Making Choices, Choosing the Future

I recently (well, a month ago) finished the book Good Enough is the New Perfect. To be honest, I never would’ve read the book except that one of my old professors was a featured mother in the book. I actually heard about the book through the university email newsletter, and it was unusual for me to even read that.

I was intrigued, and it seemed really relevant to me at the time as I had just started a new job. Plus, it is geared to university educated women who are not lacking in the ability to make choices (ie, the old hierarchy of needs, if you can’t put food on the table, you aren’t concerned about other items higher on the hierarchy).

Even though I am technically not in the age range of mothers they interviewed or are speaking to in the book, it really spoke to me.

It has completely changed the way I think.

When I was pregnant, and for some months after I became a mother, I was in a constant battle of wills, against myself. Should I go back to work, should I stay home, should I attempt to find some hourly part time job. These were, I felt, my choices. And I felt that in choosing, I was choosing my whole future life.

In retrospect, it reminds me of the way I felt about choosing a university. I felt like I was choosing my entire future without knowing what I was headed into.

Ridiculous thoughts, I can tell myself now. Especially because of the laughable idea that you can even “choose the future”.

But even after baby was born, I was having trouble reconciling my decision to go back to work.

I felt like I had no choices at all even though I know I did. It was because none of the choices were what I wanted.

Theoretically, I wanted to stay home, but the practical side of me kept saying “no”, “not financially sound”, and the ominous “you would be so lonely, so bored”.

Theoretically, I wanted to work full time, but I want to have summers with my kid, I wanted to be able to comfort him and yes, control the world he experiences.

And the part time option? Not really an option at that point in my life. Current work didn’t allow it, and anything else would’ve been too dramatic of a pay cut to pay for daycare, and there was no free childcare options.

And then came my first realization while reading the book: that I have to choose what is important to me. Second realization? What is important to me can and will change, and that is OKAY.

Working full time is okay for me now. I don’t think I can have it all, but I do have what’s important to me right now (a happy Jameson, a loving husband, a lovely house, and yes, I even have the time to enjoy them and my other hobby, photography), and that makes me happy when I accept those things as the only important things and let the rest go.

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A Tale of Two Babies, Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, I began the pregnancy story about myself and my friend and former co-worker, Danielle, in A Tale of Two Mothers. We ended with high risk pregnancy diagnoses, myself with gestational diabetes and Danielle with high blood pressure.


Interestingly, neither high blood pressure nor gestational diabetes actually caused our labors or otherwise complicated our pregnancy.


As we neared the end of our pregnancies, Danielle’s baby continued to measure larger than normal and ultrasound revealed him to be in a breach position. The combination led to a scheduled Cesarean. For herself, she was excited to have a date known (before Christmas! our due date was the 23rd which was obviously not the first choice).


Again, I struggled with feelings of jealousy (she’s going to have her baby before Christmas; and she gets 8 weeks instead of 6 short term disability pay) and the complicated feelings relating to my own labor. Our friend Megan had labored for hours before requiring a C-section; our neighbor had as well. And I felt that if C-sections were inevitable, I would love to have one scheduled for myself! However, it wasn’t meant to be.


As Danielle ended her time at work calmly, allowing herself time to wrap things up and have a couple days before baby’s arrival, I myself went into the doctor and had an ultrasound revealing low fluid levels. My level, they explained, was not dangerously low (yet), but definitely something to watch. Danielle told me that hers had always been high; in comparing numbers I was concerned. The doctor recommended I stay home for a day before another follow up appointment to see if it continued. We were two weeks away from our due date.


It’s at this time that my turning point occurred at my old company where I determined I no longer wanted to work there. When I requested to work from home for a day, I was given a “let me check” response and no feedback until the end of the day. At the end of the day that I had worked from home, I was told that I would need to take paid time off, that it wasn’t allowed. Aside from discussion over company policy, I was enraged that no one had bothered to get back to me until the end of the day.


You would think that my fluid levels would have continued to drop in this stress; Instead, they improved! Another follow up was scheduled for after the weekend. I wished Danielle good luck on her final work day. The next day, I arrived at the doctor’s and ultrasound revealed lower fluid levels than before, with very little around baby’s head. And we heard the words “Let’s get this baby out”.


Knowing what I know now, and without the rush of hormones and excitement about finally seeing my baby, I am not sure that I would’ve immediately gone with the doctor’s recommendation. Or maybe I would’ve. I guess there is no knowing. But I was only 1cm dilated, and the hormone they inserted overnight only had me progress by about 1 more before I was started on pitocin.


I don’t know anyone else who successfully gave birth vaginally, with no issues, with induction. But I did, after somewhat over 12 hours of induced contractions, doctor-induced water-breaking, an epidural and 1-1/2 hours of pushing. It was December 16, and Danielle had given birth via C-section earlier that day.


At a later appointment with the doctor, he impressed upon a co-worker that it was my first baby, I was induced and I didn’t require a C-section. There seemed like there was some surprise in his voice.


Danielle and I were both satisfied with our babies, our labors, and our recovery. Neither of us had any problems post-partum, beyond the usual adjustments a life change like that brings. We both delivered at exactly 39 weeks without complication, which we are both thankful for. I opted to breastfeed while Danielle opted for formula. Both our babies are happy, healthy, and growing really well with relatively few illnesses or other concerns (Jameson had a tongue-tie which we had clipped; Carson had a hernia which required surgery).


I for one am happy that we were able to experience our first pregnancies together, to share those gross details which I haven’t even shared here (you know the grossness, if you’ve given birth before).


It was almost like experiencing two pregnancies in one, and I’m able to reflect better on how lucky I feel like I was, and not get caught up in a lot of the arguments I see online about C-section versus natural versus super natural (you know, without epidural ;)) and also about formula versus breastfeeding. Happy healthy babies = happy healthy parents.

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A Tale of Two Mothers, Part 1 of 2

This is the story of me and my friend and former co-worker, Danielle. With her permission, I’m sharing our sometimes tumultuous pregnancy story. Due to length (and maybe for a little suspense), I’m splitting into two parts. The second, A Tale of Two Babies, will post tomorrow.


Danielle and I found out we were pregnant on the same day. We weren’t very typical in that we were sharing our personal efforts early – perhaps because another mutual friend and co-worker Megan had just had her own bouncing baby boy. The two of us shared our hopes for a future family over lunch hours and then during the day around our cubicles. In retrospect, we weren’t very quiet about it, which thankfully never caused us any problems. Brian and I tried for 3 months before success, Danielle and her husband were pregnant after just 1.


We arrived on that day with little smiles of success written all over our faces. We knew immediately that it was useless trying to keep it to ourselves. It wasn’t long before there were questions and advice requested of our friend Megan for details on her own pregnancy (of hers I hadn’t paid as much attention to while it was occurring! Unlike Danielle and myself, she was quieter about her pregnancy). We already guessed at that point that we had the same due date, but it wasn’t confirmed until I had my first doctors appointment at 8 weeks gestation. Danielle went in to see the doctor immediately for confirmation.


We shared stories and compared our baby sizes to fruit. I was relieved to be able to share my story of scary blood loss after the standard PAP smear they performed. I had sympathy and complete understanding, which was wonderful.


Then Danielle found out that she had placenta previa and for a little while there was a weird dynamic between us. We of course enjoyed each others’ moments: like hearing heart beats and looking at ultrasound pictures. Danielle chose to find out her baby’s gender, and when she came in the next day announcing it was a boy after months of believing completely that it was a girl, I didn’t jab at her.


But there were fits of jealousy on my part because suddenly Danielle’s higher risk pregnancy seemed to get more attention (it’s also important to note that I had switched departments, and already felt a bit of an outsider to Danielle, Megan and the rest of my former team); because she got to get more ultrasounds and appointments; and also because she knew her baby’s gender.


Additionally there was annoyance (oh my goodness, will she shut up), which I’m sure was probably mutual. We were both in the midst of important changes in our lives and wanted to be the centers of attention. Do I sound shallow? It’s okay if I do: the feelings that happen during pregnancy run the gamut of possible emotions, and I’m not afraid to admit to some of those baser ones.


Thankfully, Danielle’s placenta previa did resolve itself as another issue came up: elevated blood pressure. She was put on blood pressure medication and shortly thereafter began going to the doctor twice a week. Around this time, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which as unfortunate to my diet that it was, in an odd way made me feel better. Now we were on level ground again, as I was going once a week. We were both being given NSTs (non-stress tests) and shared stories about our babies who didn’t want to move around enough or had to be prodded into kicking around for a measure of their heart rate.


The problems that can occur related to high blood pressure and gestational diabetes made us both high risk pregnancies. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!


Danielle and I are both prepared to answer any questions you may have about our diagnoses or pregnancies. However, remember everyone is different, every pregnancy is different.

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One Working Mother’s Dilemma

Abbreviated conversation with Jameson’s pediatrician.

Me: Jameson has been on Similac Advance [regular] formula for 3 weeks now, mixed with breastmilk. Since then, the daycare has been complaining that he is very fussy, but that he always is happier after he has a bowel movement.

[I go on and on here, talking about how I thought it was teething, but daycare keeps insisting on the BM issue]

Dr: Is he actively teething now?

Me: Yes, I felt his mouth yesterday and it is sharper!

Dr: Have you noticed his fussiness yourself?

Me: I only see him for an hour on the weekdays before he goes to bed.

Dr: How about on the weekends?

Me: That is only a couple days, we didn’t know the association between bowel movements and him being less fussy.

Dr: You can try gas drops, though if he isn’t very gassy, it may not help. It won’t hurt though. Also prunes and prune juice.

Me: We did prunes for about a week every night, no change.

Dr: It could be a formula issue or a teething issue. I recommend watching him a couple days, watch his stools, and if you’re still concerned please bring him in. We can check a stool sample and his belly.


Dr: Is that okay?

Me: It’s just that it’s been 3 weeks already..

Dr: We can bring him in now if you like

Me: Well, these next couple days are so busy with meetings…

Dr: I can offer you some samples of the gentle formulas if you like. There isn’t real science behind them since very few babies are actually lactose intolerant, but many parents swear by them.

Me: Well, I don’t know if I have time to get out there [during regular office hours]. If I were to buy one, which one would be good? I know there are no-lactose and low-lactose ones…

[blah blah blah, Dr doesn’t recommend one or another in particular but does say we shouldn’t continue to switch in search of a perfect formula]

Me: Okay, well thank you. We’ll try this and if we are still seeing issues, we’ll bring him in.

Confession: I was already at Target, prepared to buy a new formula.
Confession 2: We really don’t know if it’s teething or not. I can only go on daycare’s opinion on this, and that makes me feel awful.
Confession 3: My email to Brian after this ended with these words: I have mixed feelings, I don’t know the right answer…

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147 Hours and Counting: Pumping at Work

If we are estimating 3 times a day at about 20 minutes since I went back to work, and 1 time a day since Jameson was 3 weeks old, I have spent approximately 147 hours pumping – that is 8,820 minutes or nearly one full week of just pumping (alright, I did round up. It’s actually like 6.1 days, but that may as well be a full week, right?).

Since switching jobs, I have decreased the number of feedings by two, in preparation to quit. The extra pumping session at work, and the overnight feeding.

I’m not preparing to quit because I don’t have time at work – sometimes it is actually nice to get away for a bit. I have even been reading again during my 20 minute pumping sessions at work (rather than writing blog posts; those I do at home now and prepare most during the weekend).

[Side note: The room is nicer at my job here. If you remember, I showed some pictures of my previous job’s lactation room. Here’s what it looks like here.

The room was re-done very recently; since I have started, they have removed the office desk that was in the room. I wish I had gotten before and afters of that. (though, the glass side table is a poor choice, which I need to note to HR sometime). And look! I even have a refrigerator!]

I want to quit because Jameson stopped nursing before bed, so that was a FOURTH pumping session I was adding in, and 4 was too much for me. So it’s still 3 pumpings, twice at work and once at home.

It’s because of the endless cycle of it all, the nursing tank tops I wear every. day. , the perpetual cleaning of parts: the wiping down after each session, the washing at night, every night.

It’s because I want to wear real clothes, and I really want to go ride roller coasters all day long without needing to pump, or scheduling things around when I need to pump. I want to leave the pump at home. Better yet, pack it up and put it away.

It’s because I want to be able to have a glass of wine at dinner without feeling the (sometimes irrational) need to pour half the amount; or not at all if I need to pump within the hour.

I almost want to stop enough to really call it quits, but not quite yet. I sometimes wish that I would completely stop lactating without me having to choose though. The good thing about supplementing is that I don’t worry so much about the milk. The bad thing is that in continuing to provide mother’s milk while supplementing with formula is that when I decide to quit it will be my decision.

Which of course involves guilt, and maybe a little disappointment in myself, my selfishness. It’s easier at this point if the environment or my body takes that choice away, and then there is no option, I just quit.

(This is not to detract from others’ choices or lack of choices when it comes to nursing or pumping for their children, as these are my personal feelings on the matter and no others)

But for now, Jameson is still nursing in the morning when he wakes, and he’s having a few (common) digestive issues (i.e., constipation) so mommy’s milk still seems important, too important to quit.

And yes, I know it is important. I am just not sure when it won’t seem as important to me. But it better be before summer is up, so I can go to Cedar Point (and leave the pump behind).

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It’s Official…

It’s official, we’re supplementing. After over 6 months of being exclusively breastfed, I came to the conclusion that I am not making enough for Jameson anymore. We had two weeks of me not freezing any milk, and only producing about 2/3 of his bottles per day, and it was time to face the music.

I debated about trying fenugreek or other so-called galactagogues to try and increase milk supply, but decided I will let nature take its course at this point. My decision is based on a number of reasons, but mainly, I am tired of stressing out over not making enough milk, and a stressed out mom is not a happy mom.

I am not quitting yet, but for sure I need help meeting Jameson’s needs.

At the doctor on Tuesday we asked for some samples, and since we have more samples of Similac at home than Enfamil, that is the formula of choice. So far, so okay. Jameson was a little too tired to eat well last night, but with a bottle half mom milk and half formula, he drank down half of that.

And then he slept through the night.

Now… I don’t want to jump the gun… or make assumptions… since he has on occasion slept the night through before, but that was when “sleeping through the night” meant from 11pm to 6am, or 9pm to 5am.

Last night was 7pm through 6:45am.

This weekend is a long weekend for Brian and I, so we will continue to supplement here and there to get him used to the formula and we’ll see! Maybe we’ve turned the corner.

As excited as I am about the possibility of getting a full nights rest (almost) every night, I am also a little sad. Because Jameson has started refusing to nurse from me except in the middle of the night and sometimes his wake up feeding. I no longer nurse him to sleep, and if the middle of the night feeding goes away, it seems a short jump to being an exclusive pumper. Which, by the way, I do not like. Pumping is not fun, no matter how you look at it.

But it is what it is, and I cannot force change backward. All we can do is move forward! And maybe get a bit more sleep.

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Single Mom, 4:17 AM

I became a single mom for the week at 3:44 am this morning, according to my upstairs bedroom clock as Brian pulled away.

I realize that no one is coming back to shut off the light upstairs. (Brian, honey, you left the light on upstairs. You also left your spare camera battery and charger. Guess you’ll have to be sparing with photo taking..) I turn the light off, and realize I need my alarm on. I turn on my alarm for 5:45. Gotta hit the bathroom too. Lights out again.

I immediately hear everything. Ev-er-ee-thing. My ears are ringing, at a couple different tones. I spend a few minutes trying to determine if they are all in my ears, and I have decided I am pretty sure one tone is coming from outside, pulsing at some 30 second intervals. The windows are open. I hear a gunshot coming from Jameson’s room, which is really him pounding the bed with his feet, or coughing. My God, does he do this every night? And Sasha, making a nest in her bed.

I’m thinking, great, Jameson already got up to eat at 1 am but only from one side. I am lopsided and uncomfortable on top of hearing my loud household and suburban neighborhood. Is this how it is for full time single moms? Hearing every little noise, wide awake for no reason at 4 am? I have a lot of practice going back to sleep. I get up every night to feed Jameson. I am good at this.

I look up at the clock. 4:03. Only 15 minutes have gone by. My ears are still ringing.

This week is going to s.u.c.k.

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Date Night

Finding time to spend just the two of us is more difficult than ever with work and baby, but Monday movie night is helping us get that time together. It’s becoming a mini date night almost, after Jameson goes to bed.

It started a few weeks ago, Brian got a code for a free first night’s rental for Blockbuster Express (their version of Redbox… Redbox is in more locations and is generally more convenient, but who can pass up free?). And maybe it’s working for them, because they keep doing it! (Here’s a site that has a promo code for this week)

For us, we watch the movie Monday night and return it on Tuesday so we never pay. So far, we have been using it more than our Netflix via snail mail. Okay, we still do watch a lot of Netflix via streaming, but I had a Netflix DVD sitting on our console for about two months, no joke (for the record, it was Green Zone, and I ended up finishing it last week finally; it was pretty good).

Anyway, I have a standing list of movies, in the order that I’d like to see them, that I just kind of add to each week for Brian to choose from. So far, Brian has been avoiding my chick flicks. *sigh*

Love & Other Drugs
Life As We Know It
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Dinner for Schmucks
Letters for Juliet
Chronicle of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Last Airbender
No Strings Attached
The Kings Speech

Some weeks, I am just too tired, and Brian gets a movie for himself to watch. But for the most part, this has become a nice new routine for us. I suppose when Blockbuster stops, we’ll go back to Netflix movies, but I like the dedicated night for movie watching.

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A New Chapter

Wednesday was my last day working for a national sewing/crafting retail company. There were a lot of things I liked about working there. Namely, (most of 😉 ) the people and the support of crafting in general. I picked up a lot of new hobbies while I was there. Brian said he was glad I wasn’t going to come home with any more crafting stuff to pile up in my room to not use. There just isn’t as much time and my priorities have changed, but I still can’t pass up a good scrapbook paper, stickers, or fun beads.

I was there for about 3-1/2 years, which is the longest I’ve been at a job (unless you count my stint as a recovery/stock person/cashier/customer service rep at Big Lots in high school and early college). I will be moving from a big ecommerce team that seemed too small to a smaller ecommerce team, which will probably still seem too small, composed of people I actually used to work with after Big Lots but before the crafting company, when I worked at a toy company. Lost in my job history yet?

I’m going to be the Internet Product Manager, managing product not people (thank goodness). I’ll be focused on marketing to the same types of people I was before: women. I’m just selling clean instead of toys or crafting or sewing… But the great thing is that because its a smaller team, I expect we’ll all have our hands in a bit of everything. Just the way I like it. I anticipate this blog will suffer from a bit of a drop in postings while I get the hang of my new schedule there and at home. I am prepared to work hard and never be bored.

On a different note, this weekend Brian and I plan on keeping busy with Mr. Jameson and Sasha, enjoying several cookouts! If I have time I’ll post some photos early but if not, expect to see some next week. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

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Money is a touchy subject! Which is why I’m not really going to talk about money, but rather the planning around money.

Brian and I didn’t really have the luxury of choice when it came to the decision for me to return to work. Luckily, I feel it is turning out for the best right now. I have my adult time, and my Jameson time. Right now this works. And I’m starting a new job, which is exciting for me! Luckily, with me going back to work, we now also have the luxury of some disposable (read: invest-able) income. The question then becomes, what actually should we do with it.

There are so many options, and after meeting with our new financial adviser yesterday, I’ve come to realize it’s pretty dang complicated too. There is life insurance, Roth IRAs, 401Ks (which, we have to confess, we haven’t paid much attention to), there’s college savings, and the myriad of other possible investment options…

We had to come prepared with a ton of documents too. And I have even simplified this list.

  • Stock stuff (including Brian’s random stock he bought some time ago to fiddle with… hmmm not sure I remembered that haha)
  • Current 401K info. Did you know the financial adviser will recommend your investments through work? I guess I didn’t really think about that. We should’ve gone to one a long time ago!
  • Bank checking & savings account statements, savings bonds
  • Life insurance summary of coverage/annual statements (this is also great. Again, I didn’t know that the financial adviser would be able to help with life insurance in combination with what we have through work)
  • Home mortgage loan
  • Most recently completed federal and state tax returns
  • Most recent work W-2 and 1099 forms
  • Completed Monthly Budget Worksheet and a questionnaire to help us determine how much risk in our investments we were willing to make, and we got to fill that out separately (the financial adviser gave us pre-homework to do!)

So at this point, the adviser is going to his own homework and we’re meeting again next week to do some of the actual dirty work of making progress on decisions. A couple hard questions he asked us:

  • He asked how much we wanted to leave in our savings. Brian said 6-9 months of what we need per month (see that Monthly Budget Worksheet we had to do came in handy). We found how how much money that was, and it was about 3 times the amount that I personally thought it was. Apparently that is a critical decision we need to make prior to taking money away in investments you can’t touch. I guess that makes sense.
  • He told us, assuming that we invest at a rate that matches college tuition increases, we will need to put $600 a month away for like 22 years to pay for one kid to go to college. (this is the part were we started talking about how awesome my parents were. Seriously, mom and dad if you’re reading this, he totally said that you guys must be great and that you raised me well :))

I guess most people don’t think of talking to your financial adviser before making a decision like moving, or having a parent stay at home… but I’m pretty sure he’s now an integral part of our decision-making process.

It did take us about 2 years to schedule this appointment (to be fair… we got married, moved, had a baby…). Next step: getting a living will. And not 2 years down the road. What is it about having a baby that makes you think of all the scary stuff?

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