Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Mommy, You Want to be Lonely?"

I sat on our bathroom floor, crying. 

I had just hugged Ella and sent her back to the kitchen to help my husband.  She turned back to me before she left the room, puzzled, and asked, "Mommy, you want to be lonely?". 

Yes, sweet child, I do.  At least at that moment, I did.

After a pretty good first week back, my second week sucked.  It started with a tickle in my throat on Friday morning.  By Friday afternoon, when Ella asked for a drink from my water bottle, I refused, because I was feeling congested and didn't want to share germs with her.  Sharing a car with her must have been enough, because it came on her really strong.  By that evening, I was feeling hot, and her voice was raspy.  By Saturday morning, I was googling "croup" and pulling out the humidifier.

She napped on the couch for four hours.  I wish that I could have done the same, but there was laundry to be done and dishes to clean.  I felt miserable, but my husband really wanted me to go to the football game with him that evening.  Since my mom was here to watch the girls, I felt like I had to take the chance to spend some quality time with him.  In retrospect, I probably should have gone straight to bed instead.  At least it was a good game.

We skipped church on Sunday.  I felt well enough to go get groceries.  Ella had one more scary moment when we had to talk her through a coughing episode, and then slept for three more hours.  I prepared my lunches and clothes for the week, determined to not let the cold hold me back from balancing a career and a sick child.

By Monday morning, I had no voice, but since my mom could stay home with Ella, I took some Dayquil and headed into town with a friend so that my mom could drive in to pick me up when it was time for me to bring her to the airport.  I somehow made it through the day, but was strongly considering stopping by one of those "minute clinic" sorts of places on the way home--except, my mom loaded Ella into the car without any shoes.  I opted instead to run by our house, grab some shoes for her, and head to our nearest Walgreens to buy myself some meds and another humidifier.

I got home, nursed Anna, and left my husband with two crying girls and ran to the closest health clinic.  The Family Nurse Practitioner ran a strep test--I whispered jokingly, and yet honestly, that it was as nerve-wracking to wait for those results as it was to wait for a home pregnancy test.  I was, and continue to be, worried about getting poor Anna, now 10 weeks, as sick as Ella and me.  It was negative, to my relief.  But the only diagnosis he could give me was "Viral Laryngitis"--nothing really to do other than wait it out.  He was, however, kind enough to give me a couple free masks so that I could at least nurse Anna without coughing all over her.  (It's the little things in life, right?)

I sent my supervisor a text saying I wouldn't be in on Tuesday.  I just couldn't do it.

By Wednesday, Ella was feeling better.  She still had a little cough, but what kid doesn't have a cough as we head into Fall?  I, however, had quite the cough. 

And sore throat.

And congestion.

And now, runny nose.

The top of my mouth is cut up from sucking on throat lozenges, so I switched to the sides of my cheeks, which now feel raw.  My nose is completely scratched up from wiping and blowing (note to self--bring in soft tissues so I no longer need to use the rough ones at work).  I smell like vapor rub.  I'm having an out-of-body experience between the meds and the congestion.  The only benefit to all of this is that I'm coughing so much that my post-baby belly muscles are starting to tighten up again, just the tiniest bit.

I've been pretty miserable, but made it in to work the rest of the week.  You know it's bad when you start figuring that your 10-week old will probably be safer at a new daycare than she would be at home with me and my germs.  Praise the Lord, she has remained healthy so far.  I pray (and please join me) that she continues to stay healthy, because this is one nasty virus.

My husband has been sleeping on the couch all week.  I don't blame him.  I miss him, but I don't blame him one bit.  Friday night, I told him that he was on baby-duty, and I took a dose of NyQuil the moment that Anna popped off the boob.  The commercials lie--I didn't sleep through the night like a baby...but I did get a little more rest than the previous nights (and some funky dreams). 

I think--I hope, I pray--that I'm on the mend.  My throat no longer burns--it only feels like I have a lump stuck in there now.  My nose is running--although it hurts to blow and wipe, I'm hopeful that the drainage is a good sign that this dang virus is finally leaving my system.  Now if only I could get rid of this cough and congestion.

My blessing, amid all this sickness, is the reminder that I'm usually pretty healthy.  Granted, I feel so miserable now that it's hard to remember what it feels like to be "normal" again, but I need to remind myself that the last time that I was this sick was probably when I went back to work after Ella was born.  For the most part, I'm usually pretty healthy, and for that, I'm extremely grateful.  I just hope that I can beat this virus once and for all, and I pray that Anna is spared. 

So Far, So Good

(This post has been sitting in draft form for more than a week now...but I figured I'd still share it to help myself remember that my first week back was indeed good...even if the second week was not).

Well, I haven't had the chance to workout like I said I might because Anna slept until 5:00, my normal wake-up time, the rest of the week!  God is so good in giving us an easy baby!

I was welcomed back to my office with open arms and plenty to do.  The week has flown by as we transition from one busy period into a new one.  I didn't even post any regular appointments and yet still had plenty to do...which also means that I didn't have much time to miss my baby.  Sure, I miss her, but I have enough on my mind and on my plate to not ache for her.

My mom brought her in to let me nurse her at lunch on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then stayed home for the last two days.  Anna has been wonderful for her, playing independently and sleeping soundly for extended periods of time.  She has done just fine with the bottle, and I've been doing just fine with my milk supply.  With Ella, I struggled to keep my supply up, and was typically pumping twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.  I'm blessed to have my own office and would respond to emails or work on projects while I was hooked up to the pump.  But I was actually pumping more than she was eating these first days back, so I've allowed myself to cut back.  And since I started pumping so much earlier this time around, I have a freezer full of milk.  So I think that I'll be able to get by with pumping just once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and feed her during my lunch breaks most days.

When Ella started sleeping through the night (at closer to four months), I started setting an alarm so that I could pump in the middle of the night to keep up both my internal and external supply.  This time around, I feel like I have plenty of milk, so I'm allowing myself to sleep--and it's been glorious.  I am still a little bit nervous that my supply will drop--perhaps even drastically--if I cut back too much, but I hope that I'll be able to recognize any changes and adjust accordingly.

My mom leaves Monday.  The girls both had doctors appointments scheduled for that day, and I wanted my mom to be able to help out a bit with them, but they were rescheduled for Thursday.  So Tuesday will be Anna's first day at daycare. 

My blessing is having my mom here to help.  She and I may not always see eye-to-eye all the time, but ultimately, she is a wonderful grandma, and has a lot of knowledge on child development (which is sometimes both a blessing and a curse).  But I love her, and I know that she loves me and my girls. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Perhaps I Should Work Out Tomorrow

Anna has been sleeping until 4:00 am the last couple of nights--which is absolutely wonderful, right?!  Except, today is my first day back at work and my alarm was set for 5:00 am.  So here I am, thinking I as going to be totally rushed this morning, and instead, the baby is fed, I've showered and eaten a quiet breakfast, and now I'm just waiting for Ella to wake up in about forty-five minutes.  Perhaps I should try to work out tomorrow.

I should work out, not just to pass the time in a healthy way--but also because nothing fits!  I made the mistake of waiting until the last minute yesterday afternoon to try on my work clothes, and had the following results:

# of pants that absolutely do not fit:  14
# of pants that barely button:  7 (including one that needs to go to the dry cleaner)
# of pants that flatter:  0

Eek!  I admit it was a bit of a shock.  When I sent a text with those results to my amazing colleague, she was kind to point out that I'm heading back to work four weeks earlier than I did with Ella.  I know that I have lost some of the baby weight, but I still have a long way to go.  Aside from a couple of easy runs here and there, I had been relying on Anna to help me with my "breastfeeding diet" (which really is synonymous with "eat whatever I want and let the baby suck it right out of me") the way that Ella did, but I have yet to reap the same rewards this time around.  Like I said, perhaps I should try to work out tomorrow (or perhaps I should just face the reality that I'll need some bigger pants and do some online shopping instead). 

I'm as prepped as I think I can be for the week.  My mom is here to help us transition back into a new routine, and to give Anna one more week at home before going to daycare.  She'll bring Anna in for me to feed her at lunch today, so I look forward to seeing both of them.  I ran into a cross-campus colleague at the grocery store yesterday.  She had her second child a month or so before Anna was born, and has been back to work for about a month now.  She warned me that it was harder than she thought.  Even now, as I write that, I can feel tears forming.  I know I'll be okay--I know Anna and Ella and my husband will be okay too.  We've been here before.

Today's blessing is having my husband offer to get up to help me out this morning.  He has the day off, and I know that he loves to sleep.  But climbing into bed last night, he offered to get up and help us out the door.  Like I said, he loves to sleep, so this is a really big thing for him to make such an offer.  It looks like I'll have plenty of time, but I do appreciate the thought. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's Time

Today is my last day of maternity leave.  Technically, tomorrow is my last day, but since Ella's school is closed for solar panel installation, today is essentially my last day at home with Anna.  And silly me--I waited until the last day to make an appointment to get my oil changed, and I'm now kicking myself, wishing that I could spend this last day completely locked away at home with my baby.

I'm feeling a little teary today.  I know that it's time.  I know that she is a wonderfully easy baby and will do just fine with my mom next week and then at daycare after that.  I know that I'm valued and appreciated at work by my students, colleagues, and supervisors.  I know that I would probably start going a little crazy here shortly if I spent too much time at home.  I know that it's time, but it's still a little sad to think that I will no longer get these days alone with just her.

Sure, I have the weekends to which to look forward, but it's just not the same.  Ella and my husband want--and deserve--my attention as well.  I realized last night, as I nursed Anna around 2:00 in the morning, that our middle-of-the-night feedings will soon be our only "alone" time together.  And soon, those will end too.  While I'm anxious for her to start sleeping through the night, I'm also going to mourn that one-on-one cuddle time in the dark quiet.

I love being a mom, but I also feel that I am called to do the work that I do.  I'm proud to have a career.  It's nothing glamorous, but I know that I'm effective and make a difference for my students.  I want my girls to be proud of me--I love how Ella smiles sweetly when she tells people that I work at the University.  I could have lengthened my leave out longer, but when it comes down to it, I know that it's time.  And really, I would have these mixed emotions about going back even if it were six months from now.

So today, I'm going to snuggle with my baby (when she wakes up).  I'm going to take pictures so that I can bring them in to work with me and remember her at this stage, when it was just me and her at home...and then marvel at how she grows and develops each day when we're apart.

My blessing is that my mom is coming to spend that first week with us to help us with the transition when I go back to work.  This way, I can get back into a routine of bringing Ella in to school and the going to work, while she helps Anna get into a routine of drinking regularly from a bottle and napping more regularly in her crib than on my chest (though I did spend considerably less time curled up on the couch with her than I did with Ella).  I really think that this will be good for all of us to help us ease into what it means to be a working mom with two kids. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

With Hope, The Odds Don't Matter

I had a first-of-its kind request from a reader.  Heather read my blog, and appreciated my message of hope, and asked me to share her own message of hope.  Perhaps I'm opening the floodgates to future requests by doing this, but for now, I appreciate that someone took the time to read my blog and share a request.  My mom always taught me that you're allowed to ask for whatever you want, as long as you're also prepared to hear "no" as a response.  But for now, I'm saying "yes" and sharing Heather's story.  Although our challenges were different (she survived mesothelioma; I survived recurrent pregnancy loss), I also believe that with hope, the odds don't matter.  Please take a minute to learn more from Heather's story. 

Today's blessing is fall weather.  We live in the desert, and our interpretation of "fall" may be very different than other parts of the country.  But I believe that our high will only be 75 today.  We can feel the coolness in the mornings and evenings--Ella even wore a little sweater to school this morning (the trick will be remembering it when I pick her up this afternoon).  I was able to do a little yardwork yesterday while Anna slept in her bouncer on the back porch.  Let's just hope that I fit into my fall wardrobe when I return to work next week!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Ella turned three yesterday.  My baby--my first baby--is a bright, silly, energetic, creative, observant, and caring three year old now.  She has her naughty moments (especially after a weekend of birthday festivities), but I am so proud of and amazed at the person that she is becoming.  I love her so much more than I ever dreamed possible, and I look forward to all that this next year has in store for us.

Today's blessing is my mom, who is sometimes so sensitive to what I need.  After sharing some frustrations with her, she asked how she can be of the most help when she comes back to visit my first week back to work.  It showed such care that she would already be thinking--two weeks in advance--how she can help our whole family transition back to a work routine.  I still definitely "have my moments" with my mom (and we've had quite a few through the years), but when it comes down to it, I know that she feels about me the exact same way that I feel about Ella (and now Anna too).   Having my girls helps me to appreciate my mom (and my dad) so much more.