Monday, December 17, 2012

An Open Letter to the Families of Newtown, CT.

Where to begin? What to say? My heart aches for you in ways I could never have imagined. And the fact of the matter is that no one can ever say anything that will ever make what happened, what you're feeling, and what you've experienced ok. And so I'm not going to try.

But I will tell you how much I admire you, how much I feel for you, how much I respect you.

You are a town who's name is known well across the country now. And while it's for a very terrible and sad reason, knowing your town's name has introduced the country to knowing some of the people in your town. Heroes. And angels. And a community who has come together like few other communities in this country ever have and will. And for that you should be proud.

Your town produced people who are the true image of bravery. Teachers who shielded their students and gave their own lives. Who told their students they loved them one-by-one and hid them in closets and bathrooms and gave them a chance to live during a horrific situation. Medics, police officers, firemen and others who were on the scene immediately and who fearlessly searched the area of that school to make sure it was finally safe. Who transported children off campus to firehouses and safety. And who gave up their own coats that chilly day to keep the children warm, and who hugged them to make them feel safe.

Though I only know of you from what I see and read on the news, it's evident that your community has rallied and come together like few ever do. I've watched you pray together, hug eachother, cry together and love each other during a time when many would find it hard to step beyond their own front door. You are a community who, I'm sure, will find strength in your togetherness. And in that strength, I pray you find peace, remember love and experience healing.

May you feel the loving arms of our nation wrapped around you, Newtown, as the country mourns for your losses, admires your heroes and prays for you all in this time of need.

"I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love" - Mother Teresa

Much love,
V


Friday, November 16, 2012

ONE.

How does that happen? One second you are snuggling a newborn and the next you are chasing after a very fast one year old. Seriously, how?

Conner's first birthday was an emotional one for me. It was a wonderful day, followed by a wonderful party....but still, emotional.

As I found myself reflecting over the past year, it amazed me, humbled me and made me happy. I thought fondly of those who cared for us during Conner's less-than-perfect entrance into the world. I thought lovingly of the NICU nurses who took care of my baby boy and sent us both home happy and healthy. I read through the cards that loved ones and good friends sent over the first few weeks of having him in our arms. I looked back at every single picture we had taken over the year.

And I gave extra smiles and hugs to my baby boy...some from mommy, and some from daddy who isn't able to be home to hug Conner himself.

I reflected back too, on how having Conner made Derek and I a more loving, wonderful couple. I have never appreciated Derek more than when he was so amazing and calming as the doctors informed me a C-section was necessary. And when I was recovering, Derek made sure our wishes were followed in how Conner was cared for in the NICU. And when we were home and I was tired, sore and so unsure of what being a mom to a newborn meant, Derek hugged me, supported me while I nursed, and made me nap while he snuggled our boy. Remembering those first few weeks and how utterly amazing my husband was, and still is, brings tears to my eyes.

I have two simply wonderful men in my life. How lucky can you get?

Over the past year, Conner has been the most joyous part of my days. From his first smile to his first steps, learning to be his mom has been and will continue to be the most amazing, incredible journey I will ever take. And with years ahead of us to look forward too...and maybe a brother or sister down the road, what more can you ask for?

ONE year down. This whole mommy thing rocks.

Much love,
V.


Monday, September 10, 2012

One...ish

This past weekend we celebrated C Man's first birthday with our Army family, as we're prepping for a long separation and daddy won't be around for little dude's actual birthday in November (though Conner will get to celebrate again in PA with our families). It was so wonderful to get our closest friends (who, really to us are family out here) together to eat, drink, laugh and celebrate our little guy's first year of life.

I did a little jungle theme for this party, complete with hippo and elephant cupcakes, animal ears, and animal cracker favors for adults and kiddos alike. It was an absolute blast and a special day for our little family. Just another reminder of how truly blessed we are!

video

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's Been A Little While...

Sigh. I realize I have been a crumby blogger lately. But in my defense, I've spent the summer making the rounds with family and learning my way around this "single mom with a husband who is my kid's father" business, as we're getting ready for a bit of a long separation courtesy of Uncle Sam.

And I can tell you...this learning process has been a bit...overwhelming.

Having my family 3,000 miles away means that everything falls on me. I don't have the typical village to help raise my son. I have myself, my husband (when Uncle Sam isn't borrowing him) and my small group of close knit friends who all happen to be in the exact same situation (for which I am grateful, because going this completely alone would suck! They are my rocks). If I want a break, I pay a babysitter (if there's even one available) to come watch Conner for a hefty $10 an hour just so that I can go get a hair cut or have a quiet cup of coffee. And so those breaks aren't happening. I've become of the mindset that I am perfectly capable of doing it all sans hair cut or quiet cup of coffee, and all while maintaining a clean home and being the perfectly, stunningly, gorgeous wife and mother that I am.

And so that's what I do.

Instead of that hair cut or that few hours of a break, the dishes get washed, the laundry done, the toilets scrubbed and the kitchen swept. And then I'm mommy again. Feeding, diapering, playing, boo boo kissing, hugging, story reading, bathing, snuggling, teaching...loving for 2. When it's all said and done, I'm cleaning up again at the end of the day and finding solace in a cup of decaf coffee and a Friends episode on TV before I'm pooped and it's time for bed. When I play "single super wife and mommy" my normal nightly routine of watching my men play and love each other, and then relaxing with Derek after Conner goes to bed turns into me needing to exhaust myself with productivity so that I'm not consumed with thoughts of how I miss my husband terribly, how I hope Conner sleeps peacefully...and how I miss my family in Pennsylvania.

It's been tough, and I know that our upcoming time apart is going to be just as challenging, if not more so. And I know that I'll get through it. I always do. That's never an issue for me. I just push through and barrel over my obstacles in life and look for the ribbon at the end of the race. But this process of figuring my way around it all has been interesting, especially having C Man in my life now. It's complicated things in a way that I never expected. It's made the goodbyes harder, the times alone...different. And in the same sense he's brought joy in these "gray times", as I refer to them, that I never could have imagined.

And so my friends, my blogging has fallen to the wayside as I've tried to maneuver my way around this life of being an Army wife...and a mommy. So forgive me. But know that I will happily find the time to write more often, as this is a nice release for me...and hopefully a good read for you.

Kiss your babies, love your significant other, thank your families and the villages who help you along...and indulge in a quiet cup of coffee (or whatever you sip).

Much Love,
V.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Learning, Appreciating and Adding A Little Sugar

Ok. So I realize I've been a-slackin on the posting for a while. Forgive me. Life has been crazy, albeit enjoyable but crazy over the past few months....and currently I'm enjoying the sounds of my little man sleeping while I type and reminisce about the wonderful summer day we enjoyed today.

Conner is growing leaps and bounds these days. He's got two teeth...cutting two more (UGH), he's crawling, eating real food, making mama, dada, baba and my personal favorite "aaa Tahhh!" sounds...and just becoming even more of an amazing beautiful boy each day.

I'm growing a lot too, as a mommy...and a person. Having Conner has really, really taught me a lot about myself. I've learned that my capabilities in anything are far beyond what I ever knew. I've learned that I care less about people's opinions...because I care more about one person's life. I've learned that books can't teach you everything...if much of anything about being a mom. Because that is really up to teaching yourself...at least in my case. I've learned that I am tailor made for my little boy, and that he is tailor made for me.

Most importantly, over the past eight months of Conner's life, I've learned to enjoy life much more. I start every day out with a smile on my face and having a gorgeous little dude smile back at me. Every morning. Without fail. How can you not love life when your days start out like that??? It really makes you appreciate small moments.

I hope you all take a minute and think about the small things you appreciate each day. And take a moment each day to remember those small things. And then smile. It's the sugar in your lemonade. The spice of life :)

Much love.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We're Featured!

Conner's birth story has been featured on Birth Stories On Demand! I am honored to share our experience with their readers :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making Memories

As a Military family, we lose control over being together during milestone moments in Conner's life sometimes. While we've been lucky thus far in Derek being home for Conner's first smile, first Thanksgiving and Christmas, rolling over...and hopefully soon-to-be crawling (he's so close!), we've lost out on Derek being there for checkups, Conner's first Easter and more. It's the nature of the Army beast. You learn to cherish the moments when your family can be together to experience milestones together.

Making memories, to us, is probably a more planned out and more exciting thing to us than it would be to most, because of the fact that we don't always know when we'll have the chance to do it again. Deployments and training often take my husband away, yet Conner isn't slowing down or putting a halt on growing and learning just because Daddy isn't home. And so we're taking careful steps to plan some memories in the making, while we've got the opportunity. It may not always be ideal or how we pictured doing things, but it's our chance to do them regardless of when or exactly how...and so we jump at the opportunity.

In a few weeks, Conner is going to get his first hair cut. This is one of those memories that we have the ability to control. Daddy is around and his best friend's mom happens to be a hair dresser. And so Conner will have his baby locks cleaned up, and Daddy will have the chance to sit his little boy on his lap and experience Conner's first hair cut with him. It's a small memory, and maybe insignificant to some of you...but it's one that we will appreciate always...and one that will always be a memory we got to enjoy as a whole family.

We're also going to get the chance to take Conner down the shore. This memory is particularly important to me because as kids, Derek and I grew up going down to the Jersey shore on family vacations. Before I go on, no. Not that "Jersey Shore". The REAL Jersey shore where blow-outs are rare and a "Situation" is deciding whether you want the Ninja Turtle popsicle or a snow cone from the ice cream guy who rings his bell on the beach. The shore is a place of fond memories for us both, and having the opportunity to take our son to the beach for the first time, let his little feet touch the warm sand, and stick his piggies in the cool Atlantic water (pronounced "wooder" for those who can appreciate it). It's a chance to let him have a taste of Kohr Brothers ice cream off of our fingers, and a chance to walk the boardwalk with the cool ocean air and the smell of funnel cake enveloping us. It's a memory that I am so excited to make with my son. And another one that Daddy will be able to make with us. And that is just wonderful.

I hope that as you read this you reflect on the memories you've made with your own families. And I hope that you also think to stop and appreciate the ones you are going to make...especially when you get to do it with your family...all together.

Much love.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Purple Dress, A Moment of Mortification, and A Little Motivation

It was like a slow motion scene in a movie as the words came out of her mouth, "so Conner is 6 months old, and little brother or sister is due when?". Fighting back tears and the urge to swear like a sailor at the lady-priest speaking to me, I kindly smiled and informed her that I am not pregnant, thank you for having us in her church for a baptism, and have a nice day.

I've never walked so quickly in heels and a dress just to get back to the car. I felt mortified. I felt like if she hadn't been a priest and we hadn't been in church, I may have decked her. I felt like I wanted to crawl under a rock, cry my eyes out, and hide forever.

It's the question no non-pregnant woman ever wants to be asked.

Funnily enough, I had gotten ready that morning and been ecstatic that the dress I was wearing was one that I had originally purchased for our honeymoon. It's this sweet little purple cotton dress with a pretty ruffle neckline. I had thought it was flattering...and my husband had even complimented how nice it had looked. Besides feeling nice in it, I was beaming with the knowledge that I had made a post-baby body accomplishment in fitting into this dress. Paired with my new favorite pair of wedges, I thought I was good to go....

And then out came her well-meaning, but heart stabbing words and I so badly wanted to trash that damn dress and put on some sweatpants.

It's such killjoy when you're making progress in losing baby weight, adjusting to the fact that your body will never ever be the same as it was pre-baby, and finally starting to enjoy getting dressed in the morning. And while my husband, sweet man that he is, insisted that I looked wonderful in my dress and that I was beautiful to him always, I was still hurt and mortified by the fact that this woman assumed I was pregnant. It was right up there with the "you look huge!!" comments while I was pregnant. It's just not nice.

I reminded myself that the lady priest was probably equally embarrassed when I informed her I was not, in fact, currently expecting. She was well meaning, certainly...tactful, maybe not...but such is life I suppose. I still hear her words in my head, and I'm still reminded of her assumption made me feel. But instead of taking it and feeling sorry for myself, I'm working with it. Using it as motivation to continue working hard towards my goal of looking and feeling healthier than I did even pre-Conner, I'm finding myself determined to never let something like that get me down.

And I'm not throwing away that purple dress. I still like it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rocks My Socks: Babywearing

One of my favorite things, since becoming a mom, is babywearing. Falling into one of the practices in Attachment Parenting (and just awesomeness in general), it rocks my socks...and I've got a few great friends who I know will totally agree.

It takes some practice and patience, like anything else...but getting the hang of properly and safely wearing Conner in my custom ring sling and mei tai (I got mine from Mel's Colorful Creations on Etsy.com) and in the Moby wrap was one of the best things I took the time to do. The handsfree aspect alone is incredibly helpful...cleaning, cooking dinner, food shopping...it all became so easy to do when I began wearing Conner, especially when he was a newborn because he always seemed to wake and wail whenever I wanted to get something done around the house. So I would pop him in the ring sling...and later the mei tai...and sure enough he'd cuddle, stare at his momma, and snooze while I washed the ever-growing piles of laundry that seem to make themselves at home when you've got a newborn...

Babywearing is fun too...seriously! Yesterday my fellow babywearer (and my go-to show-me-how momma) buddy taught me how to wrap Conner in a back carry. I LOVED IT! My little guy got to peer over my shoulder and I had this little person hanging out on my back...it was amazeballs. And when he got tired of it (new positions can take the babe a little bit to adjust to...but stick with it! I know in a few more tries C Man will love the back carry too) I just swapped him around and we food-shopped the rest of the way snuggled chest-to-chest :)

There's also the added bonus of this: custom carriers can be SUPER cute! As evidenced by mine...


Babywearing also had emotional benefits for me personally. After having had the emergency c-section, Conner being in the NICU and us spending his first few hours of life separated, I felt like I had missed out on bonding time that I had so desperately wanted immediately. So when I figured out how to wear the ring sling properly, I wore him constantly...and found it beyond healing. Having my baby close to me all the time, sleeping, staring at eachother, him hearing my heartbeat as he rested his little head on my chest....it all made me feel soothed and helped me get over the disappointment of not being able to be with him right away. Babywearing is simply wonderful...and it's so good for the soul. 

Wearing your babe has TONS of other benefits! So I'm sharing some great resources in the hopes that some of you who may not be so into now, at least give it a try...
BUT please remember to do it safely! There are tons of tutorials online on how to properly wear all different carriers, and there are resources to teach you the basics of safe positioning of your babe and rules of thumb for all carriers

My rule to live by, amongst many others with babywearing....Close enough to kiss!

Enjoy!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grateful Grilled Cheese

Every day I make it a point to reflect on a favorite memory, and remind myself of one part of that memory for which I am grateful. It's part of my own way of keeping myself in the mindset of appreciating the life that I live to the fullest.

Yesterday I was reflecting back on my experience in the hospital when I had Conner. I reflected back on the wonderful nurses, my amazing husband, and the friends who visited. One particular friend stood out in my mind as I reflected...My friend Steph. The day after I had Conner, Steph texted me informing me that she was bringing me dinner...no if, ands or buts about it. For this I was immediately grateful...hospital food is terrible, but pair it with being an Army hospital and you're eating powdered eggs and soggy toast to the max. But what I was especially grateful for was the fact that Steph was bringing Derek and I Panera food, and I got to request what I wanted to eat...

a grilled cheese, of all things.

While I was in labor, I kept thinking about the grilled cheese I wanted to eat after I gave birth. I didn't care where it came from, what kind of cheese or bread it was on....I just wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and a pickle.

Unfortunately, after you have a c-section, you can't eat much. The anesthesia and overall "after-surgery-ness" can make your stomach verrrrryyyy sensitive, so for several hours I was chowing down on ice chips and saltine crackers. My sweet husband even brought me an icee after I came out of recovery, as I had been craving them the last two weeks of my pregnancy...but alas, the sugar in one sip didn't sit well with my still sensitive tummy.

When I could eat something, the kitchen at the hospital was closed until breakfast...and they didn't have grilled cheeses on the menu for any meal. Period.

Lame!

So when Steph informed me that the grilled cheese I was so desiring was on it's way, along with yummy soups, chips AND the pickle I really wanted too, I was beyond grateful! When I opened the package to see a gooey sandwich and a green pickle waiting for me, I can't lie...it was pretty exciting.

It's funny to look back on memories sometimes and see what you come up with as things that make you appreciate life. For me, the memory of that grilled cheese and the kindness of my friend is a great reminder of how lucky I am to have the caring, loving friends that I do....who understand the importance of a grilled cheese sandwich after you've just given birth :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Milestones

It seems as though my sweet baby boy is racing through time and hitting all of these new milestones that are just so amazing. At 5 months old, he rolls over, smiles, giggles, babbles, plays, grabs everything within his reach....and now he even sits up on his own.

To the average person it's all probably not that incredible. But as mommy, I'm finding these little milestones bring joy and so much excitement to my life every day.

It's such a privledge, getting to watch such an amazing little person grow, learn and thrive every day. What a great reminder of how amazing life truly is, and what a great way to appreciate that fact!

It's hard to believe how quickly he's growing, it seems the time is just flying by already. But I am so enjoying it all :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Short and Sweet: Thank you, dear lady

Just one week after I posted about the "just wait" mumbo jumbo that people love to share with new moms, I found myself once again waiting in line (this time at Michael's :) ) wearing Conner on my front, being accosted by a father and his adult daughter...both of whom started the "just you wait til he gets bigger" schpeal.

And then all of the sudden the woman in front of me turns around and says "Just wait for nothing. Enjoy him now and always. Children are wonderful at any age".

It was all I could do but smile and think about the wonderful, pleasant, positive people she must have raised, looking at them as being wonderful even as they grew out of babyhood and into every stage of life thereafter.

Thank you, dear lady. Your statement made my day :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Wait For What?

As I was walking around Target today, I was stopped by the usual gazers oogling over Conner (I know he's cute...and apparently everyone agrees with me :) )...grandmas who love to coo at him and get a smile back, mom's with babes around the same age (who I love conversing with) and the parents of older children who stop to see the little baby and reminisce.

But today I found myself in a strikingly interesting position. I've heard more than once a parent say to me "just wait until he's older!" or "you wait until he's this age" as they're pointing to their own child. As I'm walking through the aisles I'm stopped by a mother with a boy of about six in her cart. She starts the usual "oh how cute" routine....but then it turns to "you wait, they're not so cute and precious anymore when they hit this age!" as she pointed to her own son. It immediately sent me remembering a post I had read on another blog, titled Joy or Just Wait. Similarly this blogger had been in Target and witnessed another new parent being given the "just wait" speech and was quite bothered by it.

I found myself feeling irked as well. As I walked away from this woman who apparently thought her comment was in good humor, I felt bad for the little boy in her cart. This mom had blatantly put down her son, in front of a stranger no less. What could that possibly do for his self esteem? And how many times has this little boy been out with his mother and heard her say the same thing to other parents with little babies?

And then I felt bad for the mother. It saddened me to think that she found humor in telling a new parent that as their child gets older, she won't find him to be as cute or precious. Her comment made me want to shake her and wake her up. Sitting in her cart was a gorgeous little boy, with a smile on his face, who was developing into the person she's helping to mold. How was he not cute and precious anymore? Sure, sometimes his actions may not be, but he is a child after all...

Perhaps I took the comment too seriously, perhaps there is some kind of humor deep down in there. But I can't find it, and I didn't think her statement was funny. I did, however, find her statement to be a reminder to enjoy every moment with my son, and to appreciate the ups and downs of parenting....well past babyhood. It was also a nice reminder of what I don't want to do to my own children: embarrass them, whether they realize it or not. I want to set a positive example for my son, starting with the way I speak of him. I think that rather than telling parents negative things about your children, a more positive, effective thing to do is to embrace your child, no matter the age, and show the stranger with the sweet little baby that children are cute at any age...and parenting, while sometimes a challenge, is wonderful, positive and beautiful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Admittance

I've been dreading this post for a few weeks now. I've been denying the fact that it happened, I've been wallowing in my own disappointment and a bit of embarrassment, not wanting to admit it.

I can't breastfeed anymore. My milk supply, despite efforts of diet change, supplement taking and even one-on-one help from lactation consultants a-go go, diminished.

It's a heartbreaking fact for me. Having wanted to stick it out for 6-12 months, at the least, it's a disappointing occurrence. And I hate to admit it, because it makes me feel and sound like a failure. The LCs speculate that it was a combination of Conner having a very difficult time latching without an aid because of his high arch, and the fact that I had been given the "mini pill" which, while doesn't usually affect milk supply, certainly can...and apparently did with me.

I hate that I can't spend those moments bonding with my son in a way that, truly, can only be done mother and baby-style. And I feel guilty that I can't provide for him in that way anymore. Yet another lesson learned in this school of mommyhood....but at sad and disappointing one at that.

I'm still a huge promoter of breastfeeding, if you can though. It's the healthiest, most natural thing you can do for your child and it's wonderful. I still encourage all new mommas out there to nurse as long as you can, and to truly embrace and enjoy it. It's so very special.

I hope that no one reads this and looks at me as a disappointment. I hope that you understand it took quite a bit of courage for me to write this post, admitting that my body failed me, and in turn failed my son. I hope that you can read this and understand that I am proud of the almost 4 months of exclusive nursing I was able to do with Conner. And I hope this post is a reminder to cherish the things that mean some thing special to you and your baby.

And remember that breastfeeding is wonderful no matter how long you do it for!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Why Midwives Rock My Socks

I'm always reflecting back on Conner's birth. It's something I look back on every day, no longer to grieve over my disappointment in having an emergency c-section, but to remind myself of how blessed I am to have a healthy little boy, have had a speedy recovery, and the memory of a care team who will hold a special place in my heart forever.

I always say, for the situation I was in, I couldn't have had a better, more positive experience. And I chalk quite a bit of that up to the fact that the people who cared for myself and my son did just that: they cared.

The person who always sticks out in my mind though was the midwife who assisted the doctors to care for me. On our base, a woman may choose to be seen by a doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner throughout her pregnancy. I chose to see nurse practitioners for mine, and was taken care of primarily by nurses with advisement by doctors while I was in labor. The only time I really ever saw a doctor was when the decision was made that Conner was in too much distress and needed to be born. And that was completely my choice, to have minimal interaction with the doctor. See, I have a thing with doctors...I'm not a fan of them. I've always felt that nurses are way more gentle and compassionate.

And while my nurses were absolutely wonderful, I still reflect back the warmest on the midwife who joined my team.

The hospital where Conner was born is very big on natural birth, and they try to avoid c-sections at all costs. As my labor progressed and my infection got worse, a midwife was brought in to see if she could help naturally progress my dialation so that I could push Conner out quickly and safely. Though my body didn't cooperate, I was beyond grateful for her efforts. She understood that pushing my son out was important to me, it sincerely meant something to me. When I was told that a c-section was now becoming necessary, and when I broke down in tears exclaiming how much of a failure I felt like, she hugged me. While they wheeled me down to the operating room, leaving Derek to wait until I was prepped before he could come in, she held my hand. While they prepped me, she sat by my head and stroked my hair. She told me everything that was happening during my surgery. She told Derek when to stand so that he could see Conner come out, and she made sure he got to cut his cord. And when Derek left the OR to go with Conner to the NICU, she resumed her place at my head, gave me a kiss on the cheek, stroked my hair again during the uncomfortable process of being put back together.

That midwife was the sweetest, gentlest, most compassionate woman who cared for me while I was in labor. Though she will see hundreds of other women in the hospital and probably won't remember me, I will never, ever forget her.

Her gentle being, her kindness, her willingness to care has left an enormous impression on me. And she is the very reason I am going to certainly put my care in the hands of the midwife team throughout my next pregnancy.

Midwives rock :)

Video Sunday: Baby Giggles

video

Friday, March 2, 2012

Short and Sweet: It Never Gets Old

I'm the mom that snuggles my son to sleep. We cuddle, I rock him and rub his back, and he lays his head on my shoulder and sucks his little thumb as he drifts off for a nap. I always hold him a few extra minutes after he's fallen asleep, and I always hug him tight before I lay him down. And I never lay him down without a kiss on his little forehead.

That moment every day never gets old. And it's a wonderful reminder to cherish life's little things.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A New Pair of Jeans and a Little Perspective

Ahhh. Back to blogging.
I apologize to all of you for my absence from writing. I've been taking some time to really allow myself to adjust to being superwoman, and it's finally all settling, sinking and kicking in.

Since Conner was born, I felt like my life was essentially turned upside down. I was making it through the day, but not in any sort of routine with any rhyme or reason. I've pretty much felt like I was living my life, but not exactly fully present. Being a mom totally throws you through a major loop!

Recently though, things have begun to click. I'm blaming this partially (or mostly) on my amazing friends who've filled in the gaping hole that is the lack of family I've got, being 3,000 miles from family. My friends have been the glue to hold me together (besides my husband of course...but sometimes you really, really need good girl friends). They've been the ones to help me get my groove back, and for that I am grateful.

Part of my out of whackiness has been body-related. Having Conner totally killed any self esteem I had about my body. With ruthless stretchmarks and things just not...hanging, if you will...like they used to, it's taken a lot to get used to my new body. But lately, I've found my niche. My key to better self esteem. My pick me up, my jump start, my "hey, this feels better". ZUMBA. Seriously. I love it. And it helps that I get to go to classes with some of my best friends who are encouraging and wonderful.

I've only been at it for about 2 weeks now, but I can already see and feel a difference in myself and it's awesome. Better yet, I'm finally out of the maternity jeans! Over the weekend I purchased 2 pairs of pre-pregnancy sized jeans...and they're even a little big! What a great feeling...what new perspective. Finding my niche is helping me feel great...and apparently look better.

So to those who can relate, I encourage you to do this: try eveything until you love something. There is a niche out there for everyone, and it can make you feel great!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Single Mom...With a Husband

...Who's my baby daddy.

Yep, that's me. Ah, the life of a Military wife.

Ask any Military wife/mommy and she'll tell you the same story: the Military essentially makes us single moms, who are married...to the father of their children. It's an interesting predicament to be in, and one that makes you appreciate the time when your husband is home even more so than before.

Conner and I are experimenting with this concept (well, less experimenting than being thrown into it on short notice) currently. And while it's only a few days, it's a lot more work than anticipated...but it's good preparation for things like deployments.

It's easy to take advantage of the fact that when my husband comes home from work, I catch a break. I am, usually, relieved of diaper changes...I can cook dinner without wearing a squirmy little dude...I can sit and do a crossword puzzle...I can just take a few minutes for myself. I've found that these moments are easy to forget to appreciate...until you're on your own.

While Conner has been a great baby always and particularly good while Daddy's been away these past few days, he is still a lot of work. When Derek isn't here, there is no diaper duty break, there is no "can you burp him so I can check my E-mail" or "can you cuddle him to sleep so I can take a shower". There's a lot of "waaaaahhhhh feed me! I don't care if you have to pee!" and "somebody burp me or I'm going to explode!" instead.

The upside to all of it though is appreciating the moments with my son. While the house is quieter and not the same without Daddy walking through the door at the end of the day, it's still filled the coos and squeals from my little boy, and more of my time spent smiling at the sweet things he does rather than worrying about what I'm cooking for dinner. And in some ways I've found that Conner helps the time when Derek is away go faster. No longer am I alone in our apartment. I'm now here with someone who somewhat fills the void of hugs and kisses that are missed when my husband away. And C Man certainly keeps me busy! So no longer am I thinking of ways to keep myself occupied to pass the time. It's a nice new chapter in our Military life.

So yes, if you ask me to classify myself I'd tell you: I'm a single mom...who happens to be married to my baby daddy. And then I'd tell you to laugh because it's funny :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Options and Statistics

Even though Conner is only 2 months old now, I've already started making myself educated about future labors. Coming off of an emergency C-section, I want to make sure that I am well rehearsed in how things can go in future pregnancies and birthings. I'm finding that it's an empowering thing, to recognize that I want to be prepared and knowledgeable, and that it's helping me get over the fact that Conner's birth was less than my dream experience.

In the United States, approximated 34% of women deliver their babies via C-section, though that number is from 2009 and may be higher at this point. While a C-section may be preferred by some women, for me personally it isn't a route I wanted to take, nor one that I wish to take again if I can avoid it. I don't want to deal with that recovery again, or the difficulty I had taking care of my son for the first few days after he was born, or even the restrictions on basic things like driving or carrying grocery bags. I especially don't want to experience the devastating feelings of failure and disappointment again. I don't really want to put my body or my mind through that all over again if I don't have to.

Luckily for me, the hospital on our base is pretty amazing. They're huge promoters of breastfeeding, complete with free-of-charge lactation consultants, helpful classes both pre and post natal, and even weekly E-mails with facts and helpful tips. In addition, they're also advocates of VBACs: vaginal birth after cesarean. This is pretty exciting to me.

In previous years, VBACs were not recommended and frowned upon in the medical community. And while, as of 2010, the U.S. boasted a 90% repeat Cesarean rate, VBACs are now considered safe. In fact, successful VBACs are considered to have lower complication rates than repeat C-sections in most cases. And while things happen and there are always risks, women have the option.

Just the thought that I will have the opportunity to deliver my next child the way I want to is incredibly meaningful to me. And I understand that I am lucky to be a patient in a medical system which encourages women to try a VBAC, as nationally about 57% of women wanting a VBAC have a difficult time finding a supportive provider (perhaps this is where the 90% repeat C-section rate comes from? hmmm). I'm also finding that, for myself, being educated about my options makes me feel safe. Should we ever move before having another child, I feel secure in having information about VBACs and knowing that I don't have to settle with a provider who isn't willing to support my decision to try.

I've come to the understanding that my next pregnancy will be considered "high-risk" because of the infection I had during labor, and the fact that the cause of it is still unknown. I've come to the understanding that my next labor may not go the way I want it to because of the potential for complications again. But I've also come to the understanding that I should be educated, I should continue to be involved in the decisions made about my children and my body and that I should not feel bad or guilty about Conner's birth any more. I've come to the understanding that I have options, I have a voice and I'm lucky to have providers who are willing to hear it and support it.