This is a different hard

It’s 7 p.m. and I’m home alone with the girls – who are miraculously both asleep at the moment. I should feel overjoyed right now, but I don’t. I feel kind of sad. I’m sitting on the floor of the nursery remembering how many blog posts I wrote as I struggled in our last season with a newborn. That was so hard, and this is a different hard. 

Bedtime was tricky tonight. Baby didn’t want to be put down without screaming, and big sister was overtired and clearly feeling shortchanged. Bedtime stories were cut short, routines amiss and mom’s back cramped from the one-armed infant hold…the other hand always holding a book, or pouring milk or opening the door to let dogs in and out. 

There’s so much joy in this season, so much awe and wonder as your family expands and you’re granted the most precious gift. It’s so magical it rarely feels real.

But there’s also a great deal of fatigue and monotony and robotic-ness. Of questioning your abilities and feeling guilty you’re not more grateful, always wondering “how will I do this all again tomorrow?” There’s contemplating if you’ll survive this new life with a fulltime job starting back in a few weeks – with even less of yourself to give.

The part that is hardest is the nagging feeling that one kiddo is always being slightly neglected while the other is tended to, and the awareness that you miss your spouse who is often home at the same time – even in the very same room – but right alongside you in the messy tagteam. 

On paper of course we’re doing enough. They’re thriving. These challenges and transitions are necessary and normal. But it’s hard. It doesn’t sit well with me to feel like the child who had 100 percent of my attention up until two months ago now feels that much less. And that the baby who needs me constantly spends more time in her Pack and Play than I’d like. 

But I know they’re going to be fine. We’re going to be fine. It’s ALL going to be fine. I tell myself that 100 times a day and I know it’s true. It’s just a learning curve to navigate these new waters. 

And now…the baby is back up again and I’m pulled back into the beautiful mess. 

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Maya

I’ve been trying to find the time and words to write an introductory Maya post, and re-reading what I wrote for Lila brought me back full circle. 

Because Lila arrived a week early, I spent my entire pregnancy convinced Maya would be here before her due date as well. But, as we neared May 14, I became less and less confident I would EVER  give birth. 

And logically I decided that since the baby wasn’t a week early, obviously she’d be a week late. I basically shut out any possibility she would be here on time. But that was her plan all along.

May 14 was a Sunday, and — as luck would have it — Mother’s Day. That morning we took Lila to swim class and I noticed a few contractions, but they were short and not taking my breath away, so again, I decided this was nothing. I had no real plans for the rest of the day, and when we got home, Jim went to the grocery store and I started to put L down for a nap. At this point the contractions were painful enough that I had to bring an exercise ball into Lila’s room to sit on as I read to her. 

Still in denial.

I think I was just afraid of having a false alarm — because only first-time moms do that — and I didn’t want to go to the hospital and get sent home. Like last time. That was awful.

But after L was asleep, I texted my best friend to casually ask at what point you were supposed to call the doctor after having contractions. When she asked how long it had been and I stopped to think about it, it had been about three hours. Probably time for a medical opinion. And yes, as soon as we called, we were told to go in.

Denise graciously arrived to take care of Lila and the house, and we were off. As we were driving to the hospital I kept thinking, this can’t be labor because it’s not nearly as painful as last time. 

When we arrived around 2:45 p.m. it was a very calm and quiet day at the hospital. We were taken to a triage room right away and I immediately loved the intake nurses. I told them I felt contractions every 3-5 minutes but on the monitor they were coming as closely as every 45 seconds. We jokingly told them my biggest fears were: 1) being sent home in active labor like last time, and 2) waiting five hours for an epidural. When they told us we were staying, fear # 1 was squashed, and they wiped out # 2 as well by saying I could have an epidural any time. WHERE WAS THIS MAGICAL LEVEL OF PATIENT CARE IN 2014?!

Anyway, we quickly moved into a labor and delivery room, I got an epidural, and the race was on. I will say that for the four or so hours I labored before pain medication, my contractions never came close to what they felt like with Lila. They were shorter and farther apart, even as I dilated further. Just a note to any moms who also don’t trust the “every labor is different” comment you hear 46269348 times while pregnant.

We had two instances where my blood pressure dropped, which required me to wear a sweet oxygen mask and get some ephedrine pumped into me, and at one point the anesthesiologist had to return to fix an epidural that has suddenly stopped working (talk about a rude awakening), but overall things were easy and quick. 

I know there are women who listen to soothing music and mantras while in labor,  but we watched That 70s Show throughout. Why is that show still in syndication? I also listened to Aziz Ansari’s comedy routine. Also serious. 

I was at a 4-5 when they broke my water, and at a 10 just an hour later. Sadly, my beloved doctor was not on call, but another doctor from the practice was there. 

Maya distinguished herself by making a bowel movement during labor, so we had a team of specialists in the room in the event that presented any challenges, but at 8:50 p.m. she arrived happy and healthy. Well, maybe not so happy, but thankfully healthy and crying. Both of my girls were fast entries, arriving with just two pushes each. I’d like to think it was all my core exercises but I’m pretty sure it’s just dumb luck.

Maya weighed 7.12 and was 21.25 inches long with a smattering of dark brown hair and eyes that remain dark gray but I believe will be brown. She was (and is) perfectly beautiful and such a gift. 

Maya, you are an incredibly calm baby, and generally very content. You give us easy cues when you’re overtired or hungry, and aside from the car, you are happy almost all the time. You tolerate your older sister’s well-intentioned-but-sometimes-aggressive hugs and pats, and have started cooing and smiling more as the weeks go by. 

You’ve made our family feel complete in an entirely new way nothing would be the same without you. 

This mom life.

When I was pregnant with Maya, a lot of friends gave me startlingly similar advice – or maybe it was more of a warning? 

They gently cautioned that at some point, perhaps during the pregnancy or soon after baby arrived, I’d panic that I wouldn’t be able to love another little one as much as I loved Lila. As I heard this repeated from so many people, I started to wonder what it really meant. It sounded dreadful but also made sense.

Oddly enough, I never seemed to have this feeling set in – at least not in a way that was palpable. 

I haven’t felt concern that I can’t love these two magical humans enough – heck, it feels amazing to have any one or thing to love this way – but I do have an awareness that I’m able to love them very differently right now. 

A newborn relies on you for everything. Everything. You monitor every sneeze, poop color and potential rash. You google all the things because you have this overflowing desire to protect and nurture her. You’re needed all the time by someone who doesn’t yet know she needs you. 

Love for your older child is different, but just as strong and deep-rooted, because you know her so completely. And she knows you. And shows her love right back to you. 

So, I don’t worry about not having enough love, but I do worry about time. About the logistics of life with two kids, and what that means for all of us. It already feels like there’s no time and endless to-do lists, and I’m not even back to work right now.

If you’ve lived it, you know the newborn stage is sort of all hands on deck. Schedules may or may not happen. Meals are eaten cold and while standing. And days and nights are a continuous blend of fatigue. 

All the while, the days drag on but also pass alarmingly quickly. You spend your days alone with your baby, watching a miraculous little human grow and change. Long hours of rocking and bouncing that prompt you to question your own existence. 

So yeah, time. The simple things are what I miss the most right now. Being able to do bedtime with Lila every night. Having time (and energy?) for actual conversations with Jim (that don’t have to do with burping or bills). I miss having time for spontaneous outings with the family. 

Yet I feel guilty for wanting anything other than the exact moments I’m living, because I know how fleeting this stage is. I know one day I’ll want to be needed this way by two girls who are far too independent.

And as the countdown to returning to work starts, I feel a deep sadness. Not that I won’t be home full time – I don’t believe that’s the best fit for me – but because this time is too short. We won’t be ready to have a 180 transition out of our calm cocoon into fulltime hustle and bustle. 

Soon, days and weeks and months are going to pass by in a stressful frenzy. There will be not be a balance, and there will be more asked of me in different roles than I am confident I can (or want to) handle.

I worry that I’ll miss too much with my kiddos while working, while recognizing that I’ll miss too much of myself if I don’t. 

When I think about life right now, I’m happy I don’t worry about a lack of love, but wish I had a magic button to just have more time.

Week one, with two 

“Oh! My baby is here! She’s so tiny!”

Lila’s been fascinated with Maya’s tiny ears and lack of eyebrows, and is completely calm and sweet around her, even when the baby cries or takes our attention away. She brings a stool to wherever the baby is and stands on it to get a better view of her. She loves to pet and kiss her little sister and tell people that she’s a big sister now. She brings the baby toys and pacis and has been a great helper. 

When we got home from the hospital one of Lila’s first concerns was whether my belly button was back or not. TBD, little one.

“Babies don’t eat food. They only have milk a-cuz they don’t have teef.”

“Baby’s crying, she getting a little bit angry. Maybe she needs a burp? Maybe she wanna eat from my chest?”

Several times each day she’s started dictating some version of, “You’re the mommy, and daddy’s the daddy, and I’m the big sister and that’s my baby sister.”

We’ve had some tantrums of late, but they feel more connected to being almost three and cooped up due to the heat than they do to the new baby. 

Overall the transition has been easier than I anticipated and far sweeter. But the witching hour with two kids is no joke. And that’s why there is wine. 

Eating organic on a budget (aka it doesn’t involve Whole Foods)

Sometimes people act like I’m a lunatic (or a millionaire) when I tell them I buy almost all organic food. Note: I don’t believe I’m either, but am open to feedback 😂. 

I get a lot of blank stares and “it’s too expensive.” But my friends, let me tell you something about myself: I am one cheap mofo 🙋🏻. Like, I reuse ziplock bags (yep, I’m that girl) and clip coupons like a boss. So if I’m making this work, you can too. 

It’s gotten so much easier and more affordable in recent years that when I do the math, buying organic only adds about $20 a month to our grocery bill, if that. 

I’m sharing some of this info with my challenge group this week, and figured I’d post it here too. I’m not anything close to an expert, but the more I learn about our food system, the scarier it is that we’re even allowed to buy some of the things we see on grocery shelves. 

I’m also not perfect all the time by ANY means – right now there are Girl Scout cookies and a plethora of Easter candy in our house – but here are some of the ways we make sure most of what we eat is higher quality:

1. Shopping at Fry’s. Oh, for the love of everything holy, please shop at Fry’s. They carry their own line of Simple Truth organic products that is cheaper than what regular stuff costs at competitor grocery stores. No joke – at least 50 percent of the food in my house is this brand, from peanut butter to spinach to ketchup and hummus. Plus, Fry’s has the most brilliant CRM program of any retailer, and sends you coupons for exactly what you buy. Download the Fry’s app, and you can pre-load coupons to be added to your account. Just search “Simple Truth” or “organic” and it takes 30 seconds to have these savings applied. And in case I haven’t sold you yet, please remember the Click List…where you shop online, then swing by and pick up your pre-bagged groceries without leaving your car? #solidgold

2. Shop at Costco. First – who doesn’t love Costco? And second, buying in bulk can make sense even for smaller families, because you can’t beat the prices on non-perishable organic stuff here like honey, apple cider vinegar, peanut butter and more. Their organic meat is also the most affordable I’ve found, and you can buy the big packages and freeze it to store it. Also, you get to eat samples while you shop. I like this very much. 

3. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to replace your entire pantry overnight, or feel that this has to be an all-or-nothing type of lifestyle. If you’re interested in shifting to eat more organic, make gradual changes. Start with meat or dairy, then start adding in fruits and veggies, then try incorporating some other staples and condiments. Let it be fun and educational, not stressful.

Eating organic food may not make you feel different in a day or even a year, but if anything is worth the investment, my vote is that it’s your health. 

Fleeting moments to remember 

1. “I threw my popsicle yesterday. That was vewwy unkind. That make you vewwy sad.”

2. “Mommy’s taking me to school? And Daddy’s picking me up? That’s a GWATE idea!”

3. “I dream about piggies and snakes. They sing to me.”

4. “Daddy, you forget my water bottle. That’s your fault.”

5. “We should send this painting to Gtandma because it’s so bootiful.”

6. “Maybe I can help you find Monkey George. Maybe he’s under my bed. Oh, you found him? You were just kidding!”

7. I was so bwave at swimming. I get a donut?”

8. “I give Bruno one kiss. The dogs is our fam-a-wee.”

9. “Mommy, you don’t eat too much food, okayyy? Cause then your baby come out and you have a stomach ache.”

10. Oh! The caterpillar go away! He popped outta his cocoon and is a bootiful butterfly!

A Long Story about a Toilet Paper Rose

I’ve gotten a lot of financial advice in my life, and most of it’s been pretty good. There’s one lesson I didn’t fully learn until recently though, which is there has to be balance. Meaning, pay off debt and save enough to plan for the future, but also, go ahead and use some of  your hard-earned money. Find the balance that positions you securely but supports your sanity.

We save for retirement. We save for emergencies. We save enough to give to charities we believe in. Who’s been a saver her entire life? This girl. 

But today I did something I’ve never done in my whole life and paid to have our house professionally cleaned. Because we have two dogs. And two jobs. And a toddler. 
Because I could not physically bring myself to clean the bathroom with a butternut squash-sized human in my belly. 

Because we don’t have cable and I rock coupons at the grocery store and literally don’t know the last time I got my nails done. 

But I needed this. 

I’ve often thought critically about people who hire house cleaners. I saw it as a frivolous expense and something we could manage ourselves (and I guess it’s easy for me to say because my husband is the one that mops the floors and cleans the kitchen). I just always tend to think about what else I could do with the money I saved…but then I would just continue to save…and never do anything with it. 

Here’s what finally swayed me. I know damn well that when I stop one day to look back on my life, I’ll have far more regrets about missing out on family time because I was vacuuming than I would about spending a bit more this month to make our lives a lot easier. I’ll regret not treating myself once in a while in order to be a better wife and mom. 

This isn’t something we’ll do all the time, but when I got home today, the house looked, smelled and felt fabulous. So I therefore felt fabulous. And please, please just look at this magnificent toilet paper rose I walked in to see in the bathroom. If this isn’t worth a little splurge I do not know what is. 


Everyone has their own approach to finances and I know it’s not a simple one size fits all. But I also know I feel really good about this decision. And that toilet paper rose is a thing of beauty.