Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Keeping Track of Baby Milestones - Week 5

I'm trying to think of a cool (and easy) way to keep track of all Jackson's milestones. I haven't completely figured it out yet and it kind of makes me feel like a bad mom, especially since I haven't been great at video taping Jackson as he grows or I haven't been able to organize the hundreds of pictures we've already taken. I'm usually so good at this stuff but part of me is still walking around in a fog. We planned on video taping the birth (as in setting the camera next to my shoulders), but the nurses changed in and out right as I was about to push. And that was a little more important. With that said, the record button never was pushed. I'm bummed about it, but I also don't see how I could ever forget that moment Jackson came out. Even with all the drugs.
Our sweet little Jackson James Koester at Week 5

We're at week five. I can't even believe it. Right now I have piles of keepsakes that we need to put in something (I can't make out the top of my dresser anymore), but I don't know what to put this stuff in. I like the idea of scanning in a lot of the stuff and creating a cool digital scrapbook, but there are some things we just can't scan in. I started writing in a cool journal a friend got us at our first shower. And I can add pictures to some of the pages. But the pockets aren't big enough for all the stuff we have and I hate my handwriting. And then there is this blog. Sometimes I feel like it's a bit more about me...and I guess that's OK since it's my blog. But I also want to write about some of Jackson's milestones in here too...

So here goes nothing, starting from the beginning...

Weeks 1 - 4
Hey buddy! We're just getting to know each other this first month. I feel like you've known me for a lot longer than I've known you. After all, you have nine months on me. Yet, I know you're mine. I can see me in your eyes when I pick you up. When I kiss your cheeks. When you make silly faces. When I breastfeed you.

Speaking of breastfeeding....boy...we had our issues. You'd get so mad and frustrated because you couldn't figure out how to latch on right. And you'd cry. And cry. Sometimes it would be for 15 minutes, sometimes longer before you could even start eating. And then I'd get so frustrated. And I'd start sweating and getting nervous and mad. My neck hurt! My back felt like it was going to snap in half. When no one was looking, I'd cry. I couldn't show anyone that I was struggling so much. Because everyone else seemed to breeze through it. What was wrong with me?? Luckily I realized I wasn't alone.

It killed me to know you were hungry and I couldn't feed you immediately. But I needed you to figure out how to eat correctly. I wanted us to click right off the bat. But, oh man...I really wanted to quit. I so wanted to throw in the towel, but I was determined to make breast feeding work. I'd tell myself..."just get through this week, and you can quit next week." Week five and we're still at it.
You're not crying AS MUCH during your baths! OK...just a little....

You weren't gaining enough weight and I had to take you to see the pediatrician a lot. (A LOT.) And the lactation consultant. (A lot.) But started gaining. You and I worked through it and as I look at you week five, I'm so glad I pushed through. Even as sore as I still get from time to time. We're like a little team. This is our special time together. Our quiet time. I stare at you and watch your eyes as you're eating and take the time to look up at me. Then as you look around the room, your eyes look like you're in REM sleep and that you're so in love, so happy. And I wonder what you're thinking. As weird as this sounds, this moment is the best time of my day now because you have taught me TO SLOW DOWN and enjoy the moments that count. I was such a freak with rushing through everything and crossing off things from my list. The moment that counts is being with YOU. I have no idea why I think chores and errands and other stuff is so much more important sometimes.

You don't do a whole lot during the day right now and I wonder if I'm being a good mom. Should I be doing more?? I keep asking your dad if I should bring out all the toys we got at all the baby showers. But all you want to do is sleep or look around. I tried handing you a rattle and some other vibrating toys, but you just like to sleep in your swing during the day and in your bassinet at night. Or you just want to be in my arms for hours at a time. The old me would find something like this annoying or boring, but I don't at all. I find this time to be the most rewarding. You need me. And I need you. And so we just look at each other and before I know it, three hours have passed and all we have done is stared at one another. But I feel like I've made a difference. Like I accomplished something huge. Like I have a purpose.

I tried reading a few books to you. I sometimes cry when reading them. I's a little emotional, and very tired these days. You weren't very interested in looking at any of the pages in the books, but you'd stare at me and recognize my voice. Then you'd fall asleep. So sometimes when I'm not by your books, I read my Health magazines to you or read you all my friend's Facebook posts.
How can I not stare at you????

You love our stairway. Your dad calls it "The Stairway of Mystery" and lowers his voice every time he takes you up and down it. He kind of sounds like Count Dracula when he says this. We can't figure out if you stop crying because we're going up and down stairs and I worked out a bit on the stair stepper when you were in my belly or because you see spirits in the "Stairway of Mystery"? All we know is you LOVE it. I remember the first week at 3:25 in the morning I marched up the stairs for at least 35 minutes straight just to keep you quiet.

You also love to be wrapped tightly (swaddled) in a blanket at night. I can set you in your bassinet and even with wide eyes, you fall asleep. And somehow, by morning, you've found a way during the night to free your arms. How? Your dad thinks you're going to be the next Harry Houdini. We were actually going to name you Harrison and call you Harry for short (after your great grandpa)...until your dad reminded me that all the telemarketers call us The Keesters. Harry Keester would NOT fly in school. Jackson it was. You can thank us later.

During week four, you discovered your stuffed sock monkey when we were changing you. And you stared at it for quite awhile, like you have just discovered something HUGE. It's a simple sock with orange yarn for hair. And you love it. That was pretty cool to see.

Your dad also gave you your first "big" bottle during week four. We had to supplement the first two weeks with one ounce of milk, but your dad and then your Grandpa and Grandma Powalish gave you your first bottle full of three ounces of milk. I guess you drank it in under seven minutes. Sometimes you can keep it down, sometimes you spit it up. You're having issues with spitting up lately and you're making me nervous. You projectile spit up all over the bathroom floor the other morning. You love to hit our red couch too. I hope this is normal....

I kind of find myself getting sad when you drink from the bottle. I know. Make up your mind, mom!! I couldn't wait for the bottle, and now I find myself bumming out about it. I miss our special time together when you are bottle fed, but it is a nice little break and a time for you and your dad to bond.

Week Five
Let the smiling begin. I've noticed in the mornings you are very happy. And you've been smiling more and more. Talk about MELT MY HEART. I can't wait until you do this more and more because you are ADORABLE when you smile. Who am I kidding? You are adorable ALL THE TIME.
I love you SOOO much!!!

It's so strange. You go to sleep at night and I can't WAIT to see you in the morning because you're so cute. Every time you wake up from your naps, I get so eager to pick you up and hold you. I don't even care if you have a full diaper.
You slept five and a half hours straight THREE nights in a row. However, for the last two or three hours before you wake up you whine and moan and whimper. You are a VERY loud sleeper. You went a total of seven hours without eating. So I know even more sleep is coming. Mommy is getting more rest and feeling more like herself (which she needs). She was going a little cray there on your dad! For those who think a baby will "fix" their relationship or marriage are VERY wrong. I have decided if a couple can get through the first month after having a baby, they can get through most anything. You're so VERY vulnerable and MUST communicate to survive!!! For your information, your dad and I have made it through....just a few tears shed here and there. OK...a LOT of tears. The lack of sleep will play tricks on your head. A sense of humor is a must.

I'm able to set you in your swing or on your boppy or in your rock and play when you are awake and you're OK being in there. You look around to discover more. This allows mom to do a load of laundry and empty the dishwasher or eat breakfast!
You like your NUK every once in awhile

We're making progress and are having a lot of fun together. You're a pretty awesome baby. And I find myself thanking God for you a lot.

We're going to take a Baby and Me class together in Shakopee so we can get out of the house more and meet some other new moms and babies. More to come on that!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Learning to Accept Change on My Time - Week 4

An entire month has gone by since Jackson's arrival and it has gone by in a blink of an eye. I can't even explain it or believe it. And it's not like we do a ton together. I stare at him a lot and hold him and scan every inch of his body down to the little fuzzy hairs on his ears. I have to kiss him at least twenty times a second and he smells so good.

We think Jackson's around 10 pounds now. Karl got on the scale with him a week and half ago and he was 9 pounds 5 ounces, so we're assuming he has to be up to 10 pounds by now. We need to do that again!

So what's new at Month One?

My Body
It's amazing what we put our bodies through when we have a baby. Isn't it? The hormones, the emotions, the ever-expanding stomach and butt...and thighs... And poof, this little miracle comes out and changes everything. I expected my stomach to go down immediately but it took a couple weeks to start looking flat again. And the muscle tone just isn't quite there like it used to be. But that's probably because I haven't been able to lift weights or hit the gym. Right now I'm walking most every day for 45 minutes. It's weird how I don't totally care right now about my weight when I was so obsessed about it for so many years. However, I've tried putting on pre-pregnancy jeans and they are a titch too tight. OK...I can't even button most of them. So I take a breath and say..."Someday I'll get back into you!" For now, my focus is on Jackson.
My ever-changing body and the prize at the end!

Work Anxiety
I have two more months to go before I head back to work and I'm already freaking out about it. I know, chill out, right? I'd give anything to be able to work from home a day or two or three a week once my maternity leave runs out and I hope my work allows me to do that. Good news though! Starting on the 28th, I'm going to work as little or as much as I can (within 40 hours) from home and test out the waters. I'm praying hard it works out, and I'm think from my end it will. I hope and pray it can continue though. I don't go back until July and have a feeling it's going to be here before I know it. For now I'm trying to live in the moment as much as I can.

My Time with Jackson
I'm trying to soak up every second with Jackson. He's such a wonderful baby. He really is. I love him so much. He's been so wonderful at night (though not always). Right now he doesn't have to be sleeping and I can set him in the bassinet and he falls asleep. I find myself lying in bed thanking God for such a wonderful baby over and over, waiting for him to wake. Sometimes before I drift off midway through my prayers, I wonder what Jackson is thinking as he lays there. Then I feel this sense of happiness I can't quite explain - even when I wake up again at 2 or 3 - more so when I wake up at 5 and get a good 6-7 hours of sleep!! But before any of this, the minute we'd set him down, he'd begin crying and that's when the bargaining with God began. "God...if you hear me...I'd love three hours of sleep in a row. I promise I'll do more good in the world...I promise..."
Spit up
Jackson still has issues spitting up and being super gassy. I took him to the chiropractor, hoping an adjustment would help. So far he's spit up every day since, but he doesn't cry after... I'll take that! I also have tried cutting back on dairy as much as I can.

Adjusting as a Mom
This mom thing is actually getting better and better. I will say, I really enjoy it. Keep in mind as I'm writing this I had seven hours (in a row) of sleep... (Thanks to my awesome mom.) But even when I am going off two hours of sleep, I still love Jackson more and more.
I can actually figure out why he's crying and all his different cries (not all the time, but a lot of the time). I know when I need to change his diapers. But then I catch myself trying not to love being home with him too much because I am so worried about the transition of going back to work. I don't want to bawl my eyes out when I drop him off because my heart hurts too much. I already know that week back at work is going to be tough.

The thing is...I can't control my emotions at all anymore. I cry so easily. Before I could swallow tears back. Now...there's no stopping them. And that drives me crazy. I hate people seeing me so darn emotional. It's embarrassing for someone who never cried in public before. For example, Karl and I had a Baptismal meeting at our church. We watched a video and I cried. And there was another couple there with a six month old. I didn't see any tears there! What is wrong with me?? I read a book to Jackson...cried. I started thinking of him growing old...cried. Hoping I can control this soon.
Jackson is one month old!

Thank God for Parents
My parents came up on Mother's Day since Karl flew out at 8:00 to take his orthotics exam. I SO need them here for me and their schedule is so flexible since they are both retired. I was able to get all the errands I needed to get to FINALLY with them here. I was able to go to a bunch of appointments too. I got my moles checked and a couple removed...results to follow. I was able to get a hair cut and styled. The parents live five hours away. But, I'll take what time I can get with them.

I know I keep saying this on Facebook but I have a whole new appreciation for my mom. She's been here before. She knows how it not everyone gets what I'm going through, how the weight of the world is on my shoulders, the anxiety, the lack of sleep, the change, the unknown, the crazy person that is coming out inside of me, the amount of love I have for Jackson. She gets it all and she doesn't mind it one bit. I don't need to apologize for any of it or how I'm acting. Anyone other than my mom and I feel like I'm always apologizing for being a nut case. And that's hard for me. Who wants to be known as a nut case???? Basically I know I'm not totally myself yet. I'm not and it's hard to pretend to be all bubbly and cheerful when I don't feel that way. I am trying. But lack of sleep will do that. I get so much pressure from the outside world to act like myself. To be perfect. To be more available. To have it all together by now because it seems everyone else who just had a baby is.  I am still exhausted!!

Thankfully, I had some other moms stop by and they understood exactly what I was going through. They reminded me my priorities right now are ME and JACKSON. That is it. I will come around soon, but for now, I need to rest. I need to get adjusted. As long as Jackson is happy, that's what matters.

My mom's been helping so much and I'm so grateful. She's been cleaning the house, washing floors, doing laundry, scrubbing out our scummy shower, staying up all night with Jackson and feeding him while I catch up on sleep, cooking meals, ordering frozen foods from Schwans, going to the grocery store, taking out the stains in Karl's shirts, rubbing my back, telling me it's all going to be OK, helping me pump, buying me the things I need to help my body recover. She has been my life saver and I'm sorry, but nobody can come close to my mom right now. She makes me feel safe and comfortable and I know no matter what comes out of my mouth or body, she'll love me all the same. There's no judgement. No whispering behind my back. Just acceptance. Just pure LOVE.
Then my dad has been wonderful too. He took me out yesterday to run a ton of errands and took care of everything. I couldn't believe it. He even took me to lunch. I don't think I've had lunch with just my dad in over ten years. And it felt wonderful!!!!! to calls...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Baby Items We Love - week 3

Top 15 Items at 3 Weeks

With almost three weeks under our belt, I thought I'd share the baby items we use frequently and love. Of course every baby is different, and there are items we do have that we haven't yet used and I know we will be eventually. Or I've just started using them and am not going to count yet. These are the items that have worked for us over the past three weeks:

1. Fisher Price Swing
Jackson is always sleeping so sweetly in his swing. The first week we brought him home he even slept in the swing during the evenings, while I slept next to him on the couch. This has been a huge life saver!!! I love that we have this in our family room so I can get a lot of stuff done around the house while he naps...even though I should be napping. Sometimes I do! But I've never really been a napper...
Jackson and Grandpa Gary sleeping soundly in the family room

2. Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat (and two bases for both cars)
I spent a lot of time researching car seats. Yes, the Chicco KeyFit is more expensive, but it is SO simple and easy to get in and out of our cars and into the BOB stroller. And it's one of the safest car seats out there. I love this. I also love that I had this checked out by the police before I had Jackson. Huge piece of mind knowing it's installed correctly.

3. BOB stroller
I took Jackson out in the BOB his first week home. All I needed was an adapter for the Chicco car seat and we were good to go. I can't wait to start running with this! Jackson and I go for walks at least once a day. Worth every penny!

4. Halo Swaddlers or Big Swaddle Blankets that can be made into Tight Burritos
Thanks to the book, Happiest Baby on the Block, I have learned how important these swaddlers are for a long night's sleep!! Babies are in the womb for nine months and the Halo Swaddler resembles being all snug in mama's womb. Jackson sleeps so wonderful when he's wrapped up in one. And he doesn't scratch himself so much.
Aunt Kelly holding Jackson all swaddled up!

5. Bassinet (with a vibrator and music)
Karl and my mom ran across the street to Once Upon a Child and bought a used bassinet the first week we brought Jackson home. We didn't like how angled he was in everything else and how his neck was bent funky - their necks are so fragile! The bassinet has been a great purchase because it mimics a crib (in a way), but it's still small enough where I know he's not rolling all over and he can sleep next to me. I like it because it's flat, which hopefully means he won't have a hard time adapting to sleeping in his crib when it comes to that time. We just turn on the vibrator and put on ocean waves and Jackson more often than not falls asleep after late night feedings.

6. Pacifier for a Newborn
I was against introducing a pacifier until week four since that's what all the breastfeeding books said, but Jackson loves to suck. And this voice inside of me kept pushing me to try out the pacifier. I swore that's all he needed. Finally I broke down and gave him one when he was wailing. He loved it. He'll take it for about an hour or two a day and is very content. Plus, sucking is one of the S's talked about in The Happiest Baby on the Block.

7. Wipe Warmer
We didn't even register for this, but use it ALL the time!!! Poor Jackson has diaper rash, so I can't help but think the warmer wipes feel much better on his sore butt versus cold. Yep, he's officially spoiled.

8. Medela Electric/Traveling Breast Pump
I heard mixed reviews on this. A lot of people told me to wait to buy a pump because I first needed to find out if I could breastfeed. But I'm glad I did buy this ahead of time, because I did have issues and needed to pump, and ASAP. I remember piecing the whole thing together at 2:30 in the morning going off an hour and a half of sleep wondering how it all worked. The pump has been a great way to save milk for when I go back to work and when we introduce a bottle.

9. Hands-Free Breast Pump Bra
Karl's cousin bought this for me as a shower gift. I use it ALL the time. When I pump and wear this bra, I can read a magazine with both hands, check Facebook, work at the computer. It's awesome!! Love, love, love this!

10. Water temperature duck
We give Jackson a bath every week right now and never know if the water is too warm or too cold. The water always feels too cold for me, but duckie doesn't think so. One of Karl's aunts gave us this duck that tells us if the temperature of the water is too hot. We use it every time.
The duck in the background

11. Medela Storage Bags and an Extra Set of Pumping Parts
Since the first week I have been storing my milk and it's nice to put in storage bags. These have been wonderful and I can write the date on them. Karl's cousin told me to go out and buy a second set of parts too for the pump so I wouldn't have to wash them every single time. Great advice! Nobody wants to do the dishes at 2, 3, 4, and 5 in the morning.

12. My BrestFriend (B-feeding pillow)
I thought the Boppy was the number one breast feeding pillow, but it just doesn't work for me when it comes to feeding time because I have a longer torso. However, I do like to set Jackson on his belly in the Boppy to get his tummy time. So I do use it! But the BrestFriend has helped SO much and I use it every single time I feed Jackson. It sits on my stomach/torso perfectly! I would have bought an extra cover because every time I wash it, Jackson either spits up or poops on it. Nice.

13. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Garbage Pail
No stink in the nursery! This pail has been wonderful for storing all the stinky diapers and wipes in...thankfully breastfeeding prevents diapers from stinking super bad. I'm sure any garbage can would work, but this is just nice because it's next to the changing table and it's convenient.
Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail and the Wipe Warmer

14. Munchkin Disposable Changing Pads
We have a cushy pad on the changing station, which is part of the crib. However, there is a cloth monkey cover on top (totally adorable). Jackson has showed us that he will pee when he is good and ready, so it's nice to set down disposable changing pads to prevent us from washing the monkey cover every time. And our awesome friends Katie and Jason bought us pee pee tee pee covers to put on Jackson when we do change him so we don't get "hosed". These things are awesome.
Changing station!

15. Pamper Swaddlers Diapers - For Newborns and BURP cloths....LOTS of burp cloths.
These have been a life saver for us - the two who never changed diapers before. We love that the color changes from yellow to blue so we know when Jackson has peed.
Our fave diapers! And our fave little man! :)

And we need lots of burp cloths for all the spit up...and let me tell ya...there is lots of spit up. I have burp cloths all over the house!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting *Some* of My Groove Back - Week 3

Week 3 of Motherhood

I feel like I'm getting a bit of my groove back. Yahoooo! But before I speak too soon, I will say there are still those moments where I lose it, but more often than not, I'm feeling pretty good.

I even breastfed in PUBLIC!!! Score!

Me, under my Hooter Hider trying to be discrete as Jackson feeds in public. How am I doing?

But first, Jackson slept a full six hours and mommy liked that a lot! However, the following two days, beginning at 6 p.m., Jackson felt the need to cry all the way until 12:30 in the morning. I even had to put him in his car seat and take a drive around the neighborhood to quiet him down. I wasn't sure what was wrong. I fed him and he projectile spit up everywhere. And he's been doing that more and more. I've been told I'm either over feeding him or my let down is way too fast and his little tummy can't handle it. A friend just told me it could have been the chili I had for dinner and lunch that day...and all those beans. Poor guy. She might be on to something since he's been pretty good since then.

I'm trying to burp him every 10 minutes and that seems to be working. And I'm trying to feed him when he squawks, but the hard part is figuring out why he's crying an hour after I finish feeding him for a solid 30-40 minutes and he has a clean diaper. What is it that is making him cry like that? Is he really hungry again? Gas bubbles? Another burp? Karl thinks he's hungry (again) but after Jackson spits up and acts full, I wonder how he can be hungry so soon?? But I did hear about cluster feeding and growth spurts...

It's a learning process for sure!

All I know is I'm glad we didn't get new couches before Jackson came.

Also, I second guess when I should go to sleep every night. These days I'm ready for bed around 7 but I know I can't. I'm usually finishing up a feeding around 6/7ish. And I know I'll need to feed around 10 again if I want somewhat of a good night's sleep. Usually if I feed him after 10, we can make it to about 4 a.m. (sometimes) without him getting up. Last night, I was extra tired and fed him at 9 p.m. He was up at 1:47 a.m. and then again at 4:50 a.m. But the whole time I felt guilty and thought I should've forced myself to stay up until midnight so I wouldn't have to get up at 2 a.m. But really, my body told me otherwise and I was out. It's just hard trying to come up with some type of feeding schedule. I know Jackson is only at three weeks, but still. I keep wondering how that'll be once I go back to work? How do I calculate my morning routine?  Will I have to get up three hours earlier just so I can make sure Jackson is fed, there is enough food for him at day care, he's changed and then I'm ready...oh, and Karl too??

We'll be introducing a bottle tomorrow and I can't wait!!! This means maybe I can head out for a couple hours and run some errands, or I can workout at the gym...or...maybe...just maybe I can get some serious sleep!!!

Karl told me he's flying out at 8 a.m. on Sunday for his big orthotics exam. Well, if anyone knows what Sunday is.... MY FIRST MOTHER'S DAY and Karl won't even be here:( I'm totally bumming out, but I'm trying to tell myself that every day in my life is like Mother's Day! Ha!

Thankfully my parents will be with me and a couple of my girlfriends are coming over. I also scheduled an appointment next week to get my hair did (it's soooo long and all I do is pull it back in a ponytail) and an appointment to get my moles checked out and I'm glad my parents can watch Jackson so I can focus on the appointments instead of wondering when to feed him and where. I just read that 1 out of 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer. Scary! And I still remember all those tanning appointments before all three Proms in high school. Why, oh, why did I ever do that???

Saturday Karl and I had a 40th Wedding Anniversary party to go to for his godmother at Jax Cafe (total yum!). I was nervous as all get up because I'd be exposing Jackson to a lot of germs and the nurses told me to refrain from going anywhere until about four weeks since we're still at the end of flu season. And who isn't going to touch an adorable baby? I knew he'd be passed around a lot and not everyone is good at washing their hands and I was going on three hours of sleep, so I was extra anxious. Also, I knew I'd have to breastfeed, unless we stayed for about an hour. I knew that wouldn't be happening.

Karl, in a very non-sensitive tone (we're both tired these days), told me I better get over my fear of breastfeeding in public. Easier said than done, but sometimes I just need someone to tell me to get over it like that. Even if I'm emotionally fragile right now. Thankfully a friend had also texted me she breastfed FIVE times that same day in public and that I could do it too. I just needed to act confident. OK. That was my plan...confidence. So with that in mind, I wore heels. I didn't care if I towered over Karl. It's how I felt confident that night.

Soon Jackson was crying and everyone kept saying a million things to me at once... "He's hungry." "Did you feed him?" "Do you have a bottle?" "Are you going to the bathroom to feed him?" "Grandma wants to hold him." "Have you had grandma hold him?" "Give him to grandma." "You're going to save your cake, right? You're not throwing it away, are you? That's good frosting..."
I love this guy SO much!!!

Sweat started to form along my forehead. My heart pounded. My mouth became dry. Thankfully Karl stayed put next to me and people continued on their conversations as nothing was different and I tied on my Hooter Hider and slipped Jackson underneath. wasn't that easy. My hair was falling in my face, I couldn't see...I didn't have any pillows. BUT...I finally did it!!! YAY! 

I can cross that off my list!

I will say the night was actually fun and good for us to get out. It's not normal for us to go somewhere nice for dinner, so I'm glad we did!

I also have noticed I do have a little more time during the day...SOMEDAYS. I was able to send out 50-some thank you cards. I signed up for a Baby and Me class offered every week at St. Francis so I can get out of the house and meet some new moms and bring Jackson with. I was able to pay some bills and fill out some surveys the hospital sent our way. I took Jackson to Wal-Mart with me, though he started crying and I couldn't complete my list, but it was a start! I can empty out the dishwasher and every once in awhile I can cook. I even grilled out yesterday, but Jackson screamed his brains out the whole time since I had to set him down. The night time feedings aren't THAT bad anymore either...well, when I have enough sleep in me...

All in all, things are getting better. I can't WAIT for Karl to be done with school so we can share more of the responsibilities and be a better team.

Next post: The baby items we use the most!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Surviving Motherhood Day by Day - Week 2

Week 2

I was hoping I'd be a little better at updating my blog with monumental moments in Jackson's life, but I guess I'm lucky if I can take a shower AND shave my legs under three minutes. Or eat breakfast and lunch with both hands. I will say I have quickly learned how to use my feet to pick up stuff around the house or how to take power naps when I can. It's kind of interesting how we adapt to a new environment and how easy it is to freak out when there is so much change.

Our little family

And that is my life right now. One big change.

It's crazy. I never understood what that meant when people said that my life would turn upside down, until now.

We officially survived the first two weeks and are entering our third week. Every day is getting better - there are still harder days than others and this is a challenge for me. Instead of averaging two hours of sleep, I have graduated to about four to five (hopefully I'm not speaking too soon). YAY! I feel like a new woman. Kind of.

I was walking home from Wal-Mart after picking up our second bag of 76-count Pamper Swaddlers for Newborns...I still can't believe how many diapers we go through and that they are $20 a pop!!! How much can one baby poop?? And I can't even believe I was so nervous to change a diaper before all this. I already feel like a pro. Anyway, I started thinking of where I was at that moment and who I've become in such a short amount of time. Every step I took, I realized I was then taking a step as a "mom". I wasn't just Christie anymore. I had a new identity - another new title. And it doesn't seem real. Yes, I was dressed in an old t-shirt and workout shorts, something I wore when I had so much freedom and I'd go play volleyball (oh, how simple life was then), but I wasn't that girl anymore. I was, and am, a mom now...and forever.


It felt like I was walking in a tunnel and everything around me was spinning out of control. There I was a very new mom, scared out of her mind, wondering how life could change so much, so quickly. I have a baby now. The list of new responsibilities are endless. I was now going to Wal-Mart to pick up diapers. Where were the happy hours and the nights of volleyball and catching up on our television shows with Karl and making masterpiece healthy dinners? Where did that all go? Is this all really happening? Would I be waking up soon?

For a second I missed the old me (again). I have officially lost contact with the outside world. (OK. I did get my Breaking News email from People Magazine letting me know Jessica Simpson had a 9 lb 13 ounce girl.) I haven't been able to check into AOL or connect with friends as fast as I used to. I have to carve out time just to blog, and I NEED to blog. This is therapeutic for me. I'm not available as I once was and I think this is killing people as I hear about it quite frequently.

"You have time to update Facebook, but you don't have time to call me?"

*Enter guilt*

And let me tell you, people will lay the guilt on nice and thick. But I remind myself that these are the people who just don't get it - the ones who haven't been here yet.

Dad giving Jackson his first bath

I don't watch the morning news anymore. I never know what the temperature is outside or what the weekly forecast is. I don't know the day of the week and I've never felt time go so fast in my life. Honestly, time is flying. I don't even brush my hair or put on makeup.

Ponytail look again? Sure.

I'm lucky if I wash my face or change my clothes if I get peed on. I have been "hosed" by Jackson over a handful of times already. If I want a cocktail, I have to figure it in between feedings. And then I have to ask myself, is a drink even worth it? I have had to learn how to cook dinner with a screaming baby in one hand and sacrifice some of the healthier options for simplicity. And all that weight I was freaking about gaining? Not even a worry in my mind. Day four after giving birth and I was down 20 pounds. The next week I was down five more. But who cares because all I slip on are stretch pants or wear my pajama pants all day. I'm happy if I get a walk in. I considered yesterday a success because I was able to make chocolate banana bread and go for a walk. The day before that I was able to write three thank you cards.


I was able to complete 120 Christmas cards in 30 minutes in my old life while texting, Facebooking and doing the dishes. My new life I could only get to THREE cards with poor penmanship.

This is hard for me to swallow. I always considered myself a very efficient person who excelled at multi-tasking. And all I can do is feed Jackson, love him, play with him, cuddle him and go on walks with him. I know that's all I SHOULD be doing, but I feel like I'm not doing enough to keep the new me connected to the old me. That I need to do more, but I physically can't. So I watch CSI, and Jerseylicious and Guiliana and Bill and anything else I can watch to take my mind off of feeling guilty or to feel like I'm actually somewhat human.

I've begun to freak out about finances and am left wondering how we're going to pay the hospital bills coming in with me taking 12 weeks off work, with property taxes coming due and our car insurance and everything else that continues to add up. Thankfully my older brother was able to spare some frequent flyer miles so Karl wouldn't have to purchase a $800 plane ticket to take his final exam in a couple weeks. Will I have to start buying mac and cheese? Will I have to cancel my gym membership?

I've begun to think about day care and what I'm going to do when Jackson gets sick when I'm at work or our day care provider calls to say she can't watch Jackson because she or one of her kids is sick. What will I do then? How will I even know if Jackson is sick? How will I be? How will I balance work and being a mom and everything else when I could barely survive the first two weeks of his life? How can I leave Jackson in the care of someone else? Ugh! This kills me. But then I wonder how stay-at-home moms do it. Because the days are lonely being cooped up in a house with a baby. And that is my cue to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I can't watch another episode of Super Nanny or check Facebook every two minutes. But then I go back to breast feeding. Can I do it in public? Will I able able to handle the pressure? Can I do it without having My BrestFriend by my side?

And then I take a deep breath and remind myself that I still have to take each moment day by day or else my anxiety gets the best of me. I'm lucky to be here today. I'm lucky I gave birth to the most perfect little boy. Nobody can predict what tomorrow will bring. There are some crazy horrible things going on out there, so what am I complaining about?

The late night hours are the hardest. Breast feeding is still a challenge and I still think the feedings come waaaay too quick. Didn't I just feed you?? But I've survived as Jackson is gaining weight now and the doctor doesn't need to see him for two more months, but that doesn't mean b-feeding is all of a sudden easy. It takes work, time, lots of dedication. It's kind of a lonely moment for me. I see Karl sleeping soundly and part of me gets resentful and jealous. I never once felt those things before, but I'd be lying if I said they don't creep up inside me. I don't know if it's because I love sleep just as much and I haven't been getting enough so the crabby Christie comes out? Or I just know what a process breast feeding is? Maybe if it only took three minutes, I'd be OK with it...

Let's just say I can't wait until May 15 when Karl's school is ALL OVER WITH. This has been so hard with him working and trying to finish orthotics school with exams every weekend and papers to write and braces for legs to build. There isn't a whole lot of time for fun in Karl's life right now.
Jackson and I go for walks every day! One of my favorite parts.

Sometimes I get lucky and Karl will change the diaper quick and those are the nights that don't seem so bad. But usually I get up, change the diaper, feed Jackson and then hum. All I know to hum is Amazing Grace. I don't know why, but I like humming this to him - it makes me feel I'm back in 6th grade learning how to play the recorder...and for some reason I feel like Jackson likes it too.

Sometimes I struggle with trying to get Jackson back into sleep mode. He looks so content and sweet while he eats. He'll even pass out cold. But as soon as I move him, those beautiful blue eyes pop open and he's wide awake. We stare at each other and I wonder if he can feel how much I love him? I wonder if he can see the love in my eyes? Lots of times I'm too tired to speak, but I feel like he just knows. But I say, "I love you" out loud anyway because I know too many friends who never heard their parents say those words and that makes me very sad.

Every now and then I'll get lucky and can put him right in the bassinet and he's out. Other times it's hours before he'll close his eyes and I'm able to set him down. And these are the times I wonder how I'm going to survive all this. Can I really do this? How much longer will I last? When will this pass? Will life be like this for the next three months? Six? Nine? For the rest of my life? Will I ever sleep again? Will Karl and I go back to our tradition of crawling in bed together, reading and shutting off the lights? Now, I'm upstairs, downstairs, in bed, on the couch, in the nursery...anywhere where Jackson will fall asleep. And I miss Karl like crazy...even if he's sitting right next to me.
Umbilical cord fell off 15 days after Jackson was born!

But I can't help but smile when Jackson stares up at me, exploring this new world. I love him so much and each day that love grows and grows. And I keep saying all of this is worth it. All of it. We are so lucky we get to experience this and have such a healthy, wonderful boy - someone I can't wait to get to know. Who is this little boy going to become?

And then I realize I really am a mom. Because I worry. I over think everything. I over analyze. And I worry some more. And I love. I love to the point I have to question if this is just a taste of what God feels for us? What heaven must be like? And something deep inside me pushes me into the next day, inspiring me to keep going, to keep be the best mom I can be.

And then I do it all over again and every day it gets a little easier.  And I know I can do this.