Christmas Eve rolled around, and I was beyond thrilled to be in the midst of the holiday season and Cole’s first Christmas. Trump had given us off Christmas Eve, and I had decided to take off the rest of the week to have a nice long holiday with Cole, so I was more than excited. That is, until Cole decided that was the night his sleep regression would begin. Merry Christmas to us!!
Cole was a pretty darn good sleeper starting around 2-3 months. From day one I stuck to a consistent bed time routine: Bath, turn lights down, turn on noise machine, lotion, new diaper, sleeper, swaddle, nurse, then lay him down in his bassinet once he fell asleep between 8:15-8:45 every single night. He’d usually sleep until about 1:30-2:30, I’d nurse him quietly in the dark, and he’d fall asleep again until 6:30ish. It. Was. Wonderful. And oh how I miss those days.
People at work laughed and said “no way that you have a 3 month old, you look so well rested.” I was! And I felt good! And I changed absolutely nothing about his routine, but here we are in the beginning of February and he’s getting up 3-5 times a night. Sometimes wanting to nurse, other times wanting held and rocked back to sleep. And I can feel my sanity slowly melting away, especially when I drag myself to work in an exhausted haze every morning. It’s days like this I almost wish I could be a SAHM, because at least I might be able to sneak in a power nap if I weren’t at work.
At the beginning of this I was hopeful when I would read other people’s experiences. “My baby’s 4 month regression only lasted 2 weeks!” “My little one regressed for one month only!” Well, I’ve learned not to compare Cole to other babies, because at this rate his 4 month sleep regression is going to run into the expected 6 month sleep regression next week.
I think the hardest part about these early months being a first time mom is that you just don’t know what’s normal. Books and blogs and websites can give you ideas, sure. But every baby is so different, and what works for one baby might not work for the next. I’ve gotten every piece of advice out there from other mommas about how to get Cole to sleep. I’ve been recommended everything from “let him cry it out”, to “just nurse him to sleep until he isn’t interested anymore”, and even “don’t change a thing, let him tell you what to do.” And while every momma and person giving advice is doing so with the best intentions, I know that we will just have to try a few things and see what works for us.
I’m hoping that we get back into our good sleep habits soon, but I’m trying so hard to see the positive in this. I try to keep in mind that this is just a season, and some day he will sleep (dear God, I hope so at least). For now, I get through every night time wake up by holding Cole tight knowing that each time is one time closer to the last. 💙
Like most of the world, I was absolutely shocked and saddened when I heard of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter GiGi, and the other 7 people aboard the helicopter, two others being 13 year old girls. Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend, and had started a new phase of life after retirement to include coaching his daughter’s basketball team and continue to raise his four daughters.
But, I’m not writing this blog about Kobe. I’m writing this blog about his wife, Vanessa.
I’ve never met Vanessa Bryant, and I’m 99.9% sure I never will. But I can tell you I cried for her. My heart hurts for her.
Becoming a mom has allowed me to view the Kobe tragedy with an entirely different perspective. I cannot fathom receiving the kind of news that Vanessa Bryant received on Sunday, and I pray to God that I never have to. To lose a child is one terrible life-altering thing, but to also lose the love of your life and partner in the same moment? That is unspeakable. It gives me chills. It turns me to God to pray and ask that he please never give me THAT kind of pain. On top of it all, she has to grieve in the eye of the public and paparazzi. I do pray to God that they give her space and time before hounding her with questions and stalking her for pictures.
I also am hurting for Kobe. I saw a post on Facebook where someone described what his final moments were probably like. They had talked about how in that split second, when he knew the helicopter was going down and the end of his life was nearing, his first thought was probably of his daughter. In that moment, he was unable to protect her, and he knew that. What a crushing feeling as a parent, to be THAT helpless. We do everything we can each and every day to make sure our kids are safe, happy, and healthy. There will always be things that happen when we can’t protect our children, we just have to pray that during those times God will take care of them.
I will likely think about Vanessa Bryant more often than I ever would have prior to Sunday, and I’ll probably include her in on my prayers too. Because I can only imagine the amount of pain she is experiencing right now – and there is power in prayer.
I’ve always loved Christmas. I love the lights and decorations, the colors, gift giving, Christmas music, church, the family time, and the tree. I knew that becoming a mom would change everything, and as expected, the holidays are completely different as well.
Mitch and I are super lucky to have families who we enjoy spending time with, especially during the holidays. Our holidays are always full of delicious food, beer, wine, Cinch, poker, laughs, and reminiscing with the people who mean the most to us.
In years past we only had ourselves to worry about, and simply make sure we went home to let the dog out after a good many hours. Now a days, preparing for an all day affair of family time and sometimes driving between locations took some planning – and some accepting that our comfortable easy schedule would need to be altered.
Surviving the holidays meant accepting that planning was key and we can no longer just pick up and go quickly. Everything from showers, outfits, nursing schedules, packing extra diapers and clothes, and making a side dish or dessert had to be figured out way ahead of time, with extra time built in “just in case”.
A few things that helped us survive our first major holiday with a little one:
1. Accept that baby doesn’t care about your holiday plans, or if you sleep at all the night before (Cole began a growth spurt/sleep regression Christmas Eve resulting in very little sleep for me – Merry Christmas momma!)
2. Pack the extras you think you need, plus a few more (diapers, wipes, outfits, etc. You can never have too many!)
3. Try* to plan feedings so you can “feed and run”, that way you aren’t searching for a family-free place to nurse as soon as you get there or as soon as you get home (key word is to try, again, baby doesn’t always have the same plan you do 🙂)
4. Go. To. Christmas. Eve. Mass. Don’t try to go Christmas morning at 8am like we did! We were exhausted from the lack of sleep, and evening of festivities the night before. But still somehow drug ourselves out of bed and took Cole to Christmas Mass. Never again. 🙂
5. And as always, do as much as you can ahead of time.
I am very fortunate that our families absolutely love Cole and very gladly take him off my hands at family gatherings. It gives Mitch and I a much needed break sometimes, and a chance to play some Cinch. 😉
The holidays always have a way of making you so aware of how blessed you are. We are blessed to have happy and healthy families. We are blessed to have a happy and healthy almost 5 month old little dude. I truly can’t wait to create new holiday traditions with our little family, as well as continue to embrace the traditions we have been doing for many years. We are looking forward to hopefully many many decades of holiday celebrations with Cole and our families to come.❤️
One thing I have learned through a lot of trial, error, and laughter is that changing a baby boy is a totally different experience than changing a baby girl. Diaper changing should be an Olympic event, in my honest opinion.
From day 1, there have been many many MANY eventful diaper changes. In the beginning, Cole had this unique talent of peeing out the side of his diaper. His diaper wouldn’t even be remotely full, yet he would end up with a huge wet spot of pee on his onesie. It still remains a mystery as to how this happened, but in those early sleep deprived and exhausted days – it was a very frustrating mystery.
It took this new momma a number of fails to learn some tricks of the trade. In my exhausted haze, I would often forget to “cover him up“, which would often result in pee on the wall, changing pad, and sometimes even on Cole himself. 🤦🏻♀️ But, since then I’ve learned some good diaper hacks, like putting the clean diaper under the dirty one so it’s ready to go, and keeping a box of tissues right beside the changing table to toss on top of him in case of a mid-change pee.
Diaper changes now a days have become a lot less crazy, and are actually fun. Cole is most talkative and interactive on the changing table – go figure! But, the one diaper change fiasco that will forever be my blackmail story for when he’s older is one for the record books…
Cole was 3 weeks old the day that Mitch got laid off from Norfolk Southern. That afternoon, a bunch of his friends who also were laid off came over to our house. There was lots of bitching, lots of laughing and joking, and lots of drinking. Understandably, Mitch got a bit drunk that night and fell asleep on the couch after the guys left.
Shortly after Mitch fell asleep I heard Cole poop, so back to the changing table we went. I put the new diaper under him, and grabbed his legs to wipe his bum, and pulled his bum off the table like any other time. Suddenly, Cole let out a loud grunt and poop flew across the room.
When I say poop flew across the room, I legitimately mean that it flew across the room and landed on the wall 5 feet away. There. Was. Poop. Everywhere. And obviously, we are not talking about formed turds here. We are talking mustard yellow seedy infant poop on the wall, the changing table, the carpet, the lamp, and literally just everywhere! The kind that smears when you touch it, and runs down the wall and gets in behind the heat run.
At this point, there was no need (or ability) to wake my drunk hubby up. I could have cried, because God knows I did a ton of that during those early days. But instead, I laughed. I laughed for a while before I decided how to tackle this mess. I took a picture to memorialize this wonderful mom moment, sent the following SnapChat to all of my friends, cleaned up the poopy mess, and put Cole to bed. It’s probably one of my favorite stories to tell, and surely it’s one I will remember for all of his life.
I’ve come to really appreciate all of the bloopers. The times when things just don’t seem to go as planned are almost always the most memorable and the kind of times that leave you with a funny story. We’ve had plenty of these already, and there are so many more to come.
I’m one of those very lucky women who can say she has a very supportive husband who loves to interact with his child. Cole is 4 months old tomorrow. He’s smiling, squealing and babbling a lot more often, recognizing us, getting closer to sitting up and rolling over, and becoming more and more fun every day! Don’t get me wrong, this is a FUN time in his infancy! But, he’s not mobile, he’s still very fragile, and not big enough for daddy to drag him out to the garage to get dirty just yet. Knowing this, I had worried that Mitch wouldn’t want to be as involved with him until he was bigger and could have more fun with him. But, boy was I wrong (and I’m glad I was wrong).
I’ll never forget the day, it’s kind of burned into my brain. Cole was 3 weeks old, it was a Tuesday (the day after Labor Day ironically) when Mitch got the phone call he’d been dreading for months. We were in bed and Cole was still sleeping when Mitch’s phone rang. He answered it, talked for a minute, and hung up. He said, “Well, I’m laid off. I lost my job.” After nine years with Norfolk Southern, he was getting laid off while I was on maternity leave and collecting smaller paychecks. Adjusting to life as first time parents is not easy in prime conditions, so adding the stress of losing a job feels like weight the size of an elephant on your chest. I won’t speak for my husband about this part (he may do that another time), but I will say it was a challenging time for him. In the days that followed, we teamed up and updated his resume, applied to countless jobs, and reached out to our connections. Thankfully, my extremely hard working jack-of-all-trades husband was able to get another job in one week.
Aside from the time I spend with Cole myself, my favorite thing to do is watch Mitch interact with him. One of the best feelings in the world is seeing my husband be a daddy to Cole and know that Cole has such an amazing man to learn from as he grows. Even though a large number of Cole’s needs are met by me, Mitch definitely helps me out in other ways. He occasionally washes pumping parts and bottles, does diaper changes in the evenings, tries to support me during those difficult middle of the night feedings and diaper changes, helps with baths, and entertains Cole while I’m trying to accomplish chores or dinner (and speaking of dinner, Mitch has stepped up and been cooking a LOT more than pre-Cole). Most recently, he stayed at home with Cole on a Friday night while I went out with some of my best friends for dinner and drinks – which entailed handling his last feeding of the night and putting him to bed. He knows that mommy needs a break sometimes, and is always willing to give me that.
I can’t help but love the connection that Cole and Mitch are starting to develop. Mitch can definitely make Cole do his “silent laugh” better than I can (soon to turn into an audible giggle, and I CANT WAIT for that).
So, this week is a dedicated little shout out to my other half. You’re an amazing husband and daddy and we love you so very much. Cole and I are so lucky that you’re ours. ❤️
So, I was racking my brain trying to decide what my next blog topic would be, when I realized something. I very luckily have a few AWESOME friends who have ALSO had babies within the past year. Each of these ladies are so special to me as friends, and I valued their insight while I was going through my pregnancy, and I still talk to each of them about our little babes. So, I conducted a small Q&A for my lady friends and I. I hope you all enjoy. 🙂
Q: How old were you when you had your first baby? How many children do you have now? Who is your spouse and how long have you been together? What is your current job?
Ashley: I was 25. My son Bowen is 5 months old. I’ve been with Jeremy for 6.5 years. I’m an Ultrasound/Echo Technologist.
Carly: I was 31. My perfect little man Dominick is 6 months old. Blake, my bar scene catch 😉 and I have been together almost 7 years and married for 2 of those. Holy smokes does time fly! I just started a new position when I was done with my maternity leave as a Payroll Accountant in Pittsburgh. Best decision I made when coming back to work! I love my new job.
Lindsay: I was 30 when I had my son Cole, and he’s my first baby. I’m married to my husband Mitch, we’ve been together for 7 years and married for 3. Currently I am the Administrative Officer for Connected Care at the Altoona VA Hospital.
Paulina: I was 24. I have 2 girls ages 2 years old and 2 months. I’ve been with Eric for 9 years. I am a Special Education Teacher.
Q: What was the best part about being pregnant? What was the worst?
Ashley: Best: No headaches! Worst: Being exhausted all the time and not being able to sleep on my belly.
Carly: Best: Feeling him move and kick inside of me. Worst: Being totally uncomfortable at the end. I had extremely swollen legs and feet that hurt.
Lindsay: Best: Knowing that our child started out so tiny and was growing. I loved feeling him kick, even though it was super weird sometimes! Worst: The nausea from weeks 6-16. I was also on a work detail traveling all over the south-eastern part of the country for the first 2 months, and hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant. So going through all of that without having anyone but my husband to talk to was emotionally difficult.
Paulina: Best: feeling the babies move and hearing their heartbeat. Worst: being sick and exhausted constantly, being pregnant during the summer when it’s hot.
Q: What was the best part about your childbirth experience?
Ashley: The awesome nurses I had and getting to meet my baby boy!
Carly: Having my mom and my husband by my side through it all. They both got me through the tough parts.
Lindsay: The best part about my childbirth experience was that it went particularly smoothly, and quickly! I went to my doctor appointment at 1:45, the doctor told me I was already 4-5cm dilated and sent me to the hospital. The doctor there broke my water and a few hours later, Cole was born! I will never forget when they laid him on my chest and my husband and I were looking at him, and he immediately picked up his head!
Paulina: Having a successful vaginal delivery after a C-section. They didn’t think it was going to happen because I was progressing so slowly.
Q: If you could redo your childbirth experience, what would you change or do differently?
Ashley: Going for the c-section the first time around instead of being induced twice – haha.
Carly: Not vomit during pushing. Though I can’t actually change that because my hormones did it to me, that’s what I wish didn’t happen. I would have had my son in this world a bit sooner if that didn’t interrupt me. Otherwise, it was long but I enjoyed all of it looking back.
Lindsay: I don’t really think I would change anything, but if I could do things differently I think I would have tried getting up and moving around during labor and contractions instead of staying in my hospital bed. My mind wasn’t capable of thinking about it at the time! My contractions went from 0-100 after they broke my water.
Paulina: Try to be induced earlier in the day. Waiting until almost noon made the day drag and I was so tired when it was time to push.
Q: What is your favorite memory with your child so far?
Ashley: I can’t pinpoint a specific memory, but I love coming home to him after work to that smile. And watching Jeremy be a dad, making him laugh and the way Bowen lights up with him.
Carly: I have many which I know all moms do. I think the one that takes the cake right now is when I picked him up from daycare recently, he woke from a nap as they picked him up and when he opened his eyes, he saw me. He immediately put both arms out and leaned to get to me. That was his biggest intentional “I want mommy” motion yet and I turned into a puddle.
Lindsay: There are so many moments with Cole that I treasure, I feel like every day is new and special. But, my favorite memory so far is probably many of our mornings together during my maternity leave. I just loved waking up knowing I had all day to spend snuggling with him.
Paulina: When Maddie met her baby sister Bella, seeing them together is the best!
Q: What is the hardest part about being a mom?
Ashley: I think being mentally and physically exhausted most days but you have to keep going for them. And the constant worrying!
Carly: Feeling like no one understands how I feel some days. I can’t verbally explain how I feel without feeling guilty or selfish about it or someone giving me their woes to “match” mine.
Lindsay: The hardest part about being a mom is trying to balance all of the responsibilities. Between work, keeping up with daycare stuff, cooking, cleaning, laundry, groceries, dishes, and trying to be an attentive wife and friend, sometimes I feel spread so thin. Some days I think, “how the hell would I ever manage life if I had another baby someday?!” I think for the most part you just figure it out as you go!
Paulina: Trying to function on little amounts of sleep while battling terrible anxiety. I feel like a complete zombie some days.
Q: How have you changed as a person since becoming a mommy?
Ashley: I’ve become a softy. I cry over everything and look at the world a lot differently.
Carly: I feel stronger with my confidence most days. It’s hard to explain in words but even on the days I feel like a total mess and I didn’t get a single thing done and my anxiety sky rockets, I feel accomplished when I look at him.
Lindsay: I’ve learned to be more patient and that sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and let go of control. I’m a very type A personality, and it’s been hard for me to accept that I can’t make everything perfect. It’s not possible. But if I just do my best every day, that’s enough.
Paulina: Everything has changed, but it’s been a blessing! I am more busy and tired than I ever have been, but there’s so much love.
I think this is my favorite blog post to date, and I will likely defer to my panel of new mommas again in the future. 🙂 They say, “it takes a village”, and I totally believe that. Without my village, I’d be lost. ❤️
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Childbirth is a beautiful thing. I mean seriously, how romantic and miraculous is it that a woman and a man are able to create another human being (or even multiple human beings) that is half you and half your favorite person in the world? That these human beings start off no bigger than the tiny tip of a needle and eventually grow to be full size adults capable of so much? It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. And it’s also disgusting and weird and involves a lot of “why the helllllllll is this happening to me” for the woman…
<< This blog is not for the easily offended, I’m gonna get pretty real and maybe a little personal. So go ahead and stop reading if you’re a snowflake. 🙂 >>
I could go on for days about this subject, but to keep myself in check I will only highlight my top three “WTFs” of postpartum motherhood so far, and the 9 months of pregnancy that I just completed.
Pregnancy WTF #1: Seeing that blue line is surreal, no matter how much you wanted to be pregnant
-We were very, very lucky. We didn’t have to try for very long before I was blessed with a positive test. We had the conversations. We were planning this and consciously wanting to start our family. But boy, was I not expecting how scary seeing that positive test would be. I did the test by myself, got in the shower and cried tears of fear as “wtf did we just do?!” ran through my mind. Our lives felt pretty complete. We travel. We have great friends. We have fun. Why did we decide to rock the boat? Then, I thought to myself, I can’t have another beer or glass of wine for 9 months. Crap! I waited to tell Mitch the next day, because I wanted to do something special. I think we both had many moments of panic, but then were able to become excited and enjoy the process.
Pregnancy WTF #2: I think I single handedly paid for the retirement of the Always Pantyliner’s CEO
Well, enough said.
Pregnancy WTF #3: We “got what we wanted, right?”
Prior to finding out we were having a little man, we definitely both were hoping for a boy. A few of our close friends had found out they were having boys, and the thought of our child having a small group of close friends all of his life was so fun to think about. Mitch was lucky enough to have a close knit group of friends growing up – who he remains close friends with to this day – and I really wanted that for our child. We kind of figured we would end up having a girl, since we were hoping so much for a boy. So when we popped the balloon and it was blue, I was happy – yes. But, I also was kind of sad. I’d also kind of wanted it to be a girl. I’ve had dreams of being able to have a little girl to teach to play volleyball, to play dress up with, pick out prom dresses for, and to have as close of a friendship with as I have with my own mother. As long as God agrees, I don’t think we are done building our family. And I just hope a little girl is in the future plans!
Postpartum WTF #1: They hand you this baby in the hospital, give you a few breastfeeding pointers, and ship you home in a day and a half with some thick pads, a spray bottle, and a tiny human who can’t talk
Thank God Cole was a healthy big boy and my delivery went very well, so we only had to stay overnight two nights. However, I remember that last night in the hospital being so scared to go home. I kept thinking, “I can’t do this knowing a nurse isn’t a button away”. And honestly, that drive home from the hospital was scary too. I couldn’t believe we’d just become parents and we were going home to figure this little man out by ourselves. I never Googled so much stuff in my entire life as I did those first few days home (thank God they don’t charge). One of my friends told me to ask the nurses as many questions as I could while I was there, but it’s funny how sometimes I felt like I didn’t even know what to ask! The truth is, so much of parenting is just trial and error, patience, prayer, and taking it one day at a time.
Postpartum WTF #2: The baby blues are real, and really hard
So I’m going to get serious for a minute. When I read about or was told about the “baby blues” I really wasn’t sure what that meant. Friends even said “your hormones will be all out of whack”, and I thought to myself “oh ok”, and didn’t know the magnitude of it all. For the first few weeks, I was a hot mess. Crying at least 10 times a day, very often totally sobbing. Sometimes I knew why I was crying (more exhausted than I’d ever been, physically in pain in a lot of places, scared I wasn’t doing something right, unsure how to deal with Cole’s crying, unsure what he needed, anxiety through the roof, etc.), but there were many times I had no idea why I was crying. And honestly, I had feelings of doubt. Feelings of regret. As a first time mom stuck in the thick of it made it very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when you have no idea how long the tunnel is. It was the most difficult few weeks of my life, and I’m so thankful I had an amazing village to support me through it.
Postpartum WTF #3: Did I brush my teeth today? When was my last shower? How many days straight have I worn these sweatpants?
In the first few weeks after coming home, these were real questions I asked myself. And surely most moms fresh out of the hospital with a newborn ask themselves the same things. Some days I wouldn’t even get around to making breakfast until 11:30am. Most days I made coffee, and reheated it at least 4 times before finishing it. I went from showering and washing my hair every single day, to showering every other day and washing my hair….. occasionally. It’s amazing how when you have a baby to care for, you truly let yourself go – and for the most part, you’re ok with it.
As I’m sitting here finishing this blog post, I’m rocking Cole to sleep. I took an extra long look at his precious little face, and try so hard to memorize every line and curve. With Thanksgiving being just a few days away, we have so much more to be thankful for this year.
So, one aspect of motherhood I wasn’t quite prepared for was how difficult it becomes to do the things that were once very simple. One of those things, for example, is picking things up while holding Cole. He’s famous for spitting out his pacifier, especially when I forget to clip it to his shirt. I’ve found that my toes and feet have developed a new skill set since having Cole. I’ve also mastered turning on the night light with my foot, because I’d never risk waking him by bending over after spending 20+ minutes rocking him to sleep.
Another thing I seemingly always took for granted pre-motherhood was being able to quickly and easily pick up and leave to go wherever I wanted to go. While I really have made progress in this department over the last three months, I laugh when I think back to my first few outings with him. To get out the door at 11am, I had to start at 8:00. Shower. Do my makeup. Do my hair. Pack diaper bag. Wake him up. Change diaper. Feed him. Burp him. Lay him down and pack up the car. Change diaper again before leaving. Finally get out the door and rush around wherever I was going in order to be back home within the 2 hour window so I wouldn’t have to breastfeed in public. It was just so hectic and stress-inducing! Thankfully, we’ve definitely trimmed the amount of time down, and I can get out the door a lot faster than I used to.
Once you’re successfully out the door, however, all bets are off. Outside of the comfort and security of home, nothing is easy. It shocks me how difficult new moms (actually, moms in general) have it. There are no special parking spaces close to the door for moms with infants or families. There are no convenient designated places to breastfeed in most places. I’ve even found that some bathrooms don’t have changing tables! And in the bathrooms that do, sometimes the trash can is across the room from the changing table. And you forget wipes? Diapers? A change of clothes? You’re SOL (thankfully I’ve always been overly prepared, but I’m sure the day will come when I forget something critical).
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the story that inspired the name of my blog.
Every year my mom and I hit up every fall festival in the area that we can. It’s definitely an obsessio… I mean… a tradition 🙂. Our favorite is the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival. We stock up on our favorite candles from one particular candle maker, and just always enjoy the day. It’s about an hour drive from where we live, and we usually stay for a few hours. This year, however, would be different than all the years prior now that Cole is in the picture. Taking an almost 2 month old baby to something like this takes some planning. So I over-prepared myself with a hundred items on my checklist and the day for the festival came.
The part I wasn’t prepared for, though, was how to handle my first diaper blowout while in a public place. We found a bathroom inside a little church hall in the area of the festival, and there were a line of women waiting to use it. So here I am, in the bathroom changing Cole. All is going normally. I open up the diaper bag, remove my travel changing pad, put it on the changing table, put Cole down, open diaper bag, grab clean diaper and wipes, take off Cole’s soiled pants and onesie, roll them up and put them in the diaper bag, open the dirty diaper, clean him up, then put he clean diaper under him. Doing good! Then, just as I’m closing up his new clean diaper, he grunts loudly and poops everywhere. It came out the side onto his new clothes, too. So here I am, newbie mom standing in this bathroom surrounded by women waiting to use it, and they all most definitely see what happens. I’m mortified. How the F do I deal with a huge poopy mess in front of all of these people?! So, I take a deep breath, start nervously profusely sweating, and start trying to navigate through the poopy mess without making myself look incompetent.
Meanwhile, a nice little old lady walks in. I’m pretty sure she saw the sweat dripping down my face and the clear look of embarrassed panic, and says, “Ooohhhh boy, buddy you’ve created quite the mess for your mommy.” I responded, “As you can see, I’m new at this.” For whatever reason, I felt like I had to justify my awkwardness. I had to make it known, “there’s a reason why I’m fumbling around with these poopy clothes and diaper and trying like hell to make this look smooth”. But, what I didn’t realize then is that it was ok. No one probably even noticed, or cared. But we mommas are just sooooo damn hard on ourselves, and forget that as long as our babies are happy, healthy, warm, fed, and clean – it doesn’t matter at all how we get them there.
I’ll be totally honest, I’m a crier. I cry when I see bad things happen to people I barely know. I’ve cried during episodes of Friends that I’ve watched 15 times. And I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I did during the first 6 weeks of Cole’s life, #Hormones.
So, I knew I’d cry when I had to go back to work and take Cole to daycare, but I wasn’t totally sure how I would feel. Would I even be able to focus at work because I would be worrying so much? Would I be relieved to have 8 straight hours without a baby attached to me? And the truth is, a little of both.
When I pulled up to the daycare, I already had tears in my eyes. I was biting my bottom lip and telling myself, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.” But, as soon as I stepped in that door and they said “How we doing mom?” the floodgates opened. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that dropping Cole off was almost harder than childbirth. What scares me the most though is knowing that I will have so many moments exactly like that in his life. Whether it’s watching him ride a bike without training wheels, drive away for the first time after getting his license, or dropping him off at college.
I did learn a few very valuable lessons during that first week, though. It was a hard week and adjustment, but we survived and did pretty well! So, here are a few things that helped our week go smoothly:
Buy waterproof mascara, seriously
….and lots of Kleenex for car and work
Create multiple to do lists: one for the evening, one for the morning, and one for each day of the week. This was CLUTCH. I split up my cleaning throughout the week days so my weekends can be spent with Cole and Mitch. Even though by the time I get home, do dinner, clean up, wash all the bottles and baby things, feed Cole, do some laundry, etc. then pretty much go to bed – it’s worth it for the free weekend.
Do as much as you can the night before, like almost everything. I hate showering the night before work, but doing so has saved me lots of time and stress.
Write an “Out The Door Checklist” and literally keep it on your way out the door. Mine says, “Keys, phone, purse, diaper bag, pumping bag, Cole’s milk, breakfast, lunch, ID badge”, because when you’re exhausted and stressed, just leaving with clothes on is a challenge.
Build in an extra 10-15 minutes in case of a blowout, spit up, or whatever.
Last and most important: give yourself some extra time in the morning with your baby and enjoy smiles, laughs, and snuggles.
So, I did it. I survived the first week of daycare and back to work! I was early every day, didn’t forget a single item, and felt kind of like a superwoman. Cole, on the other hand, is now fighting his first cold. And once again I am reminded to go with the flow, take each day as it comes, and learn as we go. Because no matter how well you plan, there’s typically always a curve ahead in the road.
“Your blood pressure is elevated and there is protein in your urine – you’re probably going over to the hospital”, the nurse said before the doctor walked in. It was Monday, August 12th and I had just spent the entire weekend walking 8-9 miles and bouncing endlessly on my huge exercise ball. I was 39 weeks and 5 days, had two false labors up to this point, and was so over being pregnant. But once the doctor walked in and checked me, said “you’re also 4-5cm, I’m sending you to the hospital”, things got real and for the first time, scary. This was at 1:45-2:00pm, and Cole Joseph made his entrance into the world at 8:26pm.
The entire day went so fast but so slow at the same time, which is exactly how I would describe these past 12 weeks of maternity leave. The days and nights seemed to last forever, yet I feel like I blinked and here we are 12 weeks later.
As someone who hadn’t been closely involved with caring for infants, this was the scariest and most challenging 12 weeks of my entire life. The first 2 weeks were a total blur of sleepless days and nights, crying, frustration, fear, poopy diapers, painful cluster feeding, lots of Google searches, and many times questioning whether or not I could even do this. As a very Type A personality, it was so hard for me to let go of control and just go with the flow, to learn as we went and not be able to fully control things.
If I’m being completely honest, I found it very hard to feel a connection with Cole at first. But seriously when you think about it, you birth this baby, they put him on your chest and say, “Here ya go, good luck!” All of a sudden you’re thrust into having to figure out this tiny confused human that you just met, who can’t communicate his needs to you. I remember being so petrified in the hospital thinking, “what if he just stops breathing?” and literally not sleeping more than 5-10 minutes at a time for the first few days.
It amazes me to see how far Cole and I both have come in just under 3 short months. Cole is now smiling, babbling like a wild man, and growing like a bad weed wearing 3-6m and 6m clothes. I’ve become much more confident in myself as a mommy and have started to become more comfortable with my new lifestyle – oh, and I’ve had far fewer near-miss pee and poop incidents (more to come on that – Cole has taught me to never start a diaper change without having a tissue or wash cloth ready to cover the pee canon). And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
And now I find myself at the end of one challenging phase and the beginning of another: becoming a working mom and taking Cole to daycare. The mom guilt is so real, even though I know that working is necessary for our family and for me. This past week, I tried so hard to savor every uninterrupted snuggle, smile, and play mat time – and did not care about the dishes in the sink, dog hair on the floor, and laundry waiting. Cole has taught me that you won’t make many memories folding laundry like you will reading him a book or holding him tight.
I’ve done my typical Type A diligence and over-prepared myself by reading posts and articles, creating multiple check lists, writing down different routines to try out, and have every little thing I think I’ll need (plus some extras) in hopes of surviving tomorrow. But most importantly, Cole has taught me that if everything DOESN’T go perfectly – that’s ok too.