Am I Doing Enough?

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As mothers, we question everything. It is in our nature to do so because we want the best for our children. Whether we have one, five or ten (God bless you!), the questions never stop because the changes never do. It’s a ‘go with the flow, everyday is a new day, do what you gotta do’ lifestyle. There are no rules, no regulations and no guidelines on how to be a mother. You are challenged, pushed to your limits, overworked, never paid, at times completely overwhelmed and on most days probably doing what you can to just keep everyone alive and well!

The question that constantly crosses my mind is, ‘Am I doing enough?’. Am I doing enough for my daughter? And sometimes, am I enough as a mom?

The worries and anxieties of a being a new parent are not easy. I struggle with them daily. I wonder if I’m providing her with enough activities, does she have too much or too little stimulation, is she eating the right amounts, am I giving her all the love and support she needs, am I making the right decisions and the question that always follows these, but how do I know?

I believe these questions that invade our minds and make us question our choices and decisions are normal, but I don’t think that will ever put me at ease. There are days when I’m home with my daughter and I just stare at her thinking ‘what am I doing?’. Is there some kind of manual that can outline what my day should look like with her that I can follow? But then I have to tell myself that this is a learning experience and I need to trust what I am doing is always in the best interest of my child. I may not always get it right and things are bound to happen that are out of my control, but right now, I am doing enough. I am enough as a mom…I think!

As moms, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for all that we do. We can become so busy worrying and stressing out about the overwhelming amount of decisions we need to make that we forget to what a great job we’re actually doing. And sometimes, others forget too (never hurts to remind them!). There is no way to ever fully know if we’re doing enough, but the love that we have for our children is so immeasurable that in my mind, we are. We never do the bare minimum when it comes to our children.

So in moments of fear and anxiety, trust your gut and trust your heart…YOU ARE A GREAT MOM and YOU ARE ENOUGH!

I Value My Freedom…Do You?

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I value my freedom. I value that I get to live each day in peace, not in fear. I am not worried about someone coming to my house to kill me, or my husband or my child. I value that I don’t have to live in a world where my life could be at jeopardy on a daily basis. I value that I can write this blog and share my thoughts and I won’t be persecuted for them. I won’t be killed for my thoughts or my beliefs…at least, not yet.

We are Americans and we live in a world where our freedom is taken for granted on a daily basis. Our freedom to criticize the government, our leaders, our teachers, our co-workers and anyone else that we want to for that matter. Our freedom to live the life we choose. Our freedom from fear. Our freedom from being forced to fight for our freedom.

Right now, ISIS is attacking…and they are relentless. They are relentlessly killing innocent people, innocent Christians to be exact. They are killing them for their faith. If they do not renounce their beliefs, they will die. They will not renounce so they are killed. They are beheaded. They are viciously murdered. They are barbarically attacked.

We may watch the news or read online about what is happening and we feel bad. We are sickened by what is going on. But then we go about our days. We live our lives because these situations aren’t inherently affecting us. So we carry on with our families and our friends and our freedoms. And there is no shame or guilt in doing so, but can we do nothing but feel piety for these individuals? Can we do nothing but read and discuss and read some more? I do not know, but I do know that I don’t feel like I’m doing enough so this is my part. This is me speaking up. And maybe it will fall on deaf ears and maybe no one will care, but I had to say it.

Freedom is priceless but everything comes at a cost. These people are dying because they are standing up for their religious freedoms. They are standing strong and firmly planted in their roots and their beliefs. How many of you can the same? How many of you can truly say if ISIS stood next to you holding your child and threatening to kill them that you wouldn’t do whatever it took? You wouldn’t say whatever they wanted? How many of you can say that you believe in something so strongly?

And this isn’t about religion or politics, it’s about the sanctity of life. It’s about valuing our freedoms and those freedoms include the right to choose. We have the right to choose what we believe in and we should not be killed for those choices. So no matter what your religious or political beliefs are, put them aside. Stop and ask yourself this question…how much do you value your freedom? Enough to die for it? Or would you lie for it?

God bless all those who continue to die each day because they refuse to be anything than who they are…followers of Christ. And God bless all of those individuals who fight for us each and every day so that we may live in the land of the free.

Is Marriage Ever Easy?

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Is marriage ever easy? Or does it ever get easier? Is there a point where you’re just on cruise control and then…

“Everything is awesome!!!
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!
Everything is awesome when we’re living our dream!” (Tegan & Sara)

Yeah, I just quoted the LEGO Movie song. But honestly…marriage is tough. And I feel like as the decisions in your lives get tougher, so does your relationship. It gets pushed and pulled and twisted and turned and flipped upside down to a point of exhaustion. Your relationship is starts wearing thin and sometimes you even wonder, why am I married to this person? It’s terrible to say, it really is, but in a heated moment, can you tell me you’ve never thought it? You probably have. And you’ve probably discussed that thought with your friend(s) at some point or another. Maybe you confided in one friend during the course of a conversation or in a group setting among friends. And this applies to women and men….the difference is what is said. Here’s what I picture:

Woman to girlfriend: ‘Ugh, Larry is so irritating, I don’t even know why I married him, he’s literally laying on the couch doing nothing while I try to make dinner as the kids run wild…” and then the woman would spin off into layers of issues she currently has with her husband.

Man to friend: ‘Yeah, she’s being a nag lately but whatever, so did you catch the game last night?’

Maybe I’m completely off…maybe? But it seems to be when it comes to feelings, women think and feel with our hearts while men think and feel with their heads. Yes, men can make heartfelt decisions, but most of their decisions are based on problematic thinking while women’s decisions are based on our emotions. So when women rationalize with feelings, men don’t understand it, the same way we don’t understand their right vs. wrong, facts-not-feelings rationalizations.

I read ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ my first year of marriage. The book was super insightful and now I might consider reading it again. I think when you get into a routine with someone you forget how they operate until something shakes up both of your worlds and you see yourself on opposite sides of the room. A disagreement heats up and now you’re both standing there in shock thinking ‘what the heck just happened?‘. You may even stare at the person contemplating, ‘who are you‘? Because you’re both so polar opposite on your stance you start to question if this person is truly even your significant other. Who is this stranger among you? And where did they take your significant other to?

It’s easier to throw a curve ball than it is to hit one. But when it comes to matters of the heart, why aren’t we playing on the same team?

Things change when you have kids. Your marriage changes. Your lives revolve around them, and not in a bad way but in a ‘it just happens’ way. You have birthday parties and sport schedules and school projects and all the things that make having children a joy but also the exhaustion of your existence. But in the beginning of it all, in the beginning of this newest family member’s life, all if you have is each other. All you have is the two of you parenting. And it’s not easy. It’s a huge adjustment. And you expect there to just be acceptance, trust, love and perfect harmony except there’s not…there’s fear of the unknown, chaos, criticism and arguing. You begin to act like children. You fight with words. And you while you can forgive those words, you can never take them back.

Sure, there is love and those tender moments of ‘firsts’, but there are a lot of sleepless nights and delirious arguing. And then more things change. You buy a pet, get a new house, welcome another child and the cycle continues.

I don’t know if marriage is ever easy or if it ever will be easy. But I know that I love my husband and there is no one else in the entire world that I would rather be in this journey with than him. And because we’re not perfect we’re going to fight, we’re going to argue and we’re going to fight some more. But we’re not going to give up, we’re not going to walk away and we’re not going to leave our promise to one another. ‘No one ever said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it’. At the end of the day, no fight is worth it, but your love is.

The Things No One Can Prepare You For as a New Mom

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Motherhood is without a doubt one of the hardest jobs in the world and there is absolutely no preparation for it. You can read all the books in the world, take all the classes and even ask your mom friends but none of this will fully prepare you. The books are guidelines and generalizations which can honestly be a little frightening (I recommend NOT reading ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’). The classes are in similar format, giving you generalizations and while I found them to be overall informative, they still do not prepare you for motherhood. And finally, our dear mom friends (I explain in detail here, ‘Being a Mom, I Get It‘)…why would they scare us with their experiences (maybe some of your friends did!) or tell us how difficult it is? They don’t, because everyone has their own experience and it isn’t until you actually go through it that you can understand why they didn’t and completely relate.

I’ve made a list of things, in my opinion, that no one can prepare you for as a new mom. Again, this is from my own personal experience but hopefully it helps any new moms-to-be out there (or reassures any recent mothers):

1. Going into labor is a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ situation. You cannot predict when you will go into labor, where you go into labor and what you will be doing so you have to just ‘go with it’ and of course, try not to panic. I went to the hospital with a concern about leakage which I thought was my water breaking but didn’t end up being that. They ran some tests and found that as my contractions were happening (which I could barely feel), my little peanut’s heart rate would drop. Since I was three days away from my actual due date and their concerns, I was admitted and induced (totally wasn’t ready for that!).

2. Birth plan…what birth plan? As the overly organized and prepared person that I am, I had a birth plan. My husband and I decided together that I wanted to have a natural birth (I won’t say “we” because he wasn’t pushing out the baby!). We took the expensive classes, practiced the breathing techniques at home and made the birth plan which we had our instructor review and edit. I then provided a freshly printed copy to my OBGYN in advance to keep in my file. When they told me I was going to be induced I knew that meant Pitocin (drugs), which I specifically stated on my birth plan that I did not want. Well, I didn’t have a choice! I was upset at first (I actually starting sobbing!), but I knew that this was a possibility. Some mothers have birth plans which end up working out perfectly for them (well, aren’t you a lucky duck?!) but for me, it was the complete opposite. I also ended up having an epidural because of the pain from the Pitocin. In the end, it didn’t matter because all I wanted was a healthy baby and I would do whatever was needed for that to happen!

3. But how do I push? For obvious reasons, you don’t practice pushing during your birthing classes but they make it sound so easy, just push! Well, there’s a technique to it and I don’t know how to explain it (after 26 hours of labor, I was quite delirious by the last hour) but what I do know is I felt like every vein in my head and face was going to pop! That is what I would consider to be the wrong way to push. Luckily, I had the most amazing nurse with me who helped and I figured out my breathing (which took a little bit of time) and Emma arrived 45 minutes later! I will say that pushing hurts at the very end because there is no epidural that numbs the pain but it goes quick at that point, or at least for me it did.

4. You will be sore!!! The amount of pain you are in afterwards is…rough. Maybe you are or will be one of those moms that doesn’t feel any pain that day or the next but whether you had a normal delivery or C-section, I have a feeling you will be sore. It gets better, I promise you, but plan on sleeping being difficult the first few nights and don’t be afraid to take Ibuprofen, it’s given to you for the pain by the hospital (and won’t affect your baby if you’re nursing).

5. Don’t feel bad if you send your baby down to the nursery! You just had a baby, you literally just pushed a baby out of your lady parts or had a C-section which is also an intensive procedure. You want rest and you need it, trust me you sooooooooo need it. The first night we didn’t send her down until around 2 in the morning because we were both exhausted and she was wouldn’t stop crying. I felt terrible, I actually didn’t sleep, paced around for a half hour then called and asked to have her brought back down to us. The second night I didn’t feel as bad because I was beyond exhausted and so many people reassured me it was okay to do (again, as a new mom, you question everything)! Please know, you are not a bad mom. You are not at all! And if anyone makes you feel that way, they are an idiot!

6. Breastfeeding is NOT easy. Honestly, the class I took, in my opinion, was a joke. They did not at all explain how much work and dedication it takes to breastfeed. They did not go over the issues and problems you could run into or how stressful it can be for you and baby. If you can breastfeed, do it. Do it because it’s so good for your baby. But if you can’t, don’t worry and don’t feel bad. Formula nowadays has all the nutrients your baby will need. I had to stop breastfeeding after three weeks. I wasn’t producing enough, Emma wasn’t gaining weight and we were both crying and miserable. I tried everything: weighing her daily, feeding her every hour, visiting a lactation consultant…it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I felt terrible for weeks. I felt envious of my friends who new babies who could breastfeed. But then, I let it go and I lived my life. I found the best formula for Emma and she is a healthy and happy 8-month-old now!

7. You will be sleep deprived. I never knew how much sleep deprivation could actually affect a person. I felt like I was going crazy! Luckily, I had help. I had my husband, my mom and my sister who were all beyond amazing. They saved me. If you have people willing to help, take it. When your baby sleeps, YOU SLEEP. Trust me, you’ll burn out quickly if you don’t get rest. Once your baby starts sleeping through the night, things get so much better. Emma started at 8 weeks so we were really lucky. But even then, you never really get your sleep back, you just learn to make it work with what you get!

8. Who cares what your house looks like! I am a cleaning freak. I hate clutter, messes, dust and dirty dishes. When she would sleep, I would clean. I would cook and clean and do laundry. Why?! Who cares! When people come over they get it! Again, when your baby sleeps, YOU SLEEP. There is nothing more important than you, because if you aren’t taking care of you, you can’t take care of your baby. Cleaning can wait, carryout can replace cooking and laundry should only on a need-be (most baby stuff) basis. If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, yeah right, I can do it. Don’t. I overworked myself trying to be the perfect housewife and mom, got burnt out and it was a disaster!

9. Do something for you. When you bring this new baby into your world, your life revolves around them. You don’t have time for yourself but you need to make time. Do something that you would normally do so you don’t feel like a prisoner to your baby. I did my nails! It’s one of my favorite things to do and it gave me some sense of normalcy. It’s important to still have your independent self, even though you are now (and forever will be!) a mom!

10. Leave the house for a bit. If you can leave (based on feeding schedule) the house, I recommend doing it. I tried leaving a few times but would come back a half hour later having crazy anxiety. I worried if my husband was having any issues with her, was she crying, was she hungry, is she okay? It was bad. Finally, he told me to leave for 4 hours and not to come back a minute before. In that moment, it felt like the hardest four hours of my life. I did it though and I needed to. When you are on maternity leave you get few breaks. I had four hours of freedom (I know that sounds terrible but freedom from my baby) to do whatever, and even though I think I cried the first hour in my car, I actually did some things for me and it felt good. Granted, when I got home you would have thought I was gone for a week!

11. Be a partner. Being new parents is so difficult. You don’t know what you’re doing, you’re questioning everything and you’re fighting. You’re fighting at what one is doing vs. the other and it just becomes a battlefield! That’s when you need to stop and be a partner. You are both in this together and you need to be a team, not working against one another. When my husband would come home I would get upset or critique him with Emma because I felt like he was undoing the things I did or not handling her properly. But who was I to judge? He was just being a dad the same way I was just being a mom! I ended up asking him to do some things a certain way instead of telling him and we both shared tips about things we found to work best. The minute we became a team and not competitors we were able to focus doing the best by Emma, and that’s what was most important.

12. Have a date night. It will be so hard to leave. You will go out and want to come home the minute you pull out of the sub but don’t do it, stay out. You need to reconnect. You need to focus on the two of you. And don’t spend the whole time talking about the baby! Sure, share those special moments but don’t let it consume your evening. Get back to the two of you because your relationship is a crucial part of the new family dynamic. If you are single, have a YOU night. Have someone come watch your baby while you get a manicure or a massage. There is no guilt in leaving for a few hours. It’s refreshing and good for you!

13. Do what you need to survive. You have no clue what you’re doing, I get it! I didn’t. All the books you read tell you not to do this or that and you’re worried about your baby. In the first three months, it’s all about survival mode. If you have to drive your baby around in the car seat for him or her to fall asleep, so be it! You do what works and trust your gut.

14. Ask your mom friends! I have the most amazing mom friends. They are literally the best. I felt like I was group texting them daily (probably was) and no matter how many questions I asked, they all responded. They never judged, never made fun of me and never got annoyed with me. In fact, I still text them now about things! They are moms and they know. Emma had a lot of stomach issues in the beginning and they told me about gripe water and gas drops. Never even heard of this stuff and it worked amazingly for her! Whether you need reassurance, time to vent, cry, ask a question or just laugh, know that’s what your mom friends are there for!

15. Love. Love every second, every minute and every moment. Take pictures! I’m so happy I took so many to look back and see how much she’s grown. There were moments were I couldn’t wait to get to the next phase (definitely out of the crying one!) but now I look back and I miss them. I miss the way she would curl up and fall asleep on me after a feeding or how tiny she was! Of course there is always something to look forward to (her first smile, first laugh, etc.), but don’t let those beginning moments pass you by…cherish and love them!

No one can prepare you for all the things to come as a new mom but the one thing I can prepare you for is this: it’s the greatest, most amazing job in the world! It gives your life so much love, happiness, fulfillment and pure joy. It will change your life forever and it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you…or at least it has been for me!

How Can I Have Another?

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I love my daughter. Words cannot begin to express just how much I love her. There is this amazing bond that develops when you have a child and it’s truly the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. She’s perfect, she really is. And I know most people feel this way about their children. They are perfect in our eyes because they are ours. We made them. We love them. And our lives will never again be the same…

My husband and I were talking the other day about having more children and I honestly said to him…but how can we have another? How can we bring another child into this world and love him or her just the same when we have such an incredible baby now? How can we love another as much as we love her? The questions then continued on in my mind. Will I ever be able to love another the way I love my first? Will I be measuring all other children against her? How can I balance my love for more than one? How can I equally love?

It sounds silly when I say it out loud. Of course I will love another child just as much as her! There shouldn’t be that question…but there is. There is because we don’t have another yet. We have one…and she is perfect. I am over the moon with her. If we were never able to have another I would be beyond content if that was God’s plan. I want more children though. I definitely do. I want as many children as we are supposed to have. But I’m scared…

I’m scared of what my feelings will be for this new baby. I wonder how Emma will react. I wonder how I will be able to devote time to both children and not have feelings or guilt if I can’t be equal in my time. I wonder how I will be able to love them both. I wonder how our family dynamic will change. I wonder about a lot of things…

But some things are out of our control and in those moments, we need to let go. We need to let go of all the worries, fears and anxiety and trust that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. And that’s not always easy to do, especially for me. I am a control freak!

But there is this fear that lives inside of me…this tiny fear of ‘what if’ and also, am I even ready? I want time with my daughter, lots of time. I want to hear her talk, watch her begin to form her own thoughts and ideas and start adventures with her that she’ll be able to respond to and remember. I want to do all these things before we bring another child into the world. But again, it’s not up to me when that will happen.

So for now, I will love her. I will love her with all of me. And I know when the time is right, I will love another just the same.