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Mentoring Monday: Children are Water, We are the Glass

As usual, Monday welcomes another post by new mama to Maddie, Aymee. Leave her some love!
Our Children are Water, and we are the Glass      H₂O: the single most important tangible substance for life on Earth. It is what allows all organisms to flourish. This naturally renewable source is a cure-all for when we are sick, tired, and run-down. Water is the most pliable element, taking the shape of whatever container it resides in. Take the simple image of a cool glass of water. What comes to mind? Rejuvenation, refreshment, mmm…a good feeling.
      If our children are water, then we are the glass that holds them. Some glasses are simple cylinders; some are artfully colorful or eye-catchingly shaped. But they all serve the same purpose: to provide a receptacle for water to do its job and reach its full potential. When one thinks of a glass of water, one focuses on the water. The glass is often taken for granted. But if the glass is structurally unstable (i.e. a crack in the side), precious liquid will helplessly leak out making a mess. Parenting is a lot like being a glass. We have a responsibility to stay structurally sound so our children can reach their full potential and fuel a better future.
      Originally, I did not plan to have children until I was finished with college. College-then-kids is the stereotypically expected plan in our culture because college-with-kids is damn hard. But late last year, a burning stillness rose within me to have a baby. Adam had been prodding for children for years. Six months into dating we went to see Jersey Girl in the theater. As the credits began to roll, he looked lovingly at me and said, “Let's have a baby.” --!!!-- “Get away from me!” I humorously thought. Working on my Associates degree, we weren't even married yet (not that you have to be married to have kids). I made him wait five and half years, and I'm lucky he's so patient. When I enrolled in school last fall, I still had every intention of finishing my Bachelors before getting pregnant. But in November, something changed within me. The time came, and I had a peace in my heart and my gut so strong: I knew I had to listen. My mom, who lovingly pressed me to finish college, softly questioned my judgment. “What about school?” she asked. In her head, it probably sounded more like, “ARE YOU CRAZY?! Do you have any idea what you're in for?” But I'm an extremely lucky individual. My mom is amazing, supportive, and keen enough to have always known her strong-willed daughter has to follow her heart, even if she sees otherwise.
      Following my heart paid off. As Adam puts it, “We hit the jackpot.” Our little girl is more wonderful in every way than I ever imagined. I like to think the stars aligned last November, my soul sensed it, and thank goodness I listened. Still, in the back of my mind I wonder if having my plate so full will have a negative impact on my parenting abilities? The conclusion I always come back to is this: the answer is up to me. The answer will lie in how I prioritize my obligations. It is a given that my child and husband come first. Then my job and school come next. And my sanity? Well…
      It would be easy to decline into a slippery slope of sacrificing my sanity for the sake of my responsibilities. But will that eventually make me a cracked glass? Certainly. In the circular method of doing what's best for my child, I have to take care of myself. The battle is figuring out how to deliver on all three planes without becoming overwhelmed and losing hope--but it's not impossible. At my college, forty percent of the student body are working parents. And like them, I am (somehow) still passing my classes and my child is thriving. Or take a lot of the working Moms on Etsy & Artfire: Brooke, Steph, and even our beloved Amber; multiple kids and successful stores they run by themselves. If they can do it and stay sane, so can I. With a positive mindset, it is amazing what we are capable of.
      I find taking pride in my struggle for Maddie yields further motivation. Taking comfort in doing the right thing for my family, regardless of how hard it may be, gives me the energy to press on. To get up before dawn, to stay calm when she's not, to attend class instead of go home and have a beer: all for my family. Yes, water fuels the future. But who knew it fueled the glass holding it?

Amber edit: Thanks Mee-Mee, this could have been more perfect today... today my friend, has been a total whirlwind.. cooking, cleaning, working, parenting, wifing, and i still have about 6 hours to go... its 7:30 (head/desk) doing it with my sanity? I dunno... some days (like today) I swear my heads gunna explode... other days? Piece of cake.. I just keep focusing on the next day... get as much done today because "the next day" will be easier... it seems to help me get buy and stay focused on the tasks at hand... if not, i get completely overwhelmed... i love you!
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Mentorying Monday: Baby, Im blue...

Baby, I'm Blue      Well, it happened. I have the baby blues. At least once a day, something makes me want to cry my eyes out: giving up my cat Daisy because I can't adequately care for her anymore with the new baby; saying bye to the boys, Amber, and Zaq when they were here to visit (before they decided to move back home); listening to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontange and dancing with Maddie. Undoubtedly, my drop in hormones after delivery is playing a huge part in this. I read that while pregnant, a woman will produce more estrogen than she will her entire life otherwise. Once pregnancy is over, that estrogen level falls off the proverbial cliff. As a result, your hair falls out in chunks, your skin looks like crap, and you take an emotional roller-coaster ride. Check, check, and…check.
      I gained a little weight from pregnancy, which was to be expected. I mean, we're talking like eight pounds (after baby, fluid, etc.), so I feel guilty even being self-conscious about it. But I still feel two feet tall inside when I'm standing in front of the mirror. Growing up, the only battle I didn't face was weight. I had glasses, braces, acne, bad style, and greasy hair. But I never had to deal with wanting to be thinner (guess the forces that be felt I had enough on my plate). So, now that the glasses make me look smart instead of dorky, the braces are gone, the acne is under control, and I use the right shampoo, I guess it's my turn to go through the body image battle of trying to lose this baby weight. For me, it's not the quantity of pounds, but the size around that I care about. I just want Adam to still be attracted to me, look good naked, and fit into my non-maternity clothes. One down, two to go.
      On that note: yep, still wearing maternity pants. They were bearable while pregnant. I mean, what other option does a girl have when your belly turns the corner before you do? But now that mother and baby are two instead of one, I want that non-elastic waistline like I wanted that Slurpee during my second trimester. Currently, I am able to (literally) squeeze my butt into one pair of pre-pregnancy pants, but can't button or zip them up so I wear them with my belly band. I can't wear them for too long, however, because they cut into my lower stomach. Ouch! Funny what we women will do for fashion. *rolls eyes* Aunt Amber and I have a date to replace my wardrobe when she gets back home. I dream about this every free minute of every day, much like how a child looks forward to Christmas morning.
      I'm also looking forward to our shopping trip because it will be the first bona fide mommy time I will have had baby-free since her birth. I'm on a limited maternity leave, so I want to spend as much time with her as possible. But the flip-side to that is I don't get out much. I'm lucky if I remember to brush my teeth. It leaves me yearning for social interaction outside of our tiny apartment, and dare I wish for some alcohol too? I'm jealous of my husband's “daddy time:” going for a beer after work with friends, working on his book, etc. (To be fair: Adam doesn't get nearly as much “daddy-time” as he needs, or would like to.) My “mommy-time” consists of memorizing the structure of a balance sheet, or as my teacher refers to it: “death by power point.” I love my baby, but I miss my friend now more than ever. Thank god she's moving home.
      Post partum is like one minute you're enjoying the view from the summit you've climbed to and feeling proud of the accomplishment. Then the next minute you blink and find yourself at the bottom of the canyon between that mountain and the one next to it. Not for one minute do I regret getting pregnant, but in a way I am mourning the death of the old me--the individual me--all the while reveling in the joy that is being a parent. Everything I do and say now affects her: directly or indirectly. I am forever a different person.
      Is being a different person the reason I've done things I said I wouldn't do as a parent? For example, using a pacifier before six weeks, or co-sleeping. Have I done them? Yes. How do I feel about that? Mixed. I constantly question whether I'm making the right decision. It doesn't feel wrong, but to not follow the baby book's instructions doesn't make me feel like I'm getting an A+ in parenting either. What I keep coming back to is what I've heard and read many places: you're going to get bombarded with advice on how to rear your child, and it can be confusing and overwhelming. (1) There is nothing wrong with trial and error, and (2) listen to your baby and go with your instincts. I have a feeling I'll be doing that even into her teen years.

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Mentoring Monday: Welcome to the Family

Welcome to the Family              Five days after your due date, I had one last checkup appointment with my Obstetrician. We were preparing to induce labor that following Sunday or Monday. At the time of the visit, I hadn’t dilated or effaced any since two weeks before. I left the doctors office with a sense of the end in sight, but still disappointed. This wasn’t how I wanted labor to be. I wanted you to come on your own; I wanted contractions to start naturally; to share the “Is this it?” moment of excitement and panic with your father, timing contractions, calling the doctor and hospital, etc. I wanted the drama that you see in the movies. However, it was beginning to look as though we were to have a lab labor instead: start it all through dripping chemicals into my arm via plastic tubing. I was torn. I was disappointed at the induction prospect, but had an overriding sense of satisfaction knowing one way or another I was going to meet you soon. In one last effort to kick start labor the old fashioned way, your father and I walked laps around the mall. I had spicy Chipotle for lunch, and we had fantastically greasy Five Guys burgers for dinner (not the ideal last meal before labor, but I was calling labor’s bluff). After dinner and Mommy-Daddy time, I went to sleep for the night. Around 11:45 pm, I awoke in pain. My middle felt like it was in a vice. It wasn’t unbearable, but rather just uncomfortable enough to wake me from a deep sleep. I got up, and came out into the living room where Dad was, still up on the computer. “You okay?” he asked.              “I’m in pain,” I said holding my lower abdomen.              “Like…labor pain?” We’d had a few false alarms, and he didn’t want to (again) get worked up over nothing.              “I don’t know.” I couldn’t help but giddily smile through the discomfort. “We should see if we can time them.” And so we did. I was having contractions four and five minutes apart. Eee! The magic number! The hospital had us wait another hour before getting on the road to make sure it wasn’t false labor (it wasn’t). So at 1 am, Dad drove to the hospital, me in the backseat moaning through the contractions and giggling in between. The whole way there, the midnight sky lit up with a beautiful electrical storm stretching from one end of the horizon to the next. It then dawned on us: if this was it, you’d be a Friday the 13th baby (you were).              We arrived at the hospital. Upon entering the Emergency entrance, I commandeered a wheelchair, and was escorted up to the maternity floor. They checked my vitals: still not dilated or effaced. They escorted me to our room where I began to spend most of my time in the huge maternity tub, soaking in the warm water to ease the pain of contractions. At first, the nurse turned on a soothing CD of Native American flute songs. That quickly morphed into my custom playlist appropriately titled, “Labor? What Labor?” that included such hip-moving, feel-good music as The Temptations, The Jackson 5, and Marvin Gaye.              The contractions got stronger as the hours wore on. I was dilating about a centimeter an hour, and completely effaced after about three. After six and a half hours, I asked for the epidural. The pain was excruciating, yes. But what made up my mind about getting the epidural, was knowing I didn’t have the energy to muster through the increasing contractions for another few hours and push the baby through when it came time.              The Anesthesiologist came in and prepped for the epidural. I don’t remember much from that time because I was in so much pain during contractions, and exhausted in between them. I even dozed off a couple times in those few minute sanctuaries. He rapidly explained what he had to do, had me sign the necessary paperwork, and off we went. After the epidural, labor slowed significantly. But thankfully it allowed me to get some rest. After much needed sleep, they started Pitocin and a few hours later I was pushing. When you came out, your father exclaimed, “Babe, there she is!” Then the doctor laid you on my stomach, and I held you while Daddy cut your umbilical cord. You came out blinking your eyes and wobbling your head around; so strong and healthy. You scored high on your Apgar test (8 and 9), and latched on like a breastfeeding proThat’s my girl.               Everyone was so impressed with you from the moment you were born. Every nurse wooed over you every chance they got; you were so beautiful from the startI swear they were looking for reasons to come into our room to see you. Dad even got stopped in the hall at the hospital about how precious you were (you still are). You look just like your Dad, which still throws him for a loop. “She’s got my nose!” he said while holding you for the first time. You have just about everything from your old man: nose, mouth, chin, hands. You have my ears and dimples (one side more prominent than the other), and both of our long lashes. Your eyes are blue right now, so I’m interested to see if they stay blue or change. Your hair was dark brown when you were born, but every day it gets a bit lighter, and more and more red. Personality-wise, you’re an easy baby like your Dad was, but a total cuddle-bug like your Mom.              So that’s how you came to be. We love you so much, and are happy you’re finally here darling. Welcome to the family.

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Mentorying Monday: MADDIE!!!!!!!

SO - this is me writing in for Aymee & Adam this week!!! Maddie was born on Friday the 13th - (of August of course) She is beautiful as I knew that she would be... amazing long lashes and kiss worthy lips! Just a total doll... and I am just 1 week away from getting to kiss and squeeze and love on her...

(I got this shirt for Maddie from Small Threads and she wore it home from the hospital! I feel so special, lol)  Leave a comment with a big 'ol congrats to Aymee & Adam :)
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