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When I lost my job in public relations it felt awful. I left a job and people I loved in the not-for-profit world for one in consumer electronics because I thought it would advance me in my career. It was close to home and paid much more than I was making, and so, after much back and forth, I took it.

The problem was, I wasn’t very good at the new job. The passion I held for the museum I left could not be replicated in the consumer world. I felt timid and confused and spent a better part of a year hoping to not be put on the spot, afraid it would reveal the truth.

Despite all that, getting fired was terrible. Although a part of me felt relief that I could just go, I still felt awful about my performance. It wasn’t the right job for me, but it was still my job. I should have worked harder. Done better.

My current gig is one I am passionate about. Being a mother brings me both joy and a sense of accomplishment. I’m good at this job, most of the time.

Lately, though, I feel like I’m slipping into the failing zone, and while no one can hand me a pink slip, I’m still aware I need to do better.

Two and a half is a challenging age. Owen argues with me, is defiant and fresh. He refuses to nap, pushes boundaries and tells me “no” all day long. At 6 months, Ryan is a happy little thing, until he’s not. Lately I spend my days more frustrated than happy. I feel burdened and unappreciated by my two small people. I am grumpy and annoyed easily and on top of that, I yell.

I could hear myself yelling more than I should, but when Owen called me out on it, I knew it had to stop. After getting out of bed AGAIN to go potty (he knows he can get out of bed for that), I snapped that it was ENOUGH.

“Why are you yelling at me, Mommy?” He asked.

“I’m not, bud,” I said, backtracking.

“Well, you were…”

Ouch.

I’m afraid that I’m so caught up in the endless minutiae of the every day, that I am missing the good stuff. I don’t want to miss a funny quote or a big cheesy grin because I’m mad that I tripped over a stray toy for the 10th time. I don’t want my kids to remember me as a grumpy mommy who yelled over nothing. I want my words and tone to mean something.

I don’t like the mother I’ve been lately, but unlike my previous job, I’m going to do something about it. I need to take a deep breath, calm my blood pressure and start a new. One day my house will stay clean and no one will be fighting me over a nap, but that also means my babies will have left the nest. I need to focus more on the now and appreciate this time while they are still little.

And so, I have an opportunity to change the way things are. This time I can, I WILL, do better.

At least you can have an occasional drink at this job.

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(He’s laughing at me. I lose.)

I’m feeling a bit off this week. Slightly down-in-the-dumps, weepy and irritable. I don’t know if it’s some lingering postpartum-ness that decided to pop up, the change in weather or something else. Maybe it’s a combination of a few things.

I’m still feeling grumpy about my weight and my body image is kind of at an all-time low. The number on the scale just isn’t budging, not even a little, and it’s messing with my head. I realize it has only been 12 weeks since Ryan was born, but I don’t think a pound or two lost is too much to ask. Or for my pants to fit.

Toss in a messy house that I just can’t get a grip on (it’s a vicious circle of stuff needing to get done, getting overwhelmed by the stuff and as a result ignoring the stuff, only then having more stuff to deal with), and I need a serious reboot.

We took the boys to a fall festival at a local farm yesterday and that was really nice. Ryan slept through most of it, but Owen really enjoyed his first hayride and corn maze and it made me happy to give him those experiences.

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Today I baked up some pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins (both in regular and size-wee) and while those will do nothing to help the weight issue, they sure taste good.

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I know this “meh” will pass, but I hope it does sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’m off to eat a muffin.

When you walk into our house you have to go up a short flight up stairs to go into our main living space. We have a gate at the top. A gate that is always closed and the dangers of an open gate have been drilled into Owen’s head, so much so that if it’s even a little ajar, he will walk away from it as far as he can while saying, “no, no, no.”

You know where this is going, right?

Two days ago we had his new bedroom furniture delivered, so we took the gate down to make more room. And…we got lazy, I guess, and complacent in the idea that Owen knew not to go near the stairs so it was fine for a day.

Yesterday afternoon I was finishing up some stuff in the kitchen while Owen road around the house on his little John Deer tractor. I could hear him going up and down the hallway and around the living room. I was listening, but I wasn’t really paying attention. All of the sudden I heard the sound of wheels speeding down the stairs. It happened so quickly, and as soon as my brain registered what I was hearing I started to run the 10 or so feet to the top of the stairs.

I was too late. I made it just in time to hear his first scream and when I came around the corner he was lying on his back on the bottom (tile!) landing, the wheels of his little tractor spinning next to him. As I flew down the stairs a million thoughts were racing through my head (Broken bones! Head injury!), but when I reached him the only thing I could see was red.

There was so.much.blood. I scooped him up and while he howled and buried his head into me, I tried to decipher where it was all coming from. With all that screaming it wasn’t hard to figure out that it was his mouth. The entire thing was filled with dark red, his teeth hidden beneath a pool of it and it ran down his chin and down my shirt. I ran into the bathroom, wet a washcloth and tried to wipe as much away as I could, all the while comforting him and trying to stay calm for him.

My brain was not calm. My baby was hurt, there was blood everywhere and it just kept coming.

I managed to get him to stick out his tongue and do a quick sweep of his teeth, and discovered that he had bit into both his top and bottom lips, but I didn’t know how badly. I grabbed my phone and called Michael, who thankfully picked up and said he would come right home. I couldn’t decide if I needed to take Owen to the hospital or not. He was still sobbing and the blood was still flowing. I just couldn’t tell how bad the injury was. And I started to cry. Luckily, being away from the mess and having a straight head, Michael texted me right then and suggested I call our pediatrician first before heading the ER. I did, and they told me to bring him in.

I grabbed a bag of ice and tried to get him to hold it to his mouth (ha) as I gathered up our things. In my rush, I didn’t even put shoes on the poor kid, although I did at least remember to throw them in my bag. As I peeled out of the garage, I put on a brave face and waved at the neighbors who were talking next to the basketball hoop on our street. (We think this may actually be why he fell down the stairs — I think he was driving by the top when he noticed them playing ball through the screen door and leaned forward to get a better view.)

It was only then I noticed my entire shirt was soaked with blood and it was streaked across my cheek. I probably looked like a pregnant serial killer.

The ride was less than 10 minutes, but it felt endless. The bleeding had slowed, but he still looked like a vampire after a good meal. I tried to make him feel better by telling him that our doctor would make it better soon and Daddy was going to meet us there. He had stopped screaming, but the whimpering was just as sad.He also kept repeating, “I know…I know….” in a sad little voice. I must have been saying that to him as I tried to calm him before, “I know, baby, it hurts. I know.”

I bustled him into the waiting room at the pediatrician’s and as soon as he saw the plethora of trucks and trains to play with, he was off and happy as a clam. Of course. When Michael walked in a few minutes later, had he not seen me covered in blood, I’m not sure he would have believed anything had really happened.

Long story short, he’s fine. He split his top lip, bit into the bottom lip but not enough to cause major damage, and split that ridge of gum between his front two teeth, which was the source of most of the blood. According to his doctor, mouth wounds bleed A LOT, but usually heal up quickly and nicely. He has a bruise on his cheek and his lips are puffy, but that’s the worst of it. He gets to skip a day or two or tooth brushing and eat soft and cold things, like the Popsicle he had last night. Basically, any kid’s dream.

Today he’s in great spirits and actually looks pretty good, considering. I think we can even go to Target today without getting suspicious looks. (Negligent mother, aisle five.)

We are so lucky. This could have been a million times worse. But I can’t erase the vision of him lying there spewing blood, or the guilt that is nagging at the back of my mind.

The gate should have been there. I should have been paying more attention. This could have been prevented.

I guess it’s a lesson learned for all, one I hope to never repeat. And I KNOW this is just the beginning. There will be more injuries. Probably a broken bone, a trip to the ER, some stitches. He is a boy, after all, and we’re having another one.

But still. My heart. My baby.

Gah, parenthood.

“Just wait,” my mother told me. “One day, you’ll get it. You’ll understand.”

She was referring the love she has for her children. The love that makes her want to call us each day, offer advice (even if unsolicited) and causes her to worry about us when we travel. I always understood, in a way. I mean, we’re her children. Of course she loves us. I got it. At least, I thought I did.

~

The other night I was watching a story on the news about the shooting in Arizona. As the reporter finished her coverage of Gabby Giffords’ condition and moved on to the death of nine-year old Christina Green, I felt my breath catch in my chest and my eyes start to water. I have a hard time watching the news lately. I left the room, unable to listen any longer, and went into the kitchen to prepare dinner. As I stirred the contents of a pot on the stove, I stifled a sob; not wanting Michael to hear me in the other room because I knew if I started to speak I would lose it completely.

At that moment, Owen began to cry. He hadn’t been asleep long, so I went upstairs to soothe him back to sleep, taking the stairs two at a time. I scooped him out of his crib and he buried his head into my shoulder as I settled into the glider. He quieted quickly, but I continued to rock and rock. Longer than necessary. Not because he needed me, but because I needed him.

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I wear my heart on the outside now, constantly in a position to have it shattered into a million pieces at any moment. Sometimes when I look at him, I actually hurt. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s true. The emotions I feel for this child translate into something physical, something that aches. I had heard about this: this love for a child. But I didn’t get it.

Now I do.

~

A lot of my friends are pregnant with their first babies right now and part of me is envious of them, because they will get to experience this feeling for the first time soon. It’s not the same as the love you feel when you’re pregnant with them. Not even the same the moment they are placed on your chest seconds after being born. This volcano of emotion that comes with being a mother is something that these words aren’t even close to accurately describing.

There is an invisible string tethering me to my child; one that cannot be broken because he is my son. My son, whose smile, whose babbling, whose laughter makes the sun shine, the birds sing, and every other sappy thing you can think of. I have never felt love like this before.

~

I have an amazing husband. One who makes others look bad — even the good ones — because as husbands go, he takes the cake. I love him with my heart and soul. And one day, there will be a woman who loves my son with the same intensity as I love his father.

But guess what? She will never love him like I do. And I hate to admit it, because as someone who has struggled to win approval from my mother-in-law, I always swore I would make it easy on my future daughter-in-law. And while I will be sweet and kind and hope that she will be like a daughter to me, she will still never be the one who loves him the most. Even though she will love him with everything she has, it will never be the most.

That will always be me.

Always.

~

Tomorrow Owen will be seven months old. Michael remarked today that once that happens, he’s closer to a year than to a newborn. That sentence made me cry. He’s still a baby, yes, but it’s fleeting. It’s flying by and one day years from now, he will be a man. I cherish these achingly wonderful days because even though love hurts, it hurts so good.

I get it now, Mom. I really, really get it.

I wrote this post about a month ago, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to publish it. At the time, I was ragged; emotionally raw. And SO TIRED. A month has passed, and now I feel comfortable sharing these feelings because I think it’s important to do so. In the weeks since I wrote this, the Blues have passed and I am so thankful for that. And while sleep still is challenging, we’re getting FOUR HOUR STRETCHES WOO HOO!!!! and that makes a world of difference. It’s amazing how much can change in a month!

~

Owen is one month old today. One month! The past four weeks have alternately flown by and dragged at a snail’s pace. We’ve been initiated into Parenthood and while I wouldn’t give him up for all the stilettos in the world, I have to be perfectly honest and say this month has not been easy for me.

I read a lot about emotions postpartum because I had a sneaky suspicion I might be susceptible to Postpartum Depression. I’m a very sensitive and emotional person without crazy hormones, and I saw how pregnancy hormones affected my moods from day-to-day. So I made sure I was informed and able to notice the signs of depression if it decided to sneak up on me after birth.

I don’t have full-blown Postpartum Depression, but I certainly have a bit of the baby blues.

Owen came into this world screaming (as you will read about soon) and hasn’t stopped yet. In general, if he’s not eating or sleeping, he’s fussing. Not always, but most of the time. Strong-willed baby? Maybe. Colic? Perhaps.

Eat. Sleep. Poop.

CRY.

He was born on a Saturday and my family was with us until Wednesday. Which meant for five days he was basically held exclusively and slept pretty well. But then they left, and it was just us…new parents, new baby. My milk came in and my chest tripled in size, engulfing my child’s head (freaky!). They were so full and hard that it was difficult for him to eat. His latch wasn’t correct yet, so breastfeeding hurt. A LOT.

He cried. And cried, and cried, and cried.

He wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet, only on my chest in bed. I loved the feeling of his little body on me, but was terrified I’d smother him in my sleep.

One night during the first week, somewhere around 3 a.m., I walked into the bedroom, placed my wailing baby in Michael’s arms, walked into the nursery, and collapsed on the floor and sobbed.

I still get teary thinking about that moment, because it was a low for me. I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like I was failing at motherhood already. My child was hungry and I couldn’t give him enough food to make him stop crying. My child was tired, and I couldn’t make him fall asleep.

Week One was hard.

Slowly, very slowly, things started to get better. Together, we learned how to breastfeed. (I’m going to dedicate a whole post to it because I think it’s important to share.) The more he ate, the more milk I made and the happier we were as a lot. We started to figure each other out a little more. Though he’s still too young for a real routine, I began to understand when he was hungry, when he was wet, when he wanted attention.

Week Two wasn’t so bad.

The evening that ushered in Week Three changed everything. He wouldn’t sleep. He was up every 45 minutes crying, wanting to eat. I would stare at the clock each time he woke, bleary-eyed from both exhaustion and tears wondering what happened to the progress we had made.

I cried a lot that week. Not to the severity of the night in the nursery, but still. In his quiet moments, I would look at my son and my eyes would fill with tears of pure happiness, joy and wonderment. And then he would wake up screaming and the tears would change to frustration and confusion.

Week Three. Oh my, week three.

And now, now he’s four weeks old. After four nights of no sleep and lots of mutual tears during week three, he’s finally back to three or two and half hour stretches at night between feedings. We’ve got breastfeeding DOWN and it no longer hurts. He will sleep in the bassinet — for a while.

This is good. This is really good.

But I still get sad. And I still get emotional. And sometimes I have to put him in his father’s arms and walk aways for a minute when the crying gets too much, because it’s not his fault that gas is making his belly hurt or he’s over-tired. It’s not his fault that crying is his only means of communication and that I haven’t slept. (OK, maybe that last one is a little bit his fault.)

Most of the women I’ve talked to have been more than eager to share their pregnancy and birth stories, offer advice on nursing and show off pictures of their babies. Some, but not too many of them have looked into my eyes and said, “It was hard for me too.” It’s not something people like to talk about, but I think it’s important that we do.

It’s a huge adjustment, this mommy thing. Not sleeping, caring for another human, having them attached to your chest every two hours or so all day and night. I wanted to write this post to let those who are going through it now, have been there or will go through it eventually know that it’s OK. And it’s normal! And it will pass.

And it was hard for me too.

I love my baby, my son. I love him more intensely and differently than I’ve ever loved anyone before. And every day the Blues are getting better and less frequent, to the point where sometimes when he cries, I just laugh at the quivering bottom lip and kiss his wrinkly forehead before scooping him into my arms to settle his sadness.

I dry his tears and he dries mine.

One month of motherhood down, a wonderful lifetime to go.

Here’s a little secret…This Little Baby’s due date isn’t July 1st.

It’s June 30th.

(Omigod. Did you just like, die, from the shock? I know you totally did. I mean, ONE WHOLE DAY SHOCKING.)

Because due dates are so wishy-washy and they can never tell exactly from an ultrasound when the due date should really be, we were told June 30th, then July 1st, then June 30th and then they bumped me up a few days again…so eventually based on the advice of a nurse, we just started saying July 1st so people wouldn’t ask me all through June “you haven’t had that baby yet?”

But there it is. June 30th. And today is June 1st. Which means our baby could very well be arriving sometime this month.

Omigod.

(I just jinxed it, right? Now he’s’ coming July 5th or something.)

I’m 97% ready for him. This weekend I’ll be packing my hospital bag, washing and putting away all those little clothes and setting up things like the bouncy seat and the bassinett. I lie awake after my pee breaks in the middle of the night thinking about how in no time, we’re going to be parents. A mommy and a daddy. I’m still in awe that there’s a little person in my belly who will be in my arms before I know it.

I cry a lot, guys. I really do blame the new hormone shift that has brought on nesting, high emotions and some general pissed off-ness (mostly directed at really bad drivers). But I cry mostly because I’m just. so. happy.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you all, because as the clock ticks down it’s fair warning that I’ll probably be talking about it a lot more.

Also, I’ll be signing off for the next few days as our laptop goes in for repairs. The old desktop computer is slow and I hate posting from it. So if you don’t hear from me for a few days, fear not, it does not mean TLB made a super early appearance!

We’ve hit some big milestones over here this week. Michael turned 30, and I’ve gained an even 30 pounds. We celebrated with birthday cake, and I’ll be making some double peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies today because, well, I want to.

Weight. Thirty pounds. In the beginning of the pregnancy the idea of gaining that much weight so quickly scared the crap out of me. I knew it was necessary, of course, for the health of the baby to put on weight, but 30 just seemed like a scary number. Now that I’ve reached it, it’s really not a big deal.

I’ve received some really nice body compliments during the pregnancy, which always makes you feel better, and for the most part, I am carrying mostly everything in my belly. (And, well,  yeah. My face. And my arms. But mostly belly!) It’s just sort of a fact of the matter now, you know? Every week I get on the scale there WILL be an increase of a pound or so. It’s just the way things work. Yes, some days I do feel like a whale, especially when yet another maternity shirt no longer covers my stomach all the way to the bottom. But then This Little Baby shoves his butt in the air and I can cup it, literally!, with my hand and all is well.

Emotions. I’ve reached the point where I’m almost ready for this pregnancy to be over. I have truly enjoyed being pregnant, but I just want to meet him already. The doctors have told me that at 38 weeks, they’re basically cooked and their lungs are functioning properly, so if he were to come two weeks early, hurrah!

Except, what if he’s like his mama and wants to evacuate THREE weeks early? As in, THREE WEEKS FROM NOW. It’s true that most first pregnancies tend to go full term, if not a little late, but that didn’t stop me from breaking my mom’s water many, many days before my expected arrival.

There’s something about seeing the words “three weeks” in front of me that kind of puts me on edge. Of course, six weeks isn’t really that much longer, but it is longer than three weeks. Double, even! (Your math lesson for the day. Don’t you feel smarter? I know I do.)

If he were to come early, it would be fine. We would be over the moon. But at the same time, I’m hoping he’s more like his father — 10 minutes late for everything — so that we can enjoy this last chunk of time just the two of us, preparing his nursery, washing his tiny clothes and looking forward to his birth.

Nursery progress. Michael started painting, but he’s been doing it around work so it’s little by little. The plan is to have everything said and done by the first weekend in June, when my mom will be arriving with baby’s dresser and I can finally put all those tiny onesies away. The beginning of June will also include the installation of the car seat, and the packing of my hospital bag. Early, yes, but after countless tales from friends warning me they weren’t ready, I figure it can’t hurt to pack the essentials.

When the room is done I’ll post pictures!

Symptoms. Things have been overall pretty normal as far as pregnancy goes, but one weird new one popped up early this week. The body makes a hormone called Relaxin which allows your joints and ligaments to loosen and stretch, opening your hip bones and making room for your growing baby.

Relaxin also causes you to stand up from sitting on the couch, only to find your leg is not in your socket, and therefore making you crumple to the floor in front of your perplexed husband. It didn’t hurt and I didn’t have the sensation of needed to pop the leg back in the socket, but it was WEIRD. My friend told me that happened during her pregnancy too, so I knew what it was, but still. SUCH an odd feeling. I make sure everything is where it should be now when I stand up!

Yesterday I woke up with some cramping that just felt…off. I waited a little bit to see if it would go away, but it was persistent and enough that I thought it would be wise to call my doctor, just to be sure.

I spoke to a nurse who didn’t appear overly concerned, but thought I should come in for peace of mind. I liked that. When I hung up I called Michael, but got his voicemail, where I left an emotional message that I knew would probably scare the crap out of him. I didn’t mean to cry…I was just scared.

I had some time to kill before the appointment, so of course, I Googled. And for once, it was actually reassuring. Many women on the cusp of 33 weeks seemed to experience similar pain with no problem, and I didn’t really come across any cases where they experienced pre-term labor.

I stayed on the couch and drank a lot of water, and by the time I had to leave for my appointment, the pain was gone.

Of course.

My doctor is wonderful, and she made me feel better the minute she walked in the room and took my hand. I explained what had happened and how I was feeling at the moment (better), and she listened with concern and compassion. It really pays to surround yourself with professionals that you trust and make you feel comfortable during this time.

I had an external and internal exam, and all is well. Blood pressure and baby’s heartbeat are beautiful (he kicked the doppler wand again. I don’t think he likes the cold gel!), my cervix is closed and I’m not experiencing any contractions.

As it turns out, I was dehydrated.

Dehydrated?! I was shocked. With all the water I drink during the day, how was that possible?

Well, it’s possible. The uterus is the biggest muscle in the body and it’s working overtime right now, so even the slightest drop in water intake can cause discomfort. Which I do NOT want to experience again! I’ve already had twice as much water this morning as I usually do, and I’ll be toting around an extra large bottle with me all day.

Those few hours of unknown really scared me. I wanted nothing more to protect this little boy — this little life inside of me —  and I would do anything to make that happen. I’m so lucky that all it will take is some H2O (well, a LOT of H2O) and a few more pee breaks.

I feel great today and This Little Baby is currently moving around so I’m no longer worried.

Now…off to drink more water!

You don’t have to be a mother or a mother-to-be to be moved to tears by the newest Kodak commercial. OK, maybe you won’t cry like some hormonal chic I know does EVERY TIME SHE WATCHES IT, but come on, you’re moved, right? I certainly wouldn’t mind being a part of the marketing team that came up with this one. I bet they got a nice big bonus this month.

“Sharing with Dad” by Kodak

Anyone got a tissue?

I’ve entered that weird place where my normal clothes don’t fit quite right anymore, but I’m not really big enough for maternity clothes.

It’s really frustrating.

Early in my pregnancy, my then VERY pregnant friend dragged me to Target to purchase a BellaBand. The stretchy tube-like contraption is supposed to help you get through the awkward clothes issues you face in pregnancy.

In the beginning when your pants juuuust don’t close anymore, you wear it over the top of your jeans with the button open. Your pants stay up, and the open button doesn’t poke out unsightly. When you have a big belly, it helps keep up maternity pants that tend to slip down. And then, postpartum, it helps you start squeezing back into your old pants again.

I’ve played around with it a few times over the last three months, but all of the sudden this week it became a necessity.

My pants don’t close anymore.

I think it’s also important to tell you that not only did smaller pants come ushering in with the 2nd trimester, so did a flood of emotional crying. I bet you can guess how great those two things go together.

(Side note — Things That Made Me Cry This Weekend: Watching the opening montage in Up, when Kevin gets captured and taken away from her babies in Up, when Michael left NY a day earlier than me to head home to go to work, opening a beautiful painting of the place we were married, Teen Mom on MTV.)

I know it’s something that all pregnant women go through, but I have officially hit the “I feel gross and fat, NOT pregnant” stage. I’m lucky that Michael is so comforting and reassuring that I’m beautiful, but still. When the only thing I fit in correctly is sweat pants, it’s hard to feel attractive.

I think I might have to go try on some maternity pants.

WHAT?

Case in point:

You might notice the yoga pants I have on. About three minutes before this picture was taken, I had the jeans/BellaBand combo on. And then I ate some artichoke/cheese dip and well, the jeans were too tight.

Any mommies or mommies-to-be have good recommendations on maternity pants? I’ll take all the help I can get.

(Also, This Little Baby apparently liked the dip. A lot.)

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