Reflections ~ 11 Months as a Mama
Today I’m emotional. Today starts the one month countdown to my babies 1st birthday. Shoot…I’m already crying at the utter thought as I type this out, ah! Next month when we celebrate him, when we sing for him and revel in his pure existence, I’ll be a blubbering mess. I’ll also have a lot of feelings that I’ll need to get down on paper as I praise my son and the mark he’s put on this earth. Right now though, I want to reflect on the past 11 months for myself. I want to try and express how becoming a mom has wildly exceeded my expectations and as everyone said it would, changed my life in ways never imagined. I want to talk about my journey navigating motherhood for the first time and how adding those three little letters to my title completely rocked me.
Winter – Logan was born on December 7th, 2016 at 8:22pm after two days of labor. After another two days in the hospital recuperating we were ready to go home as a tribe of three, yay! We walked in the front door and oh my god our house was freezing cold. Looking back I have no idea why we didn’t put the heat on before going to deliver a baby into the world. My first mama bear instinct kicked in fast and quite dramatically; however this was exasperated by my surging hormones. I thought Logan was going to freeze to death, literally. His little nose was an icicle and he’d only been in the house for 10 minutes. Some introduction to his new home! We put the heat on full blast and while crying through my words Chris and I bundled him up in a cozy swaddle. It took a long ass time for the heat to start doing its job, cue the mom guilt (definition: to believe you suck as a mother). I don’t think I stopped crying for a while and here’s why: as dramatic as this little story sounds, it was glimpse #1 of my motherhood journey, of those maternal instincts just taking over my mind and emotions. I was responsible for keeping this tiny baby alive and how on earth was I going to do that in my house a.k.a The Arctic.
Clearly we all recovered from that nonsense and much of my time that Winter was spent learning how to breastfeed. This is a special topic and personal one to me. I felt very strongly about exclusively breastfeeding my children. This meant breastfeeding on demand for an indefinite amount of time without supplementing with formula and continuing to do so even after solids were introduced. I felt strongly about the bond I hoped it would create (it totally did) and about nourishing him directly from the source, me! This also meant my body would not be mine for a very long time and I surrendered to that idea since this was entirely my choice. I knew it would be very demanding and it doesn’t work for everyone for a variety of reasons. At the end of the day #fedisbest! Lucky for me, I could have (and probably still can) breastfeed an entire community. I was given the gift of over production…which had its pros and cons. Logan nursed every 2-3 hours around the clock for 3-4 months and was blissfully unaware of what I was doing for him :) When he wasn’t nursing, my boobs would quickly fill up all over again, get engorged, and leak everywhere. I changed my nursing pads about 8 times a day/night; I pumped in between sessions and did all I could to not get Mastitis. I got Mastitis. That was the worst and here’s glimpse #2 of my motherhood journey. I was sick with a 103 fever, my boobs were on fire and only a steaming hot shower would give me a few seconds of relief. But I had a newborn so why did I think I could take a shower? I really couldn’t. I had a newborn that needed to eat in an hour so even though the pain made me want to pass out I had to nurse him through it. I nursed him through Mastitis for a whole day until the Antibiotics kicked in (thanks to my sister who scooped it up for me!) I had to wear hot packs on my boobs to keep them at bay for weeks. I also had Nipple Vasospasm from breastfeeding, which is the sudden constriction (or narrowing) of the blood vessels, for the first 6 months of Logan’s life. It felt just as horrific as it sounds. But still I had to feed my baby, so I nursed him right through it for months and would apply warm compresses before and after each session when the pain was overbearing. Lastly, I’ve pumped twice a day during work hours every day since he was 4 months old. I’ve dedicated my life to breastfeeding this kid but didn’t have a clue going in how truly hard and demanding it all would be. I also didn’t know how rewarding it would be either. Like most rewarding things, the good parts just crushed the bad.
Spring – Logan started daycare at 4 months old and I was officially a working mother. I had to learn how to utilize all of my time, down to the last minute. I no longer needed an alarm clock; Logan was and is my wake up. After a quick nurse, I’d get us both ready. I’d prepare his bottles for the day if I hadn’t the night before and pack his bag with whatever essentials he was low on i.e. Diapers, wipes, extra clothes, bibs, etc. He wasn’t walking at this time so I could pop him in a bouncy chair and run around the house like a crazy person. I’d pack the car with all the crap and drive to day care and do the drop off…this was and is a killer and reverts back to mom guilt. If you forgot, mom guilt is when you believe you suck as a mother. After a kiss and a quick snuggle I’d hand him off and walk back to my car with a dagger in my chest. Working so my baby can have the best life is important to me and Chris. Of course I want to be with Logan all day long but I also value my career. I want it all and that’s very difficult when the mom guilt is ripping your heart out. I’m hoping the day will come that I can leave him each day and not lose my breath…I’ll let you know if that ever happens.
Summer – I made a career change…well more of a location change. Here is glimpse #3 of my motherhood journey. Work/life balance truly comes into play when you have kids – time is precious and for me, my time wasn’t being divvied out right. Like I said earlier and in a recent post “Tales of a Working Mother” I had to make a change to my career so I could be the mom I envisioned. I left my NYC job after 2 months of going back and found something better for a million different reasons just 10 minutes away. I was starting to feel better about my crazy mornings and the oh-so-dreaded drop off because I could get to him in a pinch if need be. I could visit him whenever I wanted and had more time with him each and every day. I just wanted more time and for it to slow the hell down. It isn’t slowing down though so I’ll take all the extra minutes I can get.
Fall – I got into a pretty sweet groove with working full time and being a mom 24/7 and let’s not forget a wifey! When Logan started walking at 9 months old, September 7th to be exact, my mornings got a bit tougher. It’s not easy brushing your teeth while your baby goes through the garbage and the cabinets and tries to eat the cat food. I spoke about this in “9 Months ~ An Update” – the difficulties of getting anything done when you have a very mobile and active baby. I’ve learned the magic of distraction though. Sprinkle some cheese doodles or Puffs on the floor and you’re good to go. Also, I'm still breastfeeding but have introduced some yummy warm whole milk to his diet. This is another great distractor that doesn't involve my breasts! And if all else fails, he’s at the point where he just follows me around the house and giggles to himself like how dare she try to vacuum or unload the dishwasher or pee. Where it used to overwhelm me doing the whole juggling act, I’ve adjusted and learned to surrender to the cuteness. He’s turning into such a little man with a personality that shines so bright. Glimpse #3 of my motherhood journey is exactly this - watching this person I created become his own person.
As the weather gets a little colder and autumn slowly turns into winter, I’m reminded of what’s to come – a day so special that it is hard for me to properly articulate why. A few things will happen on December 7th, 2017 other than my baby going from months old to years old. I will relive my pregnancy - 9 months of holding him safe before ever meeting him. I will relive the day he was born and all the little details that got him here. I will relive this past year, my first year of motherhood, and analyze if I did a good job. All in all, I will celebrate the life of my precious babe and hug him just a little bit tighter.
Note: I think it goes without saying that all of these phases had the added bonus of sleep deprivation. We still don’t sleep and I’m really wondering what that’s all about. More on that another day :)