sight of the big picture just trying to get through each day (hello Anxiety, hello Depression, in the flesh). And it all crashes down, at least in my mind, around me. Sometimes there’s a migraine, sometimes it’s just a fog of excessive energy and emotion. I get through it, and I have some clarity about what I missed and how to do better moving forward. It’s easy to see on this side of it, impossible for me to recognize how to stop it when the ship is on its way down. 

And on this side of the meltdown, I find myself determined to do better, to fight against the chaos and clutter in my mind with new tools.

This time, I’m working on calling myself out when I see a behavior that’s a product of anxiety or depression: I call out the behavior (one of my big ones, for example: avoiding making phone calls), find some way to alleviate the anxiety (maybe giving myself 10 minutes to read while Beasty nurses, or walk myself through the phone call, something that brings me into a calmer space), and then I do whatever it is that the behavior was avoiding or affecting (you know, making the stupid phone call). I’m trying hard to catch myself in the act, to make sense of my less-reasonable behaviors and redirect them. 

I hope I can be a good example for my Beasty. She deserves a strong woman as a mother and role model. 

Labors of Love and the Love We Find in Laboring

Friday was World Breast Pumping Day. It came just 4 days after I hit 6 months successfully breastfeeding with Beasty. I was able to accomplish this in part because I pump. 

I pumped early on to help my supply increase, and I pump while at work to maintain my supply and to provide Beasty with food for the 7-10 hours I’m away from her, 3 days a week.

Breastfeeding was something I deeply wanted and feared I wouldn’t get, even before I got pregnant. Almost exactly 4 years before Beasty was born, I had a breast reduction surgery. While I still firmly believe that having the surgery greatly improved my quality of life, it became something that I feared would rob me of an experience for which I longed. 

But I did a lot of research and discussions with my care providers, both at the time of surgery and through my prenatal care, about increasing chances of success. My surgeon took my wishes into account when he did his work. I learned about stimulation techniques, supplements, and pumping patterns and techniques. I had Beasty latch almost immediately, and I refused to give up through struggles with pain and supply. I continue to monitor very closely how much I produce. For me, breastfeeding has very much been a labor of love. For me, pumping has been a huge piece of that labor. 

There have been a number of people, by virtue of their positions at my company, who have helped make pumping a possibility, and to them, I will always be grateful. They may not even know that they did anything, but the 20 minutes, 2-3 times a day, that they gave me have made a huge impact on my life, on my daughter’s life. It might seem like a small thing, but I can’t thank them enough. They have helped me achieve what I thought was impossible.

So here it is: 6 months strong. Six months of natural feeding, of bonding, of establishing benefits for both of us that will trickle down through the years. Here’s to every day that I get to keep doing this, and here’s to aiming for another 6 months. And another year. And feeding another baby (in a few years…) with my body. 

Here’s to what we never thought we could–but did.