Thursday, October 31, 2013

The two truths: It will be hard. It will get better

I feel like the next wave of babies is starting. I know so many people who are pregnant right now…some out in the open and some who still haven’t revealed it to the social media world yet, but all whom are gearing up for motherhood. I remember when I was pregnant and I looked at other women who had their babies’ earth side and I would think to myself, “I can’t wait for that day. I can’t wait to hold my baby on the outside.” While I enjoyed the ease of pregnancy and being able to do pretty much whatever I desired, I still couldn’t wait to meet the life growing inside me. Then once my baby was born I would look at other babies and think, “I can’t wait until mine gets bigger like that. I can’t wait until she can sit up on her own or eat solid food.” As much as I loved having a newborn those first three months were a blur of sleepless nights and wishing for the next step. Now I wish time would stop and Charlotte would stay right where she is in her growth: sweet, unable to talk back, an avid napper, one who isn’t mobile and no teeth in sight.

Whenever I talk to my other mom friends now the conversation always turns to, “Why doesn’t anyone tell you these things?!” Although the road to becoming a parent is a well traveled one, it’s not a journey most seem eager to share the conditions of. This morning, while lying in bed nursing Charlotte I started to think back on our journey in the first three months and how hard it was. Hard. That’s a word I use to describe the first three months. While I do not know the exact path my friends who are expecting will follow I can tell you two things: it’s hard and then it gets better. You won’t believe me on either account until you experience it for yourself but that’s the truth.

I’m here to tell you what your other friends might not. You don’t have to believe me now, but come back to this after your baby is born and read this at 3am when you are nursing. Then you’ll know you are not alone.

From the moment you have your baby it will be hard.

after the adrenalin goes away...shit gets real
 Most people that have large amounts of bleeding or major abdominal surgery after withstanding hours of tears, pain and even vomiting are left alone to recover. Not you because you just had a baby. You will barely recover before you’ll be prompted to breastfeed from breasts that you’ve had all your adult life but never had to use in any way shape or form before. Breast feeding will be hard. You may not be able to even do it and that’s OK. Your baby may not latch, it may be tongue tied, your nipples may crack and bleed and your breasts will engorge and you will feel like millions of fire ants are crawling inside your skin. If you want to breast feed then stick with it and fight for it. Know that nurses will come in every two hours and to your humiliation will grab your breasts and show you how to shove a nipple in your babies mouth the right way. You may think you know what you are doing but trust me you have no idea. All those family members and friends you want to come visit you in the hospital and at home after baby? They will see your breasts so get over it. Tell them to get over it. Don’t even worry about that cute “hooter hider” you got from your baby shower because you won’t put it to use. Not yet anyways. There’s too much going on and it’s too much of a process to feed your baby to worry about putting that damn thing on beforehand.

So your body is wrecked, it’s going to hurt to pee for awhile if you had a vaginal birth (don’t even think about your first bowel movement it’s as bad as you might imagine afterwards) and now you have a living being to take care of that comes with no instruction book. You’ll think you know how to swaddle and you’ll fail the first few times. Most of those clothes you got at the baby shower won’t fit so you may have to send family out and buy infant clothes. Baby will sleep just long enough for you to get one or two things done (showering or teeth brushing top the list) and then it will be time to feed again. You will feel like all you do is feed and all anyone else does is hold your baby. This is pretty much the truth. Everyone will say to sleep when your baby sleeps but know this may not be possible for awhile. You will be so busy returning phone calls, seeing visitors or having family or trying to eat that you won’t sleep when the baby sleeps. When you do try to sleep the baby will be awake and you’ll become a zombie after three weeks. I remember distinctly crying a lot in those first few weeks. Crying because I was up at midnight, then two, then four, then six; always feeding and not knowing if I was doing it right. I suggest you buy yourself a nice robe because that’s what you’ll be in for awhile. Get a nursing bra while you are at it to sleep in. No one tells you that as your hormones regulate back to some normalcy that you will sweat while you sleep. You will wake up covered in sweat. Until your milk regulates you’ll wake up covered in milk too from leaky breasts. I was always diligent about using breast pads during the day but at night, after waking every two hours to feed…well sometimes those just didn’t make it back in the bra. My bed was covered in them in the morning. That and the boppy and blankets and diapers. You may want to invest in a king size bed. You will fret whether to have the baby in its own crib or in your bed. Hope you didn’t spend a lot on crib sheets because it’s going to be awhile before baby is in her own room. Most nights Charlotte just slept on my chest with me paralyzed in fear that if I moved she’d roll off or worse wake up. You won’t sleep and it will make you a crazy person. And by crazy person I mean hormonal lunatic who cries at everything, who sometimes looks at their own baby with a mixture of disgust and fear, and who contemplates packing their bags and running away.

And that’s OK.

take advantage of nap time when you can
Everyone who’s had kids before will tell you it gets better. Everyone you meet will ask you if your baby is sleeping through the night. And you will want to kill them all. In your mind you will think it’s never going to get better; that your body will always look and feel horrible and your baby will never sleep. It’s not true but that’s what your zombie brain will tell you.

Then somewhere around 12 weeks, just when it’s time to go back to work, it will be better. You will have found your grove and your new normal and you will settle in. Similar to being in a yoga class and being made to hold a pose for so long that eventually you forget you are holding it and you forget you hate it and your mind travels elsewhere and you start to like it. You will get better at breast feeding and will eventually master the side lying technique so you and baby can both fall back asleep during early morning feedings. Your boobs will stop leaking and you will quit peeing yourself every time you stand upright. If you had a vaginal birth your post partum hemorrhaging will subside and you can work out again without feeling like every jumping jack will kill you. You will build the confidence to leave the house by yourself without worrying about meltdowns. You may even become adventurous enough to fly on an airplane to visit family (to which you might immediately regret your decision but hey you tried right?). No one can tell you when this day may come but it will come and you will start to feel like you can actually handle this mom thing after all.

Then something will happen and you will question yourself once again. Your baby may accidentally almost suffocate from pulling a pillow over its head while you are an arms length away (true story). Or perhaps baby chokes on a piece of frozen fruit you give her or you drop your iphone on her head while nursing and browsing facebook. Your dog may be sweetly lying beside your baby and then get up in such a panic for no reason that it claws your baby’s face with it’s paws (also a true story) leaving you in tears (even though baby escaped without a scratch). Every day you will fail as a parent but you will also learn and grow and become more confident. Failing is a part of what makes you succeed. Some days you will just do what you have to in order to get by and others you will feel like the best parent there ever was.

introducing charlotte to the pacific ocean - one day you will get your body back
No one ever tells you what the journey is going to be like, what the path before you holds because here’s the truth: none of us really know the first thing about traveling it ourselves. But we do the best we can.

If you’re lucky you’ll have a friend like me who can honestly tell you the very worst of it and have faith you’ll get through it just like we all do. Try not to wish for the next thing and just enjoy what is no matter how bad or dark those times may seem. Because one day the fog lifts and you’ll stand there with your 7 month old wondering what the hell happened and how you ended up on the other side of the worst of it.

Your body, your confidence, your life…it will all come back to you but those days with your newborn won’t. So enjoy…even at 3am. 

they change a lot by 7 months

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thirty Random Acts of Kindness challenge

In a few short days it will be November and what I like to call, “the month of gratitude.” Every year in November I like to pause each day and remember something that I am grateful for. Usually I post these things to social media such as my facebook or more currently instagram. While I know it’s meaningful to say these things out loud and proclaim them to the social media world I thought this year I would try something different. The idea came to me while driving home from the airport from work one night. There are a lot of 30 day challenges floating around – some that involve eating a certain diet, others working out or even abstaining from certain behaviors. Most of these challenges, it seems to me involve improving the self or the ego. After all, what does the world benefit from your bulging biceps or you cutting bread from your diet? Who cares how many times you frequent the gym in 30 days? I wanted to take on a challenge that did not benefit me, but benefited others…anonymously. Instead of saying out loud what I am grateful for or posting to facebook, I have decided I want to pass my blessings on to others. For everything I am grateful for I wanted to help improve someone else's day.

Thirty days of gratitude. Thirty random acts of kindness.

So I have made a list of the 30 random acts of kindness I wanted to perform. They are in no particular order but I have to complete one each day. The beneficiary of my kindness must be random. I also decided I would let my yoga classes and friends via social media know my plans so that it might inspire them as well. Imagine if we all stopped thinking of ourselves for a moment and thought of a way we could help someone else with no applause. It’s part of the idea that people won’t remember your name, what you look like, or what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel. Well I want to make people feel good and I hope others join me in this.

Here’s my list:

  1. Buy the person behind me in line’s coffee
  2. Leave the mailman a nice note
  3. leave a flower on a strangers car
  4. buy someone something from their baby registry at random on amazon
  5. give blood
  6. give a homeless person gloves/hat
  7. feed an expired parking meter
  8. shovel neighbors driveway when it snows
  9. send someone dessert in a restaurant
  10. leave a compliment on a mirror
  11. leave change in a vending machine
  12. leave a quarter in a gumball machine
  13. leave a nice note for the next flight attendant
  14. leave candy for the next flight attendant
  15. leave a $1 in my favorite book at the book store
  16. leave a $1 somewhere random for someone to find
  17. donate a meal for thanksgiving at the grocery store
  18. donate hotel toiletries to a woman’s shelter
  19. send a just because note to someone I haven’t talked to in awhile in my address book
  20. bring a treat for my flight crew
  21. Send a card to someone in the military overseas
  22. let someone go ahead of me in line at the grocery store
  23. give a lottery ticket to a stranger
  24. leave a book/magazine somewhere for someone to read
  25. leave $5 on a pack of diapers at the store
  26. give someone a sincere compliment
  27. leave an inspirational note in a book at the book store
  28. write a nice sidewalk chalk note at the park
  29. fill up the water containers and baggies at the dog park
  30. tip 100%

“Great acts are made up of small deeds” – Lao Tzu

I know I have much to be thankful for each and every day. My health, my family, my friends, my job, my daughter, my life…I could count my blessings forever. I don’t think any of these small acts in and of themselves will change the world but I know they will change someone’s day and make it a little brighter.

Thirty acts of kindness. Thirty days of gratitude. Starting November 1st. It’s not much…but it’s a start.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Assume good intentions. Change the story

Amazing what a difference a year can make. This time last year I wrote this blog about acceptance. I was about four months along in my pregnancy and I was scared. I wasn't sure what my role would be as a mother and how I would fulfill it or what the future would hold. I wasn't sure if I would return to my job as a flight attendant or what the gender of my baby would be or how I would feel once the baby was born. However scared I was almost exactly a year ago I decided to accept whatever the universe had in store for me. Once I came into acceptance my view on my pregnancy changed and I found a sense of peace inside.

As we move into fall, my favorite time of year in Colorado, I find once again I am scaring myself. I've taken on several challenges over the past month which have moved and shaped me in different ways. I climbed the 14er Mt. Princeton with my friends Michelle (it was her first ever) and Stephanie and the weather made what would usually be an easy hike quite a challenge:

we were treated to an amazing sunrise

but instead of clouds burning off they socked us in

we could hardly see one another or the trail on the way down

visibility somewhat returned upon getting to treeline
We were attempting a sunrise hike and ideally would have been on the summit for the morning sun but it was just not meant to be. I became scared as the clouds socked us in, hugging us like a thick blanket and obscuring everything in sight. The rocky trail was covered in a sheet of frost which made slipping inevitable. No one else was on the trail besides us and it was quiet...almost too quiet. We made it back to camp in just under 8 hours. Once we got back to the road the thick blanket of clouds lifted and there I saw along the trail some Aspens that were just starting to change:

Much like last year when I walked among the Aspens in Aspen they were the first physical sign to me of the changes to come in the months ahead.

So in the spirit of changing and moving forward and not being afraid of the story as it unfolds I have been continuing to push myself past my comfort zone. I took Charlotte to visit my sister and brother in-law in Monterey. Flying solo with the baby then renting a car and driving from one city to the next and enjoying the views of the ocean and cherry fields along the way. We went to the aquarium where I viewed my favorite exhibit which happen to be the jellyfish. They are deadly and dangerous but so graceful as they float through the water. Moving with the tides unafraid of where the waters might take them. My brother in-law and I went sea kayaking where I was able to see some of these jellyfish drifting by my boat in person. A piece of plastic was all that separated me from these venomous creatures but it also allowed me to see the sea lions, seals and sea otters as we floated past. Sometimes it's ok to be scared and to take risks when it allows you to see the view from the other side.

at Big Sur

seeing the sea otters floating in the kelp

sea otter

baby love's first time in the ocean

saw these same Sea nettles while kayaking in the bay

Not that I have to go far to find change or to scare myself. Looking no further than literally my own back yard I have found the leaves changing to a brilliant yellow as they fall from the tree and the wind swirls them all around me.

Or I should say all around "us." These days there isn't a lot of times where babylove isn't with me. I have been fortunate enough these past weeks to be with family so I could get out and work out, enjoy happy hour with friends or even drink a glass of wine without being interrupted. As much as I love my baby I also enjoy my "me" time even if that just means going to the grocery store after yoga class or having coffee with a friend.

While Charlotte isn't always with me, she is never far from my mind. To me, it's amazing to think back on how scared I was before she was even born and now that she's here my life is full of different fears and challenges. Sometimes....well I might say most times I bring these fears and challenges upon myself. Life simply isn't as hard as I often make it out to be. I enjoy climbing mountains and testing my limits. I can't help but try to kick up into handstands a million times even if I can only hold it for 2 seconds. I know traveling alone with a baby and driving through an unfamiliar city sounds crazy but I can't help but see for myself. I drive miles into the wilderness to see a tree that I love getting ready to transform and change from vibrant to dormant. Transformation is change and change is a challenge. Yet the trees don't shy away from it year after year and where do I find myself but at their base admiring their changes.

And as they change I change the story. That's what this time of year, this season, this all about.