But I’M the one who rocked you for 8 1/2 months!!

Okay, so we carry our babies in our bodies for 9 months or so. We decide where they go and what they do because they’re with us. Then we give birth to them (some of us for 26 hours, but who’s counting) and get to hold them, feed them, change their diapers and take care of them.

I was my son’s everything for the 1st 8 1/2 months of his life.

Maybe it was the postpartum anxiety or maybe he was just a fussy baby. Whatever the case, I held my baby constantly. People would joke all the time “Do you ever put him down?” No. The answer was “no”.

Because I held Chase so much and let him nap on me the majority of the time, he would scream when I put him in his crib to nap (even when I put him down completely asleep, he would instantly wake up and cry: even faking gagging on one special occasion), so I inevitably rocked him for the duration of his naps (even twice a day for sometimes 2 hours at a time) leaving virtually no time for myself, whatsoever.

I’m sure this is all my fault, but it was all well worth it because I hung the moon, in Chase’s eyes. I lit up a room. I was his sunshine on a cloudy day.

Until one day.

One day, when I was pregnant with our daughter and waddling around, after my husband had instilled in me that I needed to back off and allow him more time with our son so they could bond the way I had gotten to with him, Chase saw a lightbulb go off. His daddy was way cooler than his mommy.

His daddy was the one throwing him footballs and tackling him to the ground, setting up hockey nets and “body-checking” him while he wailed with laughter. Teaching him how to swing a bat and throw a cornhole bag. Watching Tom Brady on our flat screen wearing their matching Patriots jerseys and going out to use their leaf blowers together.

His daddy gets to actually WATCH a movie snuggled up to Chase while I might get a few minutes here and there in between laundry changes, diapers changes, bottle-washing and food prep.

When I try to snuggle up to Chase while he’s watching something, he gives me a second and then nudges me off!! Excuse me, kid?! I pushed you out of my body after carrying you inside of me for the better part of a year! I didn’t let your feet touch the ground until I finally put you down, like, yesterday! What the shit? I take you to the children’s museum and the playground, we go wild strawberry picking and collect shells from the beach (some of which I kept for you in a little box, by the way)!

I knew this day was coming. I knew I wouldn’t be the only person who lit up Chase’s life forever, but I thought it would last a little longer than 2 years! He’s still a baby!! Isn’t he supposed to love only ME for a little while longer??

Aren’t I supposed to be the one who makes him laugh all the time and gives the best hugs? Shouldn’t I be the one he comes running to for everything??

Sure, I’m still the one he prefers at bed-time and naps, and I’m still the one he comes to for cookie-making, when he’s hurt or sick or when he wants to do something like get up on his stool and use the sprayer to wash away glitter in the sink (something I do to keep him occupied while I get dinner ready) but I’m not the only ruler of this castle anymore. All of a sudden there’s a king by my side! With an even bigger throne!

Alas, I walked around with a smug look on my face and a false sense of security for too long. This little blue-eyed angel wouldn’t have me up on a pedestal forever.

Damn leaf blower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I cussed you out last year, but are you accepting preschool applicants?

Anyone who knows me as a parent knows I’m a little crazy. I blame it on a combination of postpartum anxiety, my very Italian family and a short list of childhood disappointments.

After my son was born, my postpartum anxiety subsided, and I began venturing out of the confinements of our home, I found myself feeling a need to get back to the gym. Most of my other mom friends had made that leap much sooner than I had and I felt ready.

The problem wasn’t just leaving my baby for an hour or two (something I had extreme trouble with) it was leaving him in the gym daycare with people he (and I) didn’t know.

Sure, they had windows for me to peak through, the staff all had background checks and a good reputation, and it was a good opportunity for both he and I to be around other people. Apparently other human beings existed, it wasn’t just the two of us, although it seemed that way for a really long time.

I tried dropping him off, I really did. A few times. But he screamed and cried and was so confused. I just knew he thought I was gone forever. Even when the woman holding him tried to shield me from his view and another woman shooed me towards the actually workout area to let me know all was going to be ok, I just couldn’t.

I went back twice after less than 10 minutes and went home. Trying to focus on the stair master or elliptical was impossible when my heart was racing and swear I could hear him cry. I couldn’t get his little face out of my mind and really, who needed to get rid of the mom-gut anyway?

So I waited another couple months and decided to try another branch, the same branch my friend was bringing her twin girls to (who were a few months younger than Chase).

I gave the very friendly (and patient) staff a long list of instructions including not to let him cry and to please come get me or call me if he did. They agreed and were really excited to see me finally walk out.

I left, reluctantly, and tried not to cringe when one of the staff took his teether from me, holding the part he chewed on with her fingers.

I got on the stair master, put my Pandora station on DMX radio (“X Gon Give it to Ya” really gets me going) and made sure I was facing the entrance in case one of them came to get me.

They never did.

After 30 minutes, I decided enough was enough and I had to go see my baby.

As I walked out of the cardio room and down the hall towards the daycare I heard a baby screaming and just knew it was my son. It’s one of those things only a mom can tell from far away. A man would never pick up on that, not any man I know, anyway.

I picked up the pace and ran into the room and sure enough, there was my son, being held by one of the male staff members at the front desk, away from all the other children. He was crying so hard and had been for so long that he couldn’t catch his breath and had that quick, panicky, puffy breathing thing going on. You know the one.

When I grabbed him and held him, I started tearing up, too.

“Dammit. I knew I shouldn’t have done this. Mother _ _ _ _ #$%. Son of…”

Well, you get it. I was pissed.

I looked around and a few staff members were standing close by and I asked why the hell no one had come to get me? Why had no one called? I was stepping away like an idiot thinking my baby was happy and I came back to this. I was infuriated, actually. They had reassured me they would never let him cry more than a few minutes to get adjusted and would absolutely come get me if he didn’t.

Chase had to be removed from the actual play area because he was causing the other children to worry! Maybe I’m overreacting but my blood was boiling, I was so upset, I yelled at everyone, told them how unacceptable this was and stormed out.

They explained that they were LITERALLY about to come get me and he hadn’t been crying like that for very long. I wasn’t buying it.

I demanded to speak to the manager. Not the manager of the daycare, the manager of the whole building.

This woman was going to remember me.

I made such a fuss, was crying, grasping my son and made sure everyone around me heard about it.

I made such a scene that other parents walking in with strollers stopped to listen. I think they thought something catastrophic had happened in the baby room.

I cancelled my membership right then and there and if all of that wasn’t enough, came home and wrote a pretty lengthy email to the CEO. She wrote me back almost immediately and was really understanding and apologetic. Girl was good. You don’t climb the ladder without calming a few bitches down.

Jump to a year and a half later. I’ve had my second baby and my first is getting ready to start thinking about preschool possibilities and I still haven’t worked out more than the 15 squats I did in December and that one Yoga video on YouTube

They have forgotten about the crazy lady (although I’m still pissed) and I hear they have a wonderful facility!

I’m going to take a tour of the preschool next week. I just have a pretty important decision to make before then.

Red Sox hat or the cute blue and white one with the anchor? I think the one with the anchor hides my face a little better.

I’m Being Tortured By My Baby

I have been held captive for 10 months, 21 days, 11 hours and 26 minutes. My captor’s name is Chase and he tortures me with sleep deprivation. There was a period of about 2 weeks where he let me sleep, uninterrupted, through the night and I thought “Could it be? Am I free?” and then on a warm evening in early September, I was startled awake by the soft cries from the monitor next to my bed. They gradually increased in octave and I just knew….it wasn’t over.

SLEEPING! What’s that? For the first 5 months of Chase’s life, I thought I would be the first person to die from sleep deprivation. You literally feel like you’re losing your mind. At one point I wondered if I was really in a padded room somewhere walking around with a baby doll and too crazy to notice. No sleep does things to you.

I constantly called and texted every new mom I know (I say “new” mom because I felt like anyone with older children might be out of touch and I needed some fresh advice…someone who just got through the battlefield and was eager to show me the ropes) and asked if what I was going through was normal and what worked for them.

There were so many different pieces of advice but no one really gives you verbatim direction on what EXACTLY they did (because, who has the time to explain all that or feels like sending a 3 page text, ESPECIALLY a mom) so I am going to tell you EXACTLY what we did (and are currently doing) because I needed someone to do that for me.

Keep in mind every baby is different, but here is what worked for us:

We kept Chase in a Rock N Play next to my side of the bed from the day we brought him home from the hospital. We were determined not to use the battery-operated swing or vibration, (hahaha!!! you will literally do anything to get a baby to sleep) but that didn’t last long! The self-swing option was a life saver. Also, Chase had reflux as an infant so being in the Rock N Play at an incline made everything much easier for all of us. This is the one we used:

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Because he had reflux, Chase spit up a lot and it would make him cry because it burned, so the pediatrician prescribed Zantac for him. I was reluctant to put my infant on any kind of prescription medicine but let me tell you, if you were in pain every day, you’d take something too. I looked at it like this: My baby is in pain and I have the ability to make him feel better so why wouldn’t I give him something that I know will help?

I was breastfeeding Chase and swaddling him at night. He wouldn’t sleep unless he was swaddled and we continued to do so until he was about 5 months and began to struggle to get out of it, that’s also around the time he started to roll over. He also wouldn’t sleep in anything other than the Rock N Play but it got to the point where his legs were literally dangling off the edge!

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Around 5 1/2 months is when everything changed for us. We were moving into a new house, so we hadn’t set up Chase’s crib yet. We had borrowed a bigger bassinet from a friend, but Chase wouldn’t sleep in it for more than 2 hours (just long enough for me to finally get some sleep and then be awoken by an angry elf). He was also used to being elevated and all nice and snug so laying flat and without some kind of cushioning wasn’t happening.

Then a friend of mine told me about the “Docatot”, which is awesome! (not cheap, but awesome!) It was the perfect transitional tool we needed to get Chase from Rock N Play to crib because it kept him nice and snug and prevented him from rolling over.

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This Docatot (picture is not my child, but it sold me!) was so great, I wish I had heard about it sooner (and no, they’re not endorsing me). I put the Docatot in Chase’s Pack N Play and he slept great! (Well, great for Chase at the time). So, apparently the Docatot is meant to be used as a co-sleeping tool, but Chase would NOT sleep with us. We tried. I even kicked my husband out of our bed so Chase could take his spot and he was still up every 2 hours. No thanks.

The other key for us was putting Chase in his own bedroom to sleep!! I didn’t really feel comfortable with the idea (and neither did my husband) but Chase woke up at the drop of a spoon (that happened the other day). Our bed was squeaky, my husband clears his throat and I roll around in my sleep and EVERYTHING woke Chase up. You can imagine my attitude towards my husband any time he coughed! So at about 5 1/2 months, we bit the bullet and set Chase up in his own room and he slept much better.

I always sleep with a fan, so Chase is used to white noise, which I think helped. We also got him a white noise machine and use it (two of them, actually) to this day.

Once we moved into the new house, we set the crib up and put the Docatot in that until Chase started rolling around on his own. He didn’t seem phased when I removed it, I just kept a close eye on him for a little while until I felt comfortable with him sleeping on his stomach. This all happened around 6-6 1/2 months, I’d say.

Because Chase wasn’t the best sleeper, I did a ton of research and asked my tribe of women what worked for them and the thing that stuck out the most for me was starting a “bedtime routine” where we do the same thing every single night so Chase knows it’s time for bed. Our routine consists of “tubby time” where Chase gets a bath in a quiet environment with dim lights. It’s his time to wind down. I have tried keeping the lights bright and having my husband in there with us, but Chase seems to sleep much better when it’s just the 2 of us in there and it’s quiet. (My need for having things done a particular way is hereditary, apparently.)

Then when he gets out of the tub, I lay him on our bed (he bathes in our bathroom) and I get him dressed for bed. He doesn’t like things on his feet, he tries to pull them off (lately) so I either put him in a feet-less pajama suit or a 2 piece, long sleeves and pants and always put him in a sleep sac.

 

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(Again, not my child)

I have a weird OCD thing about temperature and get obsessed with the temp in Chase’s room at night. I am constantly worried that he is either too hot or too cold, so I sneak in there 500 times to make sure it’s just right. I’m convinced the thermometer on his monitor is lying to me. I have found that putting him in cotton pajamas with the lighter sleep sack for warmer nights and the fleece sleep sac when it’s cold works best. I really like them because I feel like he has a blanket wrapped around him all night.

Speaking of blankets, that was another question of mine: When is it ok to give him a blanky?? He sleeps with his lovie (AKA “Moo Cow”) but seeing him all alone in his crib curled up in a ball made me sad so I wanted him to have a blanket. We got the OK from his pediatrician once Chase was rolling all around and at first, the idea scared me so I tried it during nap time so I could watch him with it. I wouldn’t want to sleep without a blanket of some kind! Even just to snuggle it.

During his “tubby time”, Chase’s bottle is being warmed up (I give him a bottle of breast milk that I have pumped because it fills his belly for the night) and his daddy kisses him “Goodnight”. I feed him in his rocking chair in his room with the sound machines on. He also has room-darkening curtains (I highly recommend) so it’s nice and dark in there. After his bottle, he nurse a little (comfort) and usually falls asleep that way and I put him to bed asleep. Sometimes I have to walk him around the room and pat his back (he puts his hand over my mouth if I try to sing to him…if you’ve ever heard me sing, you’d understand..no joke).

I know you’re supposed to put them down “drowsy but awake” to sleep so when they wake in the night they don’t expect to see you there because they understand where they are. BUT…after letting Chase cry it out for nap time (more on that below) he was able to sleep better through the night and was able to soothe himself back to sleep. I have always put him down asleep when it’s his bedtime, I love rocking him to sleep and holding him a little while.

This “bedtime routine” might  a bit excessive but I’m telling you, if you have a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night or doesn’t nap well and you haven’t gotten a break, your eyes look like a raccoon’s and you know your baby isn’t getting the rest he desperately needs, you’ll hag upside down by your toes, if it helps. Trust me.

Nap time has been hell for us. I may have created a monster, but as I have stated before, I had post-partum anxiety and didn’t want to put my baby down very much. I held him a ton as an infant (as I think you should) and let him nap on me all the time. Granted, I didn’t have any other children to take care of so I allowed myself to take advantage of these precious moments and Chase slept on me while I watched t.v. (oh, I miss those days!!) or rocked him in his rocking chair, and sometimes he even slept on me while I wore him in his Baby K’Tan:

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I would actually be a great tour guide after months of driving all around town to get Chase to nap. I can tell you the nicest, most secluded and exclusive areas and the not-so-nice areas to avoid. I can tell you which places have drive-through coffees and which ones to go to if you’re trying to be quiet. Ask for Janet at the mini Starbucks. She makes the best 1/2 decaf skinny vanilla lattes and whispers when she sees you.

As everything else, this came to an end and Chase stopped falling asleep in the car and would only scream his tiny little ass off until we stopped and I took him out.

I’ve never been a fan of the “cry it out” method, but Chase just wouldn’t nap in his crib. I’d get him to sleep and then gently and sloooowwwlllyyyy lay him in his crib and he’d wake right up and scream (or pretend to choke, no lie) until I picked him up. So I was held captive in his room and rocked him to nap every day. It was sweet at first and then he stopped napping that way too! He was getting uncomfortable and wanted to roll around so he’d accidentally wake himself up after about 20-30 minutes.

I finally decided something needed to change after we had family and friends visit us and I was stuck in Chase’s room for most of their time here. I had tried letting him cry it out a couple times in the past but I ended up in the bathroom crying, myself. It hurt me to hear him cry and wonder where I was and why I wasn’t coming to get him. So, at about 8 1/2 months, I decided to do it and not look back because I realized he desperately needed to learn how to nap and it was my responsibility to teach him.

I bought books, watched videos, talked to my pediatrician and friends and decided to try letting Chase cry for 5 minutes then go in and console him. I would be putting him down drowsy but awake so he would get himself to sleep and I KNEW he was going to lose it and I KNEW that I needed to be strong because I wasn’t doing this TO him, I was doing it FOR him.

The 5 minute thing didn’t work. Neither did the 10 minute or even the 20. When I would go back in the room to console him, Chase would scream even louder, cry even harder and it would allllll start over again. SO, there were a couple times where he cried for an hour!! I finally would go in and get him, convinced he’d hate me and never trust me again. Thankfully, he didn’t and I kept up with it until probably the 4th day, he rolled over and went to sleep!!!! What the what?? Yeah, it was crazy. I thought: “No way, this is too good to be true” but the little man took a nap!

Now, I’m not trying to sell you anything so I can be honest and tell you this doesn’t always happen!! Sometimes I put him down and he cries and sometimes I just pick him back up or wait just a few minutes and then try again later. Sometimes he naps for 2 hours and sometimes 30 minutes, but at least he’s napping without any crutch.

Also, when I did this, he started sleeping through the night because he understood where he was, that it was sleep time and he probably didn’t feel like screaming for 20 minutes, it would just be easier to roll over, grab his lovie and go back to sleep.

But again, this doesn’t always happen, like I said in the opening statement, there was a period of about 2 blissful weeks where he was sleeping 11 hours straight per night and then BAM, just as soon as you foolishly tell people your child is sleeping through the night does he wake up every night at 2 AM just to spite you.

What can I say, ladies (and gents?)…we can just try our best…I have accepted the fact that I will probably be exhausted for a long time to come and I will never look like I’m 23 again because that bitch was rested!

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You Win Some, You Lose Some (friends, that is)

You have your best friends and people you think will be in your life forever. Then there’s the people you don’t really talk to very much but know will be there the second you need them, and you’d do the same for them. Your family is your family (for better or worse) and that’s a whole different ball game altogether.

Here’s the thing: Having a baby changes practically everything. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s a good thing, you’re life SHOULD change (somewhat). You now have someone else who should be your #1 priority. The problem is, only other moms really and truly understand this. Hell, I didn’t understand what it meant to have a child until I had one of my own, there’s literally no way of really getting what another mother is going through until you are a mother, yourself.
Yes, we all get it: You’re sleep deprived (which, by the way is a form of torture and now I understand why), you’re cranky, you’re probably dirty, you’re struggling to balance it all. BUT no one can quite grasp what it’s REALLY like unless you’ve been through it, yourself.
You don’t have to tell another mother you’re sorry you haven’t texted her or asked about her high-school boyfriend’s ex girlfriend’s child. She knows you don’t have to explain how exhausted you are or that you’ve cried 3 times already and it’s only 11 AM and now you’re laughing and posting pictures of your baby’s funny faces while he nurses because it’s easier to post a picture than it is to text. She understands because she’s been there. She won’t scoff at your incessant Facebook posts or judge you for being you. She’s a mom, she knows. It’s an unofficial secret society.
No one, and I mean no one knows what it’s like to be a new mother except for a seasoned vet. So, you’re friends might change. Some of them might not understand why you can’t just get lunch on any given afternoon while others, whom you aren’t even really that close to might offer to bring you lunch at home. They might not even know your address.
I have lost friends that I’ve had for years and rekindled lost friendships completely unexpectedly simply because we now have something very powerful in common. Motherhood. It’s like going through a labyrinth or complicated obstacle course. Only those who have gone through it understand and it makes you want to reach your hand out to help the other through.
“Here, read this book, take this supplement, go this way, not that way, here’s what worked for me, borrow this swaddle, use this sound machine, eat these cookies, drink this juice” and so on. Like anything else, the help from those who have gone before you is like none other. We instinctively want to help each other and celebrate each other’s victories.
Unfortunately, this is the exact thing that can actually cause a friendship to end while strengthening or rekindling another. Have you ever had a victory or overcome something incredible? Maybe you’ve gone through a really difficult experience and looked around to see who was there to share in your joy or hold your hand.
It’s funny and sometimes really surprising to see who’s standing there and even more surprising to see who isn’t. You don’ have to be a mother to have experienced something like this.
Like I said before, there are some people who you don’t have to talk to but know would be there in a heartbeat. I have 2 girlfriends from high school who literally drop everything for me and don’t miss any celebration of mine and we hardly ever talk! We don’t need to in order to know we could call and the other would be there.

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I have a friend here in NC whom I had a falling out with and didn’t speak to for about a year. Then I found out that we were pregnant at the same time. I showed up to her baby shower and all was forgotten. We were both going through the same things and understood each others excitement and fear. After I had Chase, she was there for me like none other. She walked in my door one day and I looked at her while holding my newborn and just started sobbing. She said “I know, girl, it’s ok”. She brought me food and made me lactation cookies, she has been such a good friend, I can’t even list everything she’s done for me and my family and if you had told me a year ago that she would be the one keeping me sane during those first few months, (and even now) I wouldn’t have believed you.

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The same goes for one of my favorite cousins. Not that we had a falling out, but we had grown apart since I moved away. She has 2 beautiful little boys and after I had Chase, I relied on her so much for advice on EVERYTHING. I have called and texted her so many thousands of times asking why this was happening when I breast fed, is this normal, what do you dress your baby in at this age so that they’re not too hot or cold, when is it ok to give them a blanky, and so on. She has sent me tons of clothes (from 800 miles away) and has been so thoughtful and always there to help me. There was never a conversation about who had stopped keeping in touch with whom, she just understood me and I FINALLY understood everything she had gone through, what her every day life is like and really how selfish I had been. I hadn’t kept up with her after she had her babies, but now that I have my own, I will always make sure to do so because I just get it. Our hearts are connected again. All of the fears, joy, sadness, and absolute bliss is an unspoken relation.

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One of my best friends since I was 13 and I stopped talking for over 5 years for something so minute. It’s sad, really. We missed out on so many important milestones in each other’s lives over that period of time and truthfully, I didn’t think we’d ever speak again due to stubbornness on both our parts. Then Christmas came, it was Chase’s first, and looking at a picture of my family from that day, I realized my friend hadn’t seen my baby and I hadn’t seen her son in way too long. She had since had 2 more babies and I knew nothing about them and couldn’t believe she had the courage and strength to go through pregnancy, birth, and raising a houseful of beautiful boys. I always loved her (and missed her very much) but suddenly had a newfound respect for her. I understood that the spat we had wasn’t worth missing out on any more of each other’s lives.

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As quickly as some friendships are made and rekindled, others are broken. I guess it’s all a part of life. I don’t know if I’ll ever speak to certain people again or if I’ll ever be able to raise my child around some of my favorite moms but I know this: I will never take for granted a genuine, good friend. Someone you can rely on, someone who honestly cares about you and understands what you’re going through as a mother. The excitement, the absolute pride, the way your heart literally feels like it’s melting and the days when you’re sure you’re doing a terrible job. The days when you can reach out and ask what you can do to help and the days when you ask for it.

Mommies are the toughest people I know. I tip my hat to you, Mama.

 

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

People say it all the time. You don’t know love until you have a child. Well, I knew what love was. My parents, my grandparents, my husband, my siblings. But you don’t know pure love, love without consequence or ultimatum. Love without boundaries or limits until you have a child.

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If you told me 10 years ago to just hold on. Just wait. Life will make sense again. Maybe I would have lived a little differently. But I would literally change not one thing up until the moment I conceived Chase. He was always meant to be.

If you have children, I don’t have to explain how this feels. You don’t want to envision a world where they don’t exist. What was I doing before I had him? I was binge-watching Netflix, going to the gym, doing laundry and trying to be skinnier, prettier, happier.

Little did I know how little everything else would matter after I was blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I laugh now (9 1/2 months later) at what was concerning me even up until Chase was born. After 6 weeks I was going to return to the gym. At least 2-3 times a week (hahahahahahaha)!!!!!! I think I’ve been to the gym a total of 3 times in almost 10 months. I’m sorry to anyone who has to look at me in a bathing suit BUT I’d honestly rather play with my son.

I took Chase with me to the gym and attempted to drop him off at the daycare for at least 30 minutes while I did some cardio. He screamed and cried when I handed him over and I kept going back to check on him through the glass wall. He was so unhappy and confused. I took him back and told the nice caretaker that it just wasn’t worth it to me. I didn’t need to work out that badly. She explained that it was totally normal for him to have that reaction but to keep coming back so he could get used to it (I will) but then she leaned in and whispered “I like what you said, though”. “What did I say?” I asked. “That working out isn’t that important”. I grabbed my baby who was now smiling in my arms as I hugged and kissed him and went home to play. The gym will be there tomorrow, but he won’t always be this little

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I am not proud of the person I was for most of my 20’s. I didn’t realize how selfish and self involved I was. I thought mostly only of myself and how things effected me. Was something convenient for me or was something too hard. What was the most fun and lets do that. It wasn’t until I became someone else’s whole world that I grasped how different I would become and how it would just be a natural reaction to motherhood. Selfishness is not in a mother’s vocabulary, at least it shouldn’t be.

I’m not talking about taking time for yourself (which I am only now realizing how important that is) but who you are as a mother. Like my husband says, if you have the best intensions for your child, you’re doing a good job.

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I don’t deserve Chase, I shouldn’t even be alive. Between asthma attacks leaving me intubated or a car accident leaving me without a dear friend and in ICU for weeks, I understand now why God kept me here, I was always meant to be Chase’s mother.

You don’t realize the magnitude of love you feel and how you are completely humbled by God’s grace until you become a parent. That goes for adoptive parents, step-parents, grand-parents, etc. There are always things in life you wish you could change or at least have a crystal ball to see into the future but I seem to forget everything else when I hear my baby laugh or he puts his head on my shoulder.

What would I do without this little angel of mine? Now that I have him, picturing my life without him is crippling. 

As I’ve said in previous posts, I had pretty bad anxiety after he was born, so holding him a lot made me feel calm and that I was keeping him safe and forming a strong bond. 

Everyone has their opinions so I heard a lot of “You need to put that baby down!”

Why? Why do I need to put him down? I don’t have any other children to take care of, the house is a mess, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to change any time soon, should I be worried he won’t go off to college some day because I held him too much as a baby? 

My cousin sent me a quote a couple months back that read:

“‘I wish I had held my baby less’ – Said no mother, ever”. 

Did I have a hard time with napping because I held Chase while he slept for most of his infancy? Yes. Do I regret it? Hell, no. Your baby will only be tiny for such a short time. 

I remember posting a picture like this and someone commented “Oh, I miss my son letting me snuggle him like that!” And I thought to myself: Her son is still a baby! But it’s true, they don’t stay that little for very long and before you know it, they won’t want you to hold them and rock them. You’ll have to chase them to try and steal a quick hug. 

These moments are so precious and sometimes I have had to pee so badly I didn’t make it to the bathroom in time! (I told you I’d be honest) but when my baby needs to be soothed, he looks to me for comfort. When he gets hurt or if he’s tired or hungry, he looks for me and knows I’m there to take his worries away. What a gift. 




There truly is no greater love.

Post Partum Anxiety (AKA Depression’s bitchy twin)

Thankfully, people are finally talking about post partum depression and sharing their personal stories. More and more celebrities are starting to come out in the open and proclaim their journey’s of PPD and express their feelings, which is such a huge step because PPD isn’t anything new!

That being said, I hadn’t heard of Post Partum Anxiety. Of course, we know anxiety and depression go hand in hand but I feel like I was left in the dark about something I probably should have been warned about. A heads up. So here is mine to you, a cautionary tale, if you will:

After our traumatic experience with Chase in the children’s hospital, I was feeling really anxious. As I have said previously, I have always suffered from anxiety, but those 48 hours really sent me over the edge (my hormones, just after giving birth, didn’t make matters any easier. Let me tell you, even the coolest cucumber will be on an emotional rollercoaster after having a baby. If you haven’t had a baby already, get ready, this is no joke. And if you’re a mom, I need say no more. But read on, nonetheless).

When we got home, I had this overwhelming fear that my son was somehow going to die. Every second of the day, my mind raced, thinking and worrying about all of the possible ways he could get hurt or die and I felt it so strongly that I would get anxiety and panic attacks. I would hide in another room (usually the bathroom), and shake and cry but didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. I literally felt crazy. I had these thoughts and unrealistic fears so frequently that I started to wonder if I, myself, was going to somehow hurt him when all other irrational fears passed (and I think THIS is why we don’t talk about these things).

For instance, I was afraid to give my baby a bath alone because what if he drowned? My mind went like this: “I would never let him drown, so I can put that fear aside, so what else could possibly go wrong? What if I let him fall in the tub?” Knowing I would NEVER do that, I would then get mad at myself, ashamed and embarrassed for having such a thought and I would wait until my husband got home to give him a bath so I wouldn’t be so anxious. I don’t know how much newborns retain, but I didn’t want Chase’s first memories to be of his mother sobbing and shaking and checking the temperature of the tub 800 times or come up with some OCD way of wrapping him in a towel afterwards or something.

I was afraid to iron a shirt in the same room as the baby because I was afraid he would somehow get burned, but again, I realized that was irrational. If he was alllll the way over there, HOW could he possibly get burned? So then I thought “would I purposefully burn him??” Of course not, so why would I have that thought in the first place. “I must be going crazy”. Needless to say, we had a pile of my husband’s wrinkled work shirts, which all ended up at the dry cleaners.

I was so ashamed and confused. I didn’t want to share these feelings that I had all the time because even though you hear of people talk about overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and emotions, you think there’s no way anyone else is having thoughts like these and surely they’ll take my child away if I share them. A crazy lady who’s afraid she’s going to harm her newborn but also won’t let anyone else hold him? Lock her up!

Right after we got out of the children’s hospital, we had an appointment with Chase’s pediatrician. As stated in my previous blog post, Chase was slightly jaundice (in case you don’t know, some babies are born “jaundice” meaning your baby has more bilirubin than it can get rid of. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that’s made when the body breaks down old red blood cells. It leaves the baby’s body through urine and stool but some cases are worse than others. It gives your baby that “yellowish” look. Sometimes they need special lights, almost like a tanning bed, and others cases clear up on their own). Knowing some babies need the light therapy, I asked our pediatrician if putting Chase in the sunlight would help move things along for him. He said yes, that can certainly help, so I took his words quite literally, went home and sat outside in the sun with Chase for about 15 minutes. Keep in mind, it was early November in North Carolina and he was in pants and a onesie, perfect for that day. After that time, we went inside and slowly but surely, Chase started getting red.

Panicked, I called a client of mine who is a PA (I called her 523 times over the first few months) and asked her what this could be. She informed me that yes, putting baby in the sunlight would help, but not directly in the sun like I did. “The pediatrician told me to!” I cried, “But he meant to put Chase by a window for a little while, not outside in the direct sunlight, he’s too little and his skin is too sensitive”. I started shaking and crying and knowing I had just caused my baby harm I asked her if I had hurt him: “Did he get burned, did I make it worse, will he get a fever and die???” Will he be ok??” She told me to calm down, “You thought you were doing the right thing.” But that didn’t make me feel any better. I proceeded to call another pediatrician’s cell phone who discharged Chase from the hospital (she has probably since changed her number…or blocked mine), interrupted her family dinner and left a panicked voicemail about how I left Chase in the sun and I think he’s going to die. She called me back right away, mid chomp of her chicken salad, and asked how long I had left him in the car alone. “Noooo, I cried”, and explained the story and she said “I thought by your voicemail that you had left him in the car! He’s going to be fine.”

I wasn’t buying it. I went up to my husband in the kitchen (it was his birthday, by the way) and as I shook, told him I thought I was losing it and I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. I knew that what I was feeling all day long was probably not normal. I said “I’m not ok” and he just hugged me. He told me everything was going to be fine, the baby was happy and “look, he’s not even red anymore!” I guess he was just hot from the sun he had never seen before. Poor kid.

I even called the pediatrician’s office one day in tears, asked for a specific nurse who I really liked (and asked for, personally, during appointments) and told her I thought I was losing it and needed an appointment. She very kindly explained that Chase’s pediatrician could not prescribe me Xanax and that I should call my own primary caredoctor. Thanks a lot, Lindsay.

For the longest time I felt this anxious or worse. I WAS prescribed Paxil but was too anxious to take it! I was afraid I would sleep too well and not hear the baby cry or that my milk supply would dwindle, even though they say otherwise.

I would get panic attacks when people would come over or try to hold Chase. I made everyone wash their hands (everyone should with a newborn), use purell, take their shoes off (still do), ask if anyone had been around anyone else sick, did they have all their shots, and I rarely left the house. Granted, it was wintertime and flu season and even the pediatrician told me not to take Chase into the grocery stores until he was a little older.

I know being cooped up in the house all the time didn’t help. Sometimes getting out makes a WORLD of difference. Even just driving to get a cup of coffee in the drive-through with the baby while he slept gave me a little perspective. (Chase LOVES being out and about now. I think he was relieved to discover the world consisted of more than 2 faces and 6 rooms).

The truth is, once I cried and told a girlfriend about the way I had been feeling and my worries and scary thoughts, she immediately shared similarly embarrassing (to her) thoughts and anxieties. Not everyone feels this way, but it’s important to know that you are not alone! I think the thought of isolation is almost as bad as the feeling of anxiety. We have to know there are other people out there who feel, or have felt, the same way. Our bodies go through hell and back from pregnancy to birth and the aftermath. Our hormones are sky high and then hit a brick wall. There’s no way you can keep a level head after that. Granted, some of us cope better than others, while some of us go whackadoodle! Up, down, left right and there’s no telling how you’ll feel or what crazy scenario you’ll come up with.

To give you some hope, (if you are currently going through anything similar) it took about 2 weeks for these irrational thoughts to start to subside. It did take months for me to start to back off a little with the baby and feel ok about others holding him. Some would argue that I’m still crazy and overprotective but I don’t care! He’s my son. I AM protective and don’t really care if I offend anyone when it comes to him. I’m not a bitch, I’m a mommy.

 

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The Worst 48 Hours of My Life

So my mom came and surprised us in the hospital after Chase was born. She flew to North Carolina from Boston to surprise us and it was so sweet and very emotional to have her walk into our hospital room. We were able to let Nick (my husband) go home for a night and get some sleep while my mom took over as secondary care giver.

The next day the 3 of us took the long (2 blocks) haul to our home with our new baby in tow. We spent our first day and evening with our son in his very first home and my mom flew back home to Boston the next day. I was nursing Chase and trying to get the hang of it, (which is no easy feat), while spending our 2nd day home when I noticed he was falling asleep right after starting to feed. Now, he had only been alive for a total of 3 days, so it’s not as though anything was common or uncommon for him at that point but I felt like something was off. I’m a worrier by nature, so Nick thought nothing of it. He was probably just tired, we decided. However, when he WOULDN’T wake up to nurse, I began to panic.

I tried everything I could to get him to wake up but he just wouldn’t. I finally handed him over to Nick and he tried all that he could think of: undressing him to get him cold and mad, tickling him, turning all the lights on to wake him, but nothing. I called the pediatrician and after hearing his state (plus, he was slightly jaundice) she suggested we take him to the children’s hospital. We couldn’t be too careful with a newborn.

Now, I remember taking our time because the pediatrician didn’t seem alarmed, and Chase was really just sleepy, as it seemed, but I’ll never forget when Nick put him in his car seat carrier and Chase didn’t move an inch that he looked at me and said “Get in the car. Now.” I knew we were in trouble.

The children’s hospital was really close by as well, thank God, but it was a long ride to say the least. I tried waking Chase up the whole car ride there and he wouldn’t even lift an eyelid. I was obviously already crying when we pulled up to the emergency entrance and when we got inside, they took us in right away.

As the first nurse checked us in and began asking questions, I could barely get the answers out. I was in complete panic. Something was wrong with my baby and he was only 3 days old. My mind started racing and all I could think of was “Please, God. Don’t take him from me.”

When we got into the ER to be examined, they took Chase’s blood and that, at least, got him crying but he was still extremely lethargic. They found that his blood sugar had dropped dramatically from what it is supposed to be. They tried giving him formula (I was breastfeeding but was willing to do whatever they told us) to get his blood sugar up, but he spit it all up. After a couple more routine tests, they sat us down and the ER doctors explained that they needed to admit Chase and he was going to need to have a full infection testing done. They explained that they needed to check his urine (this meant a catheter was required), his spinal fluid (a spinal tab would be required), and X Rays (his arms would be pinned above his head), and we would need to leave him for the spinal tap because they would need a sterile environment.

The doctor (who was extremely kind) explained that the spinal tap would be much like the epidural I got while giving birth to Chase. This broke me down. Not only was I not allowed to be there and hold him, but they were going to invasively stick a tiny tube into my son’s spine to extract fluid to see if he had some kind of infection.

I’ll never forget sitting in that waiting room while they did the spinal tap. Your mind takes you to some pretty dark places when you have nothing to do but think and wait. You learn a lot about yourself and your spouse in a moment like that.

After watching them put a catheter in my newborn’s newly circumcised penis and watching him scream in pain, I decided I couldn’t watch them pin his arms above his head to take his X Rays. I sent Nick in with him because I couldn’t take any more. I felt so helpless and completely alone. There’s no comfort you can give or receive when you’re watching your child in pain.

After every test, I grabbed Chase and held him and cried with him. I wanted to make the medical staff just do the tests on me instead. He was too little, too small, too new for all of this. Too innocent.

We were finally admitted upstairs where we would spend the next 48 hours waiting on test results, wondering if our new baby had meningitis, or worse. They would be pumping him with antibiotics (just in case he did have some kind of infection) through an IV in his tiny hand, which would be wrapped up in a cast made of a heavy stint and a diaper. This was awful because his tiny arm couldn’t hold the weight of the cast and he kept hitting himself in the head and face with it while trying to sleep.

They had an old, squeaky, reclining chair, a “couch”, and a little crib that looked more like a cage for a small animal. They us a few thin blankets and pillows. I couldn’t sleep and neither could Nick so we just took turns watching Chase while the other shut their eyes (eventually I just climbed into the crib with Chase to try to sleep, at least I could be near him). I was breastfeeding him every 2-3 hours and the nurses kept coming in throughout the night and day to check his vitals and push more fluids and antibiotics.

At one point, I sent Nick home to sleep because all we were doing was waiting. We also didn’t have anything with us as far as clothes or toiletries so I sent him home for a little while to try and sleep (which he didn’t) and gather some things.

The worst part was not knowing and just praying that Chase was ok. I had a lump in the back of my throat that was just waiting to break free with the sound of anyone familiar and close. It is extremely isolating, being in a situation like that without any family or childhood friends around. I felt really alone. There’s something about the way people who have known and loved you your whole life can make you feel safe. Even just safe enough to break down because I was trying so hard to keep it together and as parents, Nick and I were just trying to be strong. But as a daughter, I needed my own parents at that moment and I couldn’t have them, which was really hard.

After 48 hours of being stuck in that room, holding my little baby, watching him get poked, prodded, and examined, we were finally met with the team of doctors, PA’s, medical students, and residents who explained that all of Chase’s tests had come back negative. THANK GOD. They came to the not so clear conclusion that the combination of Chase being jaundice and not getting as much milk as we thought contributed to his drop in blood sugar. We had a lactation consultant come to the room and help me.

I HIGHLY recommend seeing a lactation consultant if you are a new nursing mom. They have all been such a huge help to me and were completely covered by our insurance. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have continued to nurse because I was paranoid that Chase wasn’t getting enough milk and that this would happen again. These women were truly a huge blessing! The lactation consultant in the children’s hospital was like an angel. She was so kind and helpful. I ended up using a nipple shield for Chase because he was having trouble latching and my nipples were raw and chapped. She saved me. She was like having my mom there. she was so gentle, empathetic and kind. Sometimes all you need is another kind woman around to make you feel ok.

We were finally discharged after 2 days and we got to pack up and take our healthy baby home, which was such a blessing and huge relief. On our way out of the hospital, I looked around for the first time and realized I hadn’t left that room once. As we walked down the hall towards the elevator I began to feel really guilty. Room after room of sick children, some of whom won’t get to go home. Their parents are in there just trying to make their child happy and comfortable enough to put their little minds at ease and not think about their illnesses and pains.

I had been thinking about how long 48 hours felt. How uncomfortable I was and how I just wanted to take our new baby back to our house, to all of the comforts of home. Meanwhile, some of these people are just praying to stay there longer because that means their child is still here. How seldom we realize just how lucky and blessed we are.

As I said before, I am an anxious person by nature, I always have been. But after this stay in the hospital, I was about to find out what it really means to be anxious. If I thought I knew about anxiety before, I was about to have an awakening like a sledge hammer to the head.  If I thought I knew what it was like to worry before, I was about to find out what it’s like to have your heart racing out of your chest while you shake and sob alone in the bathroom so no one can hear or see you lose your mind because you’re certain your child is going to die.

Enter in: Post Partum Anxiety…..

(This picture was taken early in the day before we called the pediatrician. Chase looks so tiny, only 3 days old!)

 

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(This was in the hospital. One of the items I asked Nick to bring from home was Chase’s Rock N Play so he could be more comfortable and I could watch him sleep better from the couch. His cast was so big and this was the only way he could sleep.)