Friday, March 12, 2021

Parenting Through a Year of COVID

 It's been a year. 

I feel like this whole post could be just that one sentence, for all of us. 

A year ago, everything felt so uncertain. It felt like each of our next steps were like walking on a lake of thin ice, unsure where we would fall through. The world felt like it was falling apart faster than we could keep up, as we struggled to cling on to our sense of normalcy. A year ago, a business trip I was supposed to go on to Orlando, FL was cancelled at the last minute and I found myself unexpectedly staying at home instead. My job was uncertain in terms of if we would all start working from home or not. All of the stores, restaurants, everything began closing. We became worried as a family with big words like Quarantine being tossed around whenever, when was this supposed to start? We went to the warehouse clubs and bought a lot of food in bulk in these fears that we might be home to cook for a long, long time. What if society literally collapsed and this was the end of the world? Would we have to survive on what we have in this house right now? How will we survive? These crazy thoughts raced through our minds as I'm sure they did among millions of others around the world. But, what we thought was certain at the time was what everyone was saying would be a mandatory 2 week quarantine. Thats it. Lets just all stay at home for 2 weeks and then the world will be fixed. And here we are, one year later. Still quarantining...mostly. 

But thats not what this blog is about. You all already know that part, we've all lived it. What's unique about COVID is that we all have it in common. All countries, all continents, all races, all ethnicities, celebrities, citizens, non-citizens, doesn't matter. We are all affected in some way, no one is immune. COVID has leveled the playing field. In some areas more so than others. 

This post however is about how COVID has shaped our past year in my household with regards to parenting. Let's take another flashback to about Fall 2019- My husband and I were ready to start trying for a second child. We weren't actively tracking or anything, just casually trying. I went on a women's conference in January and that inspired me to start taking better care of my body after. I joined BeachBody in February 2020 and began losing weight. March 2020 rolls around, and now we're home more than we were before, I had more time to exercise and well, more time to try for a baby. We get a lot of jokes that this baby was a "Quarantinee baby" and maybe he is, but we also were actually trying to get pregnant prior. In fact, we decided together that if this cycle weren't successful that we would take a break because of how uncertain the world was, our financials, etc. But, come May 8th exactly, we found out that we had conceived around March 24th. Baby #2! 

However COVID had some serious plans on how this pregnancy was going to go, which was A LOT different from my first pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant in May, there was not a single cell in my body that thought the pandemic would still be going on when I was due with the baby in January 2021. I didn't even think it was going to last into the SUMMER. But we took it one day at a time, with the rest of the world. And days became weeks, weeks became months. I began to realize as I entered into my second and third trimesters spent in quarantine, that literally none of my coworkers-not one- had even seen me pregnant. Only 3 friends had seen me pregnant, and very very few family members. Compared to my first pregnancy where coworkers would oodle over how big I was getting, family would want to feel baby kick, etc- this felt so much different. It barely even felt real. As I approached the end of my pregnancy in December 2020, I couldn't believe that I had basically had an entire pregnancy in quarantine. What did this mean for my delivery? I had previously felt sympathy for my friends who had delivered Spring- Summer 2020 delivering in COVID, and now here we were too. I couldn't believe it. 

The delivery was a lot different- I was only allowed to have my husband in the room the entire time, and he wasn't allowed to leave, even for food or to go to the car. We had to call security even to make an exception because our basement had a flood on Christmas Eve night and husband had to leave and come back to take us home Christmas Day. Crazy!! I also never thought I would be able to deliver a baby while wearing a mask- in fact I was dreading it- but when it came time to push, I barely even remember having the mask on. That was literally the least of my concerns! 

I'd say post partum has been one of the biggest differences in the 2 pregnancies thanks to COVID. With my first, friends and family were allowed to visit the hospital, and lots of friends and family came to visit us at home too once Abby was home. This time, only his grandparents and uncle had met him for pretty much his entire first two months of life. We don't know how much longer this will last, not being able to see family-- and part of me fears that no one will get to know my son until he's able to walk into the next family party. Everyone will miss these baby days and that is so sad. I try and compensate by taking lots of pictures and videos for my family to watch. 

 It also is so crazy that the last family gatherings we really had were for Christmas 2019. That means that my daughter Abby was *barely* even walking, and only saying a FEW words. Now she's practically a little adult and having full conversations! It is sad to me that our closest family and friends haven't been able to see her go through those exciting stages. It is sad that at the next family party one day, she will likely be shy in front of everyone because she won't remember them. I worry too how much COVID has changed who my daughter will become one day, and what she must think of the world, and how this has changed her permanently. In a world without COVID, she would have at least met other children at mommy & me classes, storytime sessions at the mall & library, music classes, etc., but for the past year, like so many other children, she's pretty much been raised with just my husband and I and her grandparents...and TV. In the time where it is so important to start socializing is when we were forced to completely stop. Now we are just starting to kind of come out of quarantine and she is very shy. We are doing a toddler gymnastics class and take her to the park on nice days, and when other children try and talk to her she kind of just stares at them or walks away. The only saving grace here is that most other kids her age will have been in the exact same boat. But what does that mean for her narrow generation of these kids from age 0-5 right now that are missing out on that core social development? How will that shape who they become in their personalities? Will they grow up thinking virtual school is normal? That talking to family on screens is normal? That its normal to stay in our house all the time? That its completely normal to wear masks? I often wonder when it is time to take our masks off, will our young children that have grown accustomed to it suddenly feel naked? Vulnerable? 

If you had told me last year in March that this was going to last until March 2021, I would never have believed you. And yet now who knows how much longer we have ahead of us even. Another year? Two? Three? I never thought our world could be so crippled by a virus, and I even come from healthcare. If you had described all this to me prior to last March, I woulda said you have a good idea for a plot to a movie. It's crazy how a lot of us mourn "the last fun thing" we did before we unexpectedly had to quarantine. Brian and I had a fun date night for Valentines 2020 before the shutdown. We also got to go to Florida in January 2020 and are so incredibly lucky and happy we did- despite not really having the finances for it- it was well worth it because that was our last vacation for a long, long time. It also feels so weird to me now to have a memory of being in an arena with thousands of other women. Anyone else think its weird seeing groups of people together in old TV shows or movies, commercials? 

COVID has also changed our resilience as parents, in good and bad ways... In good ways, its made us stronger in terms of staying home with our kids more, learning more about our kids, overcoming new challenges and learning from them, but also in bad ways. By that I mean that when the world returns to normal, frankly, we're going to be exhausted. Right now, after laying low and quarantining for a year, the thought of having jam packed weekends of birthdays, family parties, friends, and a week full of going to the office, restaurants, activities....sounds exhausting. Especially this time around with two children. When we had Abby we didn't know any different. Of course we were going to do all those things and bring her with us, thats what you do as people in this society. But frankly, with a newborn, its been kind of nice just staying home with him. Not having that pressure to go out and join the world is really been nice, as much as it is lonely. It's definitely a two-edged sword. 

Who knows what is in store for us as a family and for the world in the near future. After the year we all had in 2020, I think we've all become resistant to crazy and we are all just rolling with the punches. What life brings it will bring. If this last another year then so be it. 

I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. I can't wait to start seeing you all again soon. 


The New Motherboard. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Hard Stuff No One Talks About: Swimming in the Deep End

 I cried all the way to Target today. For absolutely no reason at all, and yet for ALL the reasons. Not even the Target by my own house. I went to the furthest Target in the area on purpose to get that extra, much needed crying time. 

I never thought it would happen to me. Postpartum depression sounds like a label. It seems like such heavy words, a weight to carry if you are labeled with it. Like you’re just a number. I never had it with my first born so I incorrectly assumed “It couldn’t happen to me”. I used to think, can’t people with postpartum depression just do something to make them happier? Like a hobby of theirs, or go on a walk, or talk to someone? I am a nurse and I know all the signs, the symptoms, I know what resources are out there to help people with PPD—and yet, when it happened to me, suddenly I felt at the bottom of a dark well and I left all my “resources and knowledge” about it up at the top. Suddenly It was just me. I am aware of my own self enough to realize that it truly did feel like a shift in my brain, like it wasn’t my normal self operating it. Like a malware virus had been installed and was running the operating system. That’s why I couldn’t just “go do one of my hobbies, take a walk, or do something fun”, because it felt like I didn’t even like those things anymore. I was lying dormant underneath this virus in my brain. And it didn’t make any sense. And it’s going to be hard to explain.

Most of my blogs I try and come on here with humor and make light of the craziness that is raising kids. But its not all light. And I want to normalize these darker parts because none of us talk about it. Whether its postpartum depression, or depression, seasonal affective disorder, or just feeling down in the dumps thanks to COVID, we all do our best to put on our “I’m fine” face and our friends and family sometimes are none the wiser. If something happened right now where each and everyone of us suddenly felt depressed, would we even know that it happened to all of us? Or would each one of us feel isolated and alone because we aren’t reaching out to others to find out none of us are alone?

Let me start by saying I have not officially been diagnosed with anything. I am not on any specific treatment although I will talk below about what has helped me. I don’t know if it is ‘postpartum depression’, or if it is “just” the baby blues. Or lets mix in the fact that we are 10 months into a global pandemic and have all been cooped up in our houses. As a new mom in COVID this really puts a damper on the help that we are allowed to reach out to and accept, whether resources being closed or changed, or the fact we are afraid to let friends in and expose each other to COVID. Let’s ALSO mix in the fact that having a baby in the middle of winter feels a LOT different than having my first born August baby. In August we could go out walking to get out of the house, sit outside, get fresh air, etc. That mixed with seasonal affective disorder is a recipe for anyone to be feeling in the dumps right now. I am also getting very little sleep which highly contributes to these feelings. And it is a lot different this time caring for a toddler AND the newborn- as I can’t just sleep when the baby sleeps because I need to be on 100% of the time to care for my toddler. And it wasn’t like this from Day 1 either. In fact I was doing really well- it felt like I was doing too well- I recovered much faster physically, I wanted to “do all the things” around the house, I felt ready to jump back into learning new things and skills… but literally it was one day- one day- I woke up and felt so different. Like I stated above, it like I wasn’t myself. I could barely talk to my toddler as I got her ready for the day. I could only mutter small one word answers to her innocent questions. All day I felt like I was behind a foggy glass cage and couldn’t see out. I tried watching my favorite tv shows but felt like I was falling further. I literally spent $20 to get my favorite lunch delivered to my house in hopes of cheering me up, and I only ate half of it. I just wanted to cry profusely for no absolute reason at all. So regardless what I am actually suffering from or feeling, it doesn’t negate the fact that these feelings are real and we are not alone. I know I am not alone.

This will likely be my most vulnerable posts I will ever write. I struggled with deciding whether or not to write this. By admitting it, it felt like a weakness, like somehow I was admitting I was not a good mother. That I don’t have it all together. By admitting defeat it felt like to me, was it a mistake having two kids? If I can’t handle the heat why did I step in the fire? Will my friends and family that read this suddenly think different of me? Will they think I am weak? Will they treat me different? But even at the bottom of the dark well, I know enough that those thoughts are the ones controlled by this malware virus. It is an imbalance of hormones, it is not US. But If I can help put down in words what its like to have this imbalance of hormones in the brain, If I can help make even just ONE other mom out there feel less alone, to see that someone else knows exactly what they’re going through, then it is all worth it to me.

My brain makes sense of analogies. It always has. So that’s kind of the way I think and how I can best explain how this feels. The first analogy that seems to make sense of this to me is to picture a big, underground pool. One of those where there are a nice set of steps, then a nice shallow end, and about 6 feet in your feet can feel where it starts to slope downward and then there is a portion where you can kind of stand but it’s a lot more effort. Then there is the full deep-end that requires constant full swimming. Can you picture it? Okay.

Let’s say for the purposes of this analogy, its not good to be in the pool at all. The best place to be here is outside the pool, lounging on a nice chair in the sun with a good book. But if you are in the pool, the best place to be is the shallow end- where there is chaos, splashing, but you can stand. You are grounded. You have all the right coping skills. The stairs are right there for you in case you are tired of the water and want to lounge outside the pool a bit. But you start to feel yourself inching towards that downward slope. You think you’ll be fine. You can swim, after all, right? Its not a big deal. I’m fine, we’re fine. Everything’s fine. You don’t want to sound the alarm just yet. You fear that if you start asking for help now people will think, “but did you even try to swim?” or, “If you can’t swim why did you get in the pool?” or “buckle up buttercup, welcome to parenting”. So you want to test the limits, you want to try and swim to see how strong you are without asking for help. You want to show everyone your Olympic swimming skills and that you’ve got it all under control. But once you’re in that in between area- that space where you can barely touch your toes to the pool liner and you have to kind of uncomfortably tread water to stay afloat- that isn’t fine. Its fine for awhile, maybe. But when you feel like you’ve been in that space for awhile and don’t see any end in sight, that my friend is the ticket to the deepest end of the pool. So you start looking for the lifeguards for help. After birth the “lifeguards” were all over you asking if you needed help and were screening you for “your ability to swim”, but now- one month in the pool, the lifeguards all seem to be on their lunch break. Sure, you could holler them over to come save you, but you aren’t sure if that is necessary. I mean, you aren’t actually drowning, right? You’re just struggling. You’re afraid of causing unnecessary concern, or causing a scene in the pool. You are afraid the lifeguards will turn you away and say “you’re fine, we’re  busy saving people that are actually drowning.” So, you keep swimming. And you see your friends and family on lounge chairs outside the water also. Occasionally one throws you a pool noodle for you to float on which feels good but you know its only temporary. What you really want is to ask those friends and family to help get you out of the pool, but with them too- you fear that they will either not be able to help or wont want to. You envision excuses of why you shouldn’t ask them, like, “she’s too busy with her new business to help”, or “she’s got a lot going on at work right now”, or “I don’t want to burden her with my problems”, or “she’s never even been in the pool, she won’t understand”, or “we only know each other online, it would be weird to pour all my feelings out to her”, or “I don’t want her to feel sorry for me”, or “am I close enough to this person to tell all this too?” or “she had her kids many years ago, will she remember what this time was like?” or worst of all, worrying if that friend/family will simply just throw you a life jacket full of “positive” thoughts like “well at least your baby is healthy”, “at least your toddler sleeps”, “but your baby is sooo cute”, or any other combination of “at least this, at least that”. You know they mean well, but you’re still in the damn pool, struggling to swim. And then there are the friends and family that you wonder, can’t you see me struggling here? But then you realize that they aren’t mind readers—and you haven’t asked them for help so how are they to know that you’re struggling to swim? It is like we just expect people to see us struggle and pull us out of the pool, but in reality that doesn’t happen until we either ask for help, or its too late and you’re in the deep end. I won’t even talk about the deep end because frankly I haven’t been there. I am still in that in-between space, struggling to swim but occasionally can reach the bottom of the pool, occasionally I get a pool float, and I see hope of returning to the shallow end- hopefully sometime soon.

The other analogy that feels right to me is standing in a pitch black room. You feel all alone but at the same time you KNOW there are other people in the room, you just don’t know who they are. You know that by simple law of probability, there’s gotta be some of your friends and family in the room with you but you don’t know which ones. So eventually you fight, you fight your way with every possible shred of hope and coping skill you have, and you light a match. And with that match you light a torch. And with that torch you carry you shine the light upon others and now you don’t feel as alone anymore. And neither do they. And together you light more torches and find more people. And now the room isn’t dark anymore and you all can see that none of you have been alone this entire time, just in the dark. That’s how I feel- that if 1 in 10 moms suffer like this, that we are all in the dark room and if we just lit our torches and looked around, chances are we would find unexpected friends and family there that are right there with us and we can help each other, even if its just the simple fact of knowing we are in this together, even if we don’t have the answers.

So what is this pool, exactly? I use it as an analogy, but for what? Well, I think its different for all of us. Perhaps we are each in our own little pools, in a vast sea of pools side by side, full of different water droplets that make up each of our own pools. Maybe that’s why its so easy to feel so alone and isolated because we are each in our own pool despite all being in A pool. Does that make sense? I’m exhausted, so I don’t know lol.

But, if I can try and define some of my water droplets that make up my pool, it’s:

-        Being so exhausted to a whole level that you didn’t even know possible. Right now Ryland is up every 3 hours overnight to feed and that means I get about 2 hour intervals of sleep. Then when I wake up I am up with toddler all day so I maybe get a half hour nap all day (sometimes more if my husband is able to help), until a bedtime of about 11-12 pm. Sometimes it takes me literally more than 20 seconds to figure out what MONTH we are in. Or if I already put sweetener in my coffee. I hate that feeling of pure exhaustion where you think if given the chance, you could sleep standing up.

-        Being so exhausted BUT when given the chance to nap, you cant sleep.

-        Being so exhausted but you have to carefully time out when your caffeine intake is, and how much you can have, due to breastfeeding.

-        The guilt that you probably did give your baby too much caffeine through breast milk by accident.

-        The extreme mom guilt of letting your toddler watch movie after movie or youtube video because its all you have the strength to entertain her with.

-        The mom guilt of TRYING one activity a day with your toddler but this ends in tears, for both of you.

-        When you are trying your absolute hardest but someone else (often the people closest to us) make us feel less than and a terrible parent.

-        It’s knowing your husband is in the pool with you, but he’s also struggling and neither of you can help the other one out. The only thing you can each do is keep throwing each other the pool noodle so one can get relief at one time—but yet when its your turn to float on the pool noodle you are over consumed by guilt that you’re letting your husband struggle to swim while you float.

-        The uncontrollable snack eating, unclear to yourself if its breastfeeding replenishment or eating my feelings, or both.

-        ^Having to respell replenishment multiple times because you’re too tired to know how to spell replenishment. Thank you Microsoft Word.

-        When your toddler falls asleep but then the baby is inconsolable.

-        When the baby falls asleep but then the toddler wakes them up by accident.

-        When the baby falls asleep but then the dog wakes them up by barking for the millionth time that day.

-        When the dog eats your lunch that you walked away from for just a second.

-        When the dog eats the toddlers snack, and then eats the toddlers bowl, rendering another bowl unusable.

-        When the toddler won’t eat the lunch you made for her. Or breakfast. Or dinner.

W-        The mom guilt of just giving your toddler the same old things each meal because you don’t have the strength to fight her on begging her to eat what you made.

-        The mom guilt of knowing that it could be so much worse, in fact you know of other people that are in way worse situations than you right now, and so why do I feel like this? Why am I not strong enough?

-        When you feel like you literally just fell asleep and the baby is awake again.

WWhen you're trying your absolute hardest to keep it together, but your 2.5 year old says "What's the matter, mommy?" and it shatters your heart into a million little pieces. 

-        The mom guilt of LOVING breastfeeding, truly, but when your boob is “on tap” literally all the time, its hard not feel some resentment.

-        The repetition of it all. Change baby diaper. Get peed on. Again. Change outfit. Feed him. Feed toddler. Play with toddler. Change toddlers diaper. Repeat everything over and over.

-        Toddler constantly asking you to play, even though playing with legos (or whatever) is literally the LAST thing you want to do right now, and that makes you feel so guilty.

-        Its endless scrolling through social media and comparing yourself to all the other moms you know who seem to have it together and wonder why aren’t you doing as well as them.

-        Toddler asking you for a snack all.the.time. but doesn’t eat her meals (without a fight).

-        When your brain feels like mush, not just from the exhaustion but from the lack of learning any new material or participating in adult, intellectual conversations or activities instead of just rewatching the same Disney movies.

-        Rewatching Frozen, Frozen 2 and Tangled for the 184,281,104th time.

-        Feeling so helpless that your baby has bad gas pains and you feel like its your fault, and you don’t know how to help him.

There are a million other water droplets to make up the pool, but I will leave it at that. The point is, is that none of these individual things is what fills the pool. No, we can handle each one, if that were it. Even if there were a few, its manageable. Its when literally all of the above in that list happens in ONE day, and every day, is when it feels like you’re in that space of not being able to feel the bottom of the pool anymore. Everyone tells you these days will pass, and I know they will. I know that before I know It he will be a toddler and I’ll be missing these days and I will forget how hard it was. I know it will pass. I know its temporary. But when you’re in that headspace, sometimes it feels so hopeless and it feels like these days will go on and on and you will never get sleep again. I literally fantasize about the potentially glorious sleep I will hopefully one day get when these kids are both in college lol. Hopefully I get sleep before that…

So, what HAS helped me? Well, a lot. And that’s part of why I wanted to share all of this with you and open up, not just to show other moms that none of us are alone, but to try and share some resources that may help other moms too.

1.      This happy light has helped a lot. It doesn’t have to be this exact one, but there are multiple ones on the market. I used this during my pregnancy at my work desk and it made a HUGE difference in how tired I felt. But then postpartum, well I obviously wasn’t sitting at my work desk anymore, thus not sitting by my light. I don’t know all the science behind it, but it needs to be within 15 inches of your eyes, and it replenishes the fa├žade of sunlight, tricking your mind to be well, happy and less tired. Maybe its just a placebo, but who cares if it is, if I DO in fact feel less tired on days I can sit by it for at least an hour if not more. This is challenging when caring for a baby and a toddler, but is possible if you can baby wear and put a movie on for the toddler. Light Therapy Lamp, Miroco UV Free 10000 Lux Brightness, Timer Function, Touch Control, Standing Bracket, for Home/Office Use: Health & Personal Care

2.      Music. Music is the one thing for me that no matter how deep in the water I may feel, it’s the tiny thing that can come find me underwater and pull me back up to the surface. Its my pool noodle. It’s the thing that can make me cry, which is a good thing. We need to cry, its healthy to cry to get it all out and release that pent up sadness and anger. I have dedicated playlists on my music streaming service for my moods. I have one dedicated for those times I want to cry and really sit in my feelings. I have another for releasing some pent up anger and just want to scream. I have another that has really good dance music. Another that has inspiring/uplifting music. I highly encourage the use of music if that’s what works for you, and creating those playlists so you have a better chance of listening to exactly what you need in the right moment for you. And I highly suggest playing this music really, really loud in the car (without your babes) and just sing at the top of your lungs.

3.      Friends! FRIENDS! Yes. So despite all my talk above of feeling so alone, I have had many conversations with friends that feel like those pool noodles- those momentary times when I feel like I’m not struggling, or at least contently floating with a friend, because of a connection with a friend. Now, with COVID, I can’t SEE any of my friends, but I’ve noticed a different positive trend (maybe thanks to covid, maybe not) is that through social media and posting how mom life truly is, the humor, the good, the bad- its brought me together with friends- some that I haven’t even talked to since middle school- and yet they’re going through the same thing! And you end up talking for hours through social media! If you can find a friend that is going through a similar situation as you, it helps SO MUCH. Not just “being in the pool” but just a similar situation as yours. I have a friend that I went to all of grade school with and high school- we lost touch throughout college and our twenties but reconnected through social media because we both had a girl about the same age (5 weeks apart). We started talking and bouncing strategies and tips around with each other, helping each other through night time terrors, picky eating, potty training, or just being there for each other online to vent to. Now we both have baby boys , also close in age (about 10 weeks!) so we are going through a very similar situation. But having her is so invaluable knowing that she can emphasize with exactly what I’m going through and I can help her too. But not just her- I am lucky that I have a lot of friends online that also have young kids and have been able to receive and share sooo many tips with these other moms and have great conversations.

4.      MOM GROUPS. On facebook, there are so many mom groups its ridiculous. But they can be helpful. And harmful too, so just be wary. Try them, see if they help you but don’t be afraid to leave the group if it brings you any negativity, comparison, mom guilt or anything. But there are so many helpful ones, unique to what ails you. Struggling with pumping? There’s a group. Struggling with breastfeeding? There is a group for that. Struggling with postpartum depression? Not only did I find a national resource group for that, but also  LOCAL Pennsylvania one so I can potentially connect with moms struggling just like me, near me. I say that they can be harmful too, because I read these other moms stories and the extreme hardships they face (single parenting, lack of help, no money, hard jobs, little to no maternity leave, many children, abusive households, etc) and it makes me feel guilty again that I am struggling internally but feel like I shouldn’t be in comparison to how hard these other women have it.

5.      Instagram. No really- it has been a total game changer for me in some positive ways, despite the bad rep social media carries. IF you use it for good, its very helpful. I follow specific accounts that have helped me in so many ways. Here are some to share:

a.      @biglittlefeelings helps me navigate how I want to raise my toddler and handle tantrums and her feelings.

b.      @thebirdspapaya focuses a lot on body image and how we allllll have that mom pouch and she displays it proudly, and she’s still gorgeous. It makes it feel easier to love my own self and body too, seeing her bravery and authenticity. She also just had a newborn baby and I can connect with a lot of her content.

c.      @jadelizroper – yes, she’s from bachelor nation, and she’s an influencer so you gotta deal with some ads, but she also has 3 kids under 4 and I can therefore obviously connect with a lot of what she’s going through. She’s opened up a lot about depression as well.

d.      @momsbehavingbadly – this account just makes me laugh, that’s all. A lot.

e.      @karrie_locher GREAT resource for new moms. She is a labor & delivery nurse and shares so much great content for new moms.

f.       @drbeckyathome – another great resource spanning a lot of different topics for new moms, PPD, anxiety, raising kids, etc.

You gotta find accounts that work for you. Most importantly with social media, if you are scrolling and ANYTHING, I mean ANYTHINNNGGGGGGG-that makes you feel LESS THAN, or GUILTY, or ANYTHING negative, YOU HAVE THE POWER to UNFOLLOW that person, regardless if they are your flesh and blood or a person you don’t even know. Your social media, if you use it, should only be there to show you helpful content or things that make you feel good.

6.      Journaling. Journaling is sooo helpful. I often feel too tired to do so, but I do try and write about once a week. There are some things far too private to share on this blog, but I still need to get them off my chest, and journaling is the perfect way to do that. And it doesn’t have to be a scary commitment. Sometimes all you have to do is promise yourself you’ll try and write one paragraph about how your day was. Or write for ten minutes, that’s it. You’ll often find that you’re then on a roll and write a lot more.

7.      My last helpful tidbit is this website: Postpartum Support International - PSI . I found them actually through one of the accounts listed above in Instagram. What I liked is that I immediately saw that you can text them. This I liked because I have literally always hated talking on the phone. And remember my example with the lifeguards and the pool? Talking on the phone seems like I was asking a lifeguard for help even though I wasn’t drowning, and that just all felt too heavy and real. Plus I knew if I talked it out, I would probably just start bawling. But texting felt much more manageable. What happens is you reach out to them via text, and they connect you within a reasonable time frame to a volunteer in your area to just talk (text) things out with you. They offer suggestions to help, or just listen as you send paragraphs of venting to a total stranger. They also offered to set me up with a therapist in my area and also sent me links to some mom groups on facebook I mentioned above.


Well, I know this has been a ridiculously long blog. And if you’ve made it this far, wow. Kudos. I don’t even expect anyone to have read it all, but I do feel a weight lifted off of me by sharing it all. Hopefully some piece of it somewhere can help another mom or person, whether it be today, tomorrow or in 10 years. Or even my own children one day reading this. Who knows.

What I really, really want to leave you with- is if you are reading this, whether you are my family, or my friend, or even if you don’t even know me, if any of this content connects with you and makes you feel like you want to open up, I am here for you. I can be your pool noodle or life jacket, or I can help light your torch. We all can help light each others torch if we all just start talking and reaching out. And I know its so hard. But I am here and I will always listen. And I wont try and offer you positive vibes of “at least this, and at least that” but I will listen. I wont try and make it better but I will listen.


Thank you all. Thank you.

With love,

The New Motherboard.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Lessons Learned: Some Old, Some New

 Well, We have all survived as a family of 4 for 10 days! Boy has it been a journey! Not just week one of newborn life, but just for fun throw in a toddler, Christmas Day and New Years in the mix also, OH and a pandemic. And just for extra sprinkles on top, a crazy dog and 2 cats. 

Alas, we are all alive. Somehow our memories make us forget what the newborn days are like so that we procreate again, because we are both wondering "Was it this hard with our first??" And the answer is no and yes. It is different. Being the second child makes it easier because we know what to expect (mostly), but much harder juggling a toddler and a newborn this time around. But things do come back to you like riding a bike, like breastfeeding, diaper changes, newborn baths, etc. 

My toddler (2 years and 4 months) hasn't really warmed up to him yet. She does seem to care for him, and frequently wants to know his whereabouts, wants him to be in the same room, brings him toys, and now is into shouting "It's Okay! It's Okay!" when he is crying (it's the cutest). But she does not want to hold him, or touch him, or any type of contact yet. We are letting her do it when she is ready on her own terms. We are definitely seeing some behavior changes as well with her as she adjusts to this new transition and realizing she's no longer the center of attention. I am trying to do all the things, give her 1:1 time, tell her I love her, keep her routine as stable as possible, give her clear explanations for what I am doing with baby boy but not blaming him for why I cannot play with her. Hopefully she adjusts soon! We also struggle to adequately keep her entertained and busy, but due to the fact that we are all in what I call "basic survival mode" meaning making sure everyone is alive, fed and somewhat rested- entertainment is hard to muster up. So, big amounts of gratitude go to Disney +, as I can now proudly say I have memorized the scripts to not just Olaf's Frozen Adventure, Frozen, Frozen 2, but also now working on Once Upon a Snowman. Frozen is now officially her favorite thing ever. Normally I might feel guilty about letting her watch all of these in one, every day, but again, survival mode. Honestly, if my toddler will sit there nicely playing toys and watching movies that I  in fact also like, then its a win right now. We will work on the screen time later. We are parenting a newborn and a toddler in a pandemic! Basic-survival-mode. 

But week one, it's been rough. However we are so blessed that we have a support system, although it is more challenging this go around with COVID mixed in. We can't really accept much external help due to the fear of introducing COVID in this vulnerable household right now, so yet another change in how we have been able to welcome him into the world.

The nights have been rough- He is awake about every 2 hours (sometimes 2.5) at night, and changing him and feeding him takes about 30-40 minutes, giving me about 90 minutes maximum to sleep in between. And thats if I fall asleep right away. That is sometimes the hardest part of new motherhood. It's easy enough to say, "okay I have 90 minutes, let's sleep the whole time!" but really, mom ears are always open and every little baby grunt or whimper whips me wide awake again, and I spend a large amount of time stressing myself out with thoughts like, "Okay, now is your chance- ya better sleep right now...go to sleep...count the's your chance...Soon he will be awake again...sleep now or forever stay awake...soon your time is up..." and it goes on and on. During the day I get about 3-3.5 hour naps out of him, but of course we are chasing our toddler around all day. So "Sleep when the baby sleeps" carries a new meaning when you introduce your second. And it's pretty much nonexistent. Basically we have still been able to take naps with the use of "who's turn is it to nap" and one parent will man both kids while the other can peacefully get a solid 2 hours. 

At night I also find myself not sleeping in my desired positions either. After you put the baby in the bassinet, of course you must awkwardly stand there making sure all your efforts have worked and it appears in fact that he will go to sleep. Once you've accepted the fact that just maybe, he does indeed appear to be falling asleep, you realize OMG my 90 minutes has now started, its now like 87 minutes! So you carefully crawl into bed (our bassinet is right next to my side) so as not to make any noise. But THEN, You can't get into a perfectly comfortable position because THEN you are pretty much asking the baby gods to wake your baby up, thus you must let go of your comfy position and attend to baby. So INSTEAD, you awkwardly lay there in pretty much whatever position you got in the bed, and compromise with the baby gods- "I will agree to lay here uncomfortably if you just give me 2 hours of sleep" and there we go. Except sometimes the baby Gods still go back on their word, and on nights like last night, baby is up at 2 am and doesn't truly find more sleep until 6:30 when we all give up and come downstairs. These days, I find extra comfort in latching on to dreams I have had, because they are proof that I did in fact sleep. I'd also be lying if I said I haven't googled how much night nurses cost! Just kidding, I won't go there...yet. 

Having a boy has its other challenges of course that having a girl did not bring prior! Of course I am talking about the lovely diaper changes. Prior to newborn life, I heard all the warnings, but thought, how hard can it be? Just keep the diaper over the area and you won't get peed on. HAH! HA! We have been shot with valiant streams of pee (it really is amazing how high it can go) multiple times. On our first night home, I assure you we went through approximately 5 outfits (JUST overnight). Luckily we have improved slightly since then and *only* range 1-2 outfits per night now. If we are lucky enough to catch it from shooting in the air, we still sometimes face it creating puddles underneath as well. BUT I have learned some tips, in which I will share with you- in possible hopes it may help another boy mom out there!

From this point forward, lets just refer to "it" as well...It.

Step 1: Roll up the onesie as far up as you can go as to prevent babies outfit from getting soaked. 

Step 2: Place a new diaper directly under the still fastened, dirty diaper, so as also to protect the changing pad from puddles.

Step 3: Open up the old diaper. NOW WAIT. NO SUDDEN MOVES. "It" has now seen the cold and you are now in the danger zone. DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT. THE MINUTE YOU TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT, IT WILL SHOOT HIGHER THAN THE YELLOWSTONE FOUNTAIN GEYSER. 

Step 4: If you aren't lucky enough to promote the pee fountain during these first 30 seconds with the old diaper still there ready to re-shut to capture the pee, then try waving at it to further induce coldness. No I don't mean waving hello, you know what I mean- just wave to blow air on it. Repeat Step 3. 

Step 5: If you have not been able to induce the stream of pee, you're now on your own. Ya gotta do the rest As-Fast-As-POSSIBLE. Have your wipes ready, have the butt cream ready and ready set GO! Get that old diaper out and new diaper fastened as soon as possible! Beat your own record every time! We still sometimes have gotten hit during this danger zone, but the likelihood has been a little less. 

We did buy these little "pee pee teepees" that basically provide somewhat of a pee shelter in hopes of catching most of the pee if he does go. But these have not quite stopped the other problem of the puddles underneath, plus they don't stay on great, especially with small squirmy babies like mine. 

Speaking of buying things, holy canoli. First off, let me express my gratitude for Amazon, especially during this pandemic. I realize I suddenly need something, and I'm on Prime ordering it right away. Sometimes I don't even know if the product exists and Amazon shows me the light! (Like the pee pee tee pee!- I just typed "pee shelter" into the search bar, and who knew- it exists!) And also I'd like to express even MORE gratitude for Amazon's return policy. Four products in the last 10 days, FOUR, I have bought hastily because I was convinced I needed it for my postpartum recovery or for baby, and by the time it arrived (granted there were holiday shipping delays), I realized I did not in fact need it. RETURN. 

As for my recovery, I must say it has seemingly gone much better than I felt it did with my first. Maybe its because I knew what to expect, maybe not. I had the same degree tear but this time overall felt like I healed faster. My biggest piece of advice to any pregnant mom is to start a miralax regime about a month prior to expected delivery and continue post partum. It will REALLY help that first poo after birth which is NO-JOKE. In fact Miralax might be my new go-to present I gift to new moms at their baby showers. I might get weird looks but they will thank me after their first poo. 

My milk came in around day 3, 4 ish and hot diggity. I cannot actually believe women pay a lot of money to feel like this ALL THE TIME. I truly feel like I am a breast size X right now and it is ridiculous. I know my body is still figuring it out but MAN. Whenever the baby nurses, he's basically telling my body each time and each day how much my body should continue to make, and frankly the  milk chef is having a hard time keeping up. I visualize a milk waiter taking his order, like- ok so you want 2 oz now, 7 oz later, 5 oz after that, Left boob right boob, 6 oz tonight- and then the waiter gives up and delivers 2 gallon milk jugs and just basically installed a gallon on each boob and told the baby to figure it out. It is insane. 

I'd say the last biggest difference between the first and second kid (besides the gender, duh) has been the comfort level. Although caring for newborns is still really scary and still generates anxiety, the comfort level is still noticeably higher. With my first we literally logged every time I nursed, which boob, how long...every pee, every poo, etc. We used the Glow Baby app and it was great, I highly recommend for new parents. I even printed the spreadsheet it gives you and brought it to my pediatrician and he laughed at its insaneness. This time around, we made it to day four with logging everything. Basically, is he peeing? Yes. Is he pooping? Yes. Is he eating? Yes. Thats all we need to know. Everything works. As for remembering which boob I handed out last and exactly what time it was? No idea. But we're figuring it out. 

The last thing I leave you with is the emotional state. Being a new parent is so hard, so emotionally and physically exhausting that sometimes each day its hard figuring out how to keep going. How to face yet another night of no sleep. The best advice I can help give is to do teamwork parenting. Take turns on who is doing what. Give each other turns napping like I mentioned above. Give each other GRACE and don't get on each others case about what they are or are not doing right now. Show each other love and support as you are each struggling in different ways. Balance the duties. If the mom is exclusive breastfeeding, then dads can help with more diapers, or the dishes, or laundry, etc. Set goals for the day. That sounds overly ambitious, but I actually mean it to be the opposite. Set one goal or intention for the day, and everything else is icing on the cake. For example, "today we will just do one load of laundry", or "today I will fold yesterdays load of laundry", "today I will wash the dishes", and literally GO YOU. You set a goal, even if its a small one, and rest the rest of the day. In fact, writing this blog today was my only goal. The rest of the day has been baby snuggles! And lots of pee and poop. But give yourself grace. Give yourself rest. 

So many people have asked me in the first couple days, "do you need anything", or "how can I help", but I don't know what to tell people. What we need is someone to help pick up all the toddlers toys off the ground for the millionth time, someone to help make dinners, someone to do laundry, the dishes, etc. Unfortunately with COVID its a lot harder to even accept that kind of help right now.  So we cope. See above: basic-survival-mode. When hubby goes back to work....I'm still trying to figure out how I will survive, but again I plan to use my goal/intention technique above- one goal, one task, and the rest will be icing on the cake. 

Thank you all for reading my extensive word vomit. Newborn life is no joke. Its ONE of the hardest parts of parenting but also one of the best, too. The newborn snuggles are THE BEST, truly, the BEST. My toddler doesn't really snuggle anymore because she's always on the go, so when my little man will fall asleep in my arms, it is the best feeling ever. I cherish these days and am doing my best to record them in words and in pictures because I truly know how fast they go! 

Thank you for reading, 

Love, The New Motherboard. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Birth Story: Volume 2!

 Hello Readers!

So the day has come, baby #2 has arrived! I soooo had intentions of writing one final blog while pregnant, but, life had other plans! So everyone loves a good birth story, so here is mine! If birth stories aren't your thang, I suggest you skip this one. 

Last weekend, i.e. December 19th & 20th and into the beginning of the week, I was having a lot of contractions, but nothing regular. Sometimes 10 minutes apart, sometimes hours. I felt like labor was close but didn't want to get my hopes up, as I had thought the same thing with my first child and she was a week late. I was also 3 cm dilated already as of Friday December 18th! Another indication labor could be soon. We saw my OB Tuesday the 22nd and all agreed that due to babies bigger size and my dilation, I was a candidate for a scheduled induction December 30th. Okay, cool! 8 days to go, hah. Spoiler alert, baby had other plans. 

My week started out normal despite the contractions. I felt an overwhelming desire to finish the artwork I had planned to make for the nursery (our bodies are weird in somehow prepping us to nest like that just in time!). Other than that, I was working full time as normal, and in fact was up late Tuesday night studying for an exam for work scheduled to take the next day (the 23rd). 

I slept horribly overnight, partly attributed to my extraordinary hip pain, bathroom trips, back pain, anxiety for my exam the next day, the usual. Amongst the sounds of my husband getting ready for work I was in and out of sleep as I waited for the sounds of my toddler on the baby monitor. Then all the sudden I was jolted awake at 6:50 AM exactly  by what truly did feel like a 'pop'. They say thats what to expect when your water breaks, but I wasn't convinced yet. I did feel warm water, and started thinking....oh gosh. I sat up, and yep! Water was breaking! Water broke! Holy moley baby is coming TODAY! I ran to bathroom and texted my husband from the bathroom that it was time! The next hour was a rushed madhouse mixed with calling doctor, getting toddler out of crib and ready without alarming her, feeding her a snack, me eating a breakfast feast before labor, packing last minute things for labor and getting out the door...all while continuing to leak, a lot! Luckily also the contractions hadn't really started yet. 

We delivered our toddler to where she needed to go for our labor plan and got to the hospital by about 8:30 AM. Keep in mind, this was so far a completely different experience for me because my first child was a planned induction so things started off much smoother rather than water breaking. So they brought me back to triage and the doctor is all like, "so I hear you think your water broke", and I'm like, geez how many people do you guys get that think they broke it but didn't? But regardless I was like, uh- yep. He needed to confirm it and looked "down there" for about 2 seconds and was like, "Yep I've seen enough!" So admitted I was- you get to go straight pass GO. 

We were admitted by about 10 am or so. The beginning was smooth enough, just answering lots of questions (multiple times), me begging them for food (I was ALREADY starving despite my best efforts at a pre-labor feast), and them monitoring baby. Unfortunately however I was not making much dilation progress on my own after that and contractions were infrequent to their liking. So I had to start Pitocin, the fun drug that speeds up labor by telling your uterus to contract. I dreaded this because of the memories of the painful contractions it brought on with my first induction. I wasn't aware of the fact that you still may need Pitocin even if your water breaks on its own, so news to me! They started the pitocin around 12 pm, and I wanted to at least attempt to see what these contractions would feel like this time around even though I knew it was about a 0.0000534% chance I would make it far without an epidural. Sure enough, by about 2 pm I was knocking down the anesthesiologist's door to get that epidural STAT. It went a lot smoother this time because I was able to stay still with ease this time as contractions weren't AS painful YET. Plus I got a fun button that I could bolus more pain meds whenever I wanted- Rollin'! 

About 4 pm I thought for sure, boy by now I must be dilated- but nope- my body only went up to 5 cm since getting the epidural. Which, okay, great. Progress. The nurse said once I got over 5 the rest would speed up. Cool. They positioned me in all sorts of weird poses involving peanut shells and throne positions to try and convince baby to move down. I still was begging for food and trying to con anyone and everyone into slipping me some dark chocolate, but to no luck. I never realized how fast I would eat orange gelatin like it was the best food ever in my life. Couldn't say the same thing about chicken broth, though. 

At about 5:30 ish, the resident and nurse come in and are basically like "the monitor is showing your contractions are too close together, so we need to place some sort of device "up there" to get a more accurate picture" and I'm like, oh okay yeah whatever you need to do. Well she checks "up there first" and is immediately like- well- nevermind! We are ready to push! 

So in the blink of an eye we went from 2 people to 8 people (maybe more, I lost count especially with everyone in a mask). Even though I was at 10 cm, the baby apparently wasn't far down enough yet so I had to still sit up and "wait until I feel pressure" (and also wait for my OB to get there). I am the type of person that does better when prepped as much as possible for what to expect- and all the sudden when there are all these people in your room it just feels really scary! 

Basically once my OB arrived and everyone was in position, we did a "practice push" at 6:25 pm, and that suddenly turned into a whirlwind of "Wait, don't push!" because the head was coming out and the OB wasn't ready yet. She finished getting ready with all her gear and we did 3 more pushes and literally by 6:27, he was here!! 6 pushes and 2 minutes! He was 8 lbs, 3 oz and 20 inches ! Big baby for being 38 weeks gestation!

The rest was magical, lots of goo and skin to skin and ALL love. Everything was great with baby boy and we snuggled so much for about 2 hours minus the checks they had to do. 

The rest is boring- due to COVID my husband and I were pretty much trapped in our room until discharge. No visitors allowed was hard for us not being able to have our parents come by. Lots of TV was watched and baby snuggles! 

Overall what strikes me the most is how similar my two deliveries were. Even though my water broke with this one and I was induced with the other, besides that the timelines were remarkably the same. With my first, I arrived to the hospital at 7, pitocin started by 9, water broke (by them) by 12, epidural by 2, and pushed by 5:40 and she was out by 5:55! Our kids are only about 30 minutes apart, and both born on a Wednesday, and even just one day apart in the month! (my first born on the 22nd of the month!)

We officially came home Christmas Day and have been in a sleepless but also still magical time as a family. Look forward soon to my next blog of our newborn week 1 adventures! 

Thank you everyone for reading! 

With Love, 

The New Motherboard

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Baby Prep, Refrigerators and COVID

 Well here we are, 32 weeks (almost 33) weeks pregnant with number 2. How is it even possible that this pregnancy feels like it truly has gone by so fast? I truly do try and pause often and just soak it all in. I don't think a third one is in our future (but you never know!) so I want to truly treasure these weeks. 

About 7.3 weeks to go, and we have... not much ready. But yet, I don't feel that nervous about it? Maybe a little but not much? It's like with the first baby prep, we had no idea what we were walking into and had no idea what we needed, so I felt a lot more anxious. I coped by making sure our nursery was ready well in advance. Well, this time around we have to shuffle some things around. We decided to move our oldest down the hall so she has more room to grow as she ages (didn't make sense really to give the little baby brother a bigger room than his older sister). So we are in the midst of remodeling that room down the hall for my daughter. Once that is done (almost), and she's moved in, we can forge ahead with final preparation on the nursery. We have zero furniture and I keep procrastinating on that. We have a crib someone luckily gave to us so we just have to match furniture to that and roll with it. It will get there! Plus, now we know that baby truly won't need the nursery anyway til he is 3-5 months old when he transitions out of the bassinet in our room. 

In addition to the bedroom remodeling, our kitchen refrigerator also is kicking the dust-- which you may think, ok, just buy a new fridge. And it surely COULD have been that simple EXCEPT the silly architects of this house thought it would be brilliant to box in the fridge with cabinets and countertop- leaving very limited and small room and choices for what fridge we can get next. So, another remodel we undergo. We (well, I supervised- hubby did), tore down the cabinets (no cabinets were harmed), leaving our dying fridge just kinda hanging out there awkwardly. All our stuff that was in those cabinets is is random boxes as if we are moving, making it super fun. AND THEN we find out when we start fridge shopping that apparently refrigerators are the hot thing right now and hard to come by because of COVID and manufacturing/shipping issues- so most are on backorder til the new year. Cool. We still bit the bullet and took a chance on one we found from Lowe's, so lets pray it actually comes when it is supposed to so we can start putting our kitchen back together! Something about pregnancies in this house and major remodels. With our first pregnancy, I broke our oven- so we had to replace our oven & microwave, plus the nursery remodel AND remodeling our dining room into a playroom- whew! So if we do ever get pregnant a third time, I guess that leaves the dishwasher and a few other rooms to choose from to remodel! 

Everyone always asks me if my daughter is ready for baby... It's so hard to say. I mean who is ready for baby? She is 2 and 3 months, and every single day she surprises me with something new she has learned. She is able to understand complex commands now, is demonstrating caring, nurturing, responsibility... She knows there is a baby boy inside of mommy but I don't think she's fully grasped the fact that there is a baby that will be arriving into her world soon. She recognizes the baby has a soul though, I think, for example today she sat on top of me and I groaned in protest and said "You sat on the baby!" and she said "Ooops, sorry baby!"  We are trying to prep her as much as possible for understanding the fact that there will be a baby crying, we will have to be quiet sometimes, mommy will be holding another baby and most importantly, breastfeeding the baby. Abby hasn't breastfed since 14 months (about a year ago), so I hope there aren't any jealousy issues- but we will handle that as it comes! So is she ready? I guess as ready as we are! It will be amazing to see their interactions with each other and to see how she is nurturing him. 

Besides all that, life is revving up in intensity but also slowing down. My work life is revving up in terms of I need to get all my projects in a stable enough spot to be able to hand them off, but also I don't want to pick up new projects either. I am earning a really important certification through work this fall- I have already passed through one big project and one exam- and have three more exams to go. In 7 weeks. No big lol. So my brain feels like it will explode most days at work, but then on the flipside, life is significantly changing again on a personal level, and not just because baby is coming. COVID is ramping up in intensity at an ALARMING level, with new cases in my state (Pennsylvania) ranging around 5,000 per day. It is worse now than it was in the beginning of COVID. Granted we know more about it now, are more prepared, AND we are testing more people thus more numbers- but I still am confident in saying we are seeing more cases than we did back in April. But yet the world still is turning here, stores are still open with not many protocols, restaurants are open for dine in still, schools are open, some aren't. But given the fact that I am now almost 33 weeks pregnant, my husband and I have decided to "hunker back down" as a family unit as much as we can. Which is hard. So hard. I compare it to a diet. We all went on a diet in the spring because we HAD to, but we were all in it together. Then in the summer things relaxed a little and we all had a few donuts (okay a lot), i.e. we went out to restaurants, the beach, family outings, etc... and we got lucky. But now our family has decided to go back on that diet which is so hard after binging on all the things, and not everyone is doing it. Its hard not to go out to eat when the restaurants are open, as opposed to when the restaurants were closed in the Spring and we had no choice anyway. But, we are coping and it is a little easier as it gets colder as there isn't much to do anyway. We have lots of food packed in our freezer and will be staying in as much as we can, besides necessary grocery shopping and doctor appointments. As a nurse and with my gut feeling, I don't think COVID is going away any time soon. It's proven to be way too aggressive of a virus. It blows my mind to think back to my mindset back in March 2020 when we all thought this would just be a few weeks. Then we all thought, ok- maybe just till Summer. Now it's truly settling in that we are looking more like years. We still mourn normalcy like having normal date nights and going to the movies, not worrying about germs all the time, going out to eat without feeling like we are doing something wrong, not having to mask...but slowly we are just going to adapt to this just being the new normal. Our daughter already thinks it is normal to check our temperature every day- If we forget she literally asks to do it, forehead AND ears lol. She will likely grow up with her first few years of life thinking its completely normal that everyone wears masks. It will be very interesting to see how this will change their generation, how it will change ours... I think this could be a time period that gets referred to. Similar to how we refer to "the Great Depression", we will refer to this set of years, yes years, as "COVID". 

Well, I could probably continue word vomiting out my thoughts, but its lunch time here and I have a hungry toddler! I hope to write again before baby comes! 

Thank you for reading, 

Love, the New MotherBoard

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Holy Bananas! Third Trimester!

 Holy Bananas- I feel as if I have already let this second baby down by not blogging about him more! My last post was about the first trimester fun! This Tuesday I enter into the third at 28 weeks (although some sources say I already am at 27 weeks). 

I'd say for the first 20 weeks or so, until we found out the gender, it was an exact same pregnancy as my first. Same nausea, same headaches, same symptoms. But since finding out the gender (coincidence or not, dunno!) I am noticing more differences. More to come on that, BUT! For any blog readers that don't already know, we are having a baby boy! Turns out this makes us a "Millionaires family" which I had to look up when people told me- It means we have one of each, a boy and a girl--who knew? My husband is stoked to have a boy as am I! I hope he is 100% game for lots and lots of boy mommy snuggles, because I am! By the way, I wish the actual income came with term "Millionaires family" because, that would be awesome. Just saying. 

Anyway, as for differences in the pregnancies, the main differences are: 

1) His movements. I am convinced he might be a....tap dancer? Or a fish. Either one. He has distinct movements different than what I remember for my daughter. Although he definitely throws a good punch/kick at times, he also does this thing, where if I had to describe it, it would be a fishes fin saying Hi- like wiggling in the wind. I usually get that feeling in one spot at a time. I call him a tap dancer because there are other times it feels as if he is moving his whole body and dancing- all limbs moving at once-crazy fun! 

2) Cravings. With my daughter, I was addicted to Tropicana 50 Orange Juice, and organic gorilla munch cocoa puffs. This pregnancy, don't even mention OJ to me- I don't want it. This time around--bring me all the bagels. This craving has resulted in a few extra pounds lol. 

3) This next one is full of lots of girl gross stuff so if you aren't interested, skip to next paragraph: So as I approached ~26 weeks or so, I started having pain "down there" in the lower pelvic region. It literally felt like my bones were being squeezed- usually when I walked, or moved, really. But by 27 weeks the pain was nearly unbearable, and I was (barely) walking around my house like a 97 year old. I desperately spoke out to my OB in cries for help who referred me to Physical Therapy- who knew we have physical therapists trained in woman's health specifically? Turns out I have "symphysis pubis dysfunction" which is a fancy way of saying my pelvic bones are too relaxed (you would think this would mean less pain but no) and since it is my second baby and my body knows what to do, the pelvic bones are shifting around and preparing for birth. Cool. Luckily I got a special brace that is SUPER attractive that I get to wear around my butt- no really, super attractive because I even get to wear it OVER my pants-gathering tons of cool looks but I don't even care because it has made a 180 degree difference! As long as I have my super attractive belt on, my pain is minimal- like a 1/10, compared to a 8/10. Who knew?

I'd also like to give you this mental image of me with my super attractive belt. I also drew this with my finger on my computer, so don't judge my art skills. 

Dunno why I gave myself pigtails, but it felt right at the time. She also is shrugging, because she has no idea what's going on. Her smile is half smile (yay pain relief! but also half confused. But overall she's one heck of a badass, super attractive mama.

As we settle in for the soon to be holidays and get ready for baby number 2....wait, did I say get ready? Lol we are no where's near ready. Physically or mentally! My husband and I take turns on whose turn it is to completely freak out that we are bringing a second child in and all of the unknowns that come with it. But we are also super excited. But believe me when I say, besides a few clothes that we happen to have found while out and about, and all of the baby stuff we already have from baby #1, we have nothing else ready. I swear we were ready by now on my first pregnancy, but life was oh so good back then and I didn't even know. I was basically "just" working full time for my first. This time I am working full time, taking 2 classes per semester for my Masters (1 at a time thank God), and running after a toddler. During the school year, this gives me approximately 1-2 hours a WEEK of "free time" that isn't already dedicated to my daughter, housework, or homework. And you think I want to sort through baby stuff on that last 1-2 hours per week? No! It's NAP time during that time! God bless my husband for letting Mama take a good nap on a weekend!  But no really. Zero things are ready in the nursery. So cool. Another factor we are working on is Mission Move Daughter to New Room- A very involved mission. Our nursery, aka my daughters room now is right next to the Master Bedroom. The next closest room thats equivalent in size (maybe a little bigger) is further down the hallway. After much back and forth, we decided that although a significant struggle to achieve it, it is best for both kids if we move my daughter down the hallway and put the newborn in the nursery. So our project now is prepping my daughters NEW room so that we can move her first- then prep the nursery... Andddd we have ~ 12 weeks to go. 

I am also emotionally terrified on what it will be like bringing in number 2. I already am way prone to suffering from excess anxiety, and when children come into the mix, my anxiety just spirals out of control. I am not worried about caring for a baby again, I feel familiar enough with those steps of what worked and what didn't from my first child. What makes me nervous is all of the factors of caring for a baby and a toddler. The last thing I want to happen is for my daughter to think she has been cast aside for the newborn or that she is any less important. I want her to have as much mommy and daddy time as she has now, but I know it will be hard finding that balance. I worry about things like- how do I watch a toddler and a newborn? What if I am on the couch breastfeeding by myself and I hear my daughter say "uh oh" (she does this a lot) in another room? What if I finally get the baby to sleep but then my toddler wakes up? Or I get the toddler to sleep and the baby wakes up? What if I never sleep again??? I know. I get out of control. All I can tell myself to get me through is- one day at a time. I have no idea what the days will look like, but all I can do is one day at a time. I know there will be crazy days and days I question all my life choices, but there will also be so much love and snuggles and perfect moments too. My daughter is getting big enough now (she just turned 2 in August)- that I can give her simple tasks that will be a big help to Mama when baby is here, like "can you get the burp cloth", "can you give baby the binky", etc. As for my daughter, people ask me all the time if I think she has any idea what's coming. We have tried to prep her but I am not convinced she REALLY knows. If prompted, she will point to my stomach when asked where the baby is. She will say "baby boy" and will say the babies name, she will give it kisses through my stomach, says hi...but I think she just thinks a baby lives in my stomach all the sudden and that's probably it! We have seen little babies in public, or on TV, or in books, and have tried to explain that is what baby boy will be like, soon! And she kinda just looks at us. Soooo we will see! 

Well I couldn't not write about what its like to be pregnant and parent a child during a historic year- 2020- during a global pandemic. The world is such a weird place right now, especially being pregnant during this time. We found out we were pregnant on May 8. Literally since then (actually since March), I have seen no more than 5 of my coworkers. That is so weird! I am full time working remote, so although I get to talk to them all the time, I have lost that aspect of people seeing my bump, having hallway mama talk, etc. But then again I also don't miss random strangers on the elevator asking if I know what it is, what is it's name, etc. 

Going to the OB is also a different experience. Like many outpatient offices around my area, when I get to the office I have to "check in" from my car. The front desk staff then lets the clinical staff know I am here. Then I wait. The clinical staff then call me back and complete all the screenings, ask me all the questions, the fun stuff. They direct me to come up (in a mask of course) and we finish the rest of the visit as normal. I am blessed enough that in my part of the country/world (East Pennsylvania) my husband is allowed to join me for the ultrasounds. I cannot imagine and deeply feel for the mothers that have had to do that alone. 

Even when the world isn't in a pandemic, it is stressful being pregnant. Everything you do or every place you go, you wonder- Is this safe for me, for my baby? Now add in the huge unknown factor of a virus outbreak that you can't see but know it could seriously affect you and the unborn baby. Trying to find a balance of still trying to live our lives and let my toddler experience life but also keeping us all, especially baby and I protected, is super stressful! Every sneeze you hear, every cough, you cringe- wondering if you just exposed yourself to the virus, and having no idea if you do get the virus, what long term outcomes/consequences it will have on you and baby. There is no visible end in sight for this virus, as we approach month bajillion, and I know it will be a way different experience having a baby and first few months post partum during COVID. No more big family parties to see the newborn. No more taking newborn out in public (to the mall, restaurants, shopping) to 'get out of the house' (He is also born in January so the cold changes things too even in a non-pandemic world). It will certainly be different, but all we can do is hope. Hope for a vaccine. Hope for a change. Hope for better virus management. Hope for better days ahead. Luckily the kids are/will be young enough they won't remember this, but will be interesting to explain to them what life was like during this time, when they were oh so little. All we can do is love them and keep home life as normal as possible and keep things positive within our 4 walls and we will survive. This too shall pass. 

Well, I could keep writing about anything and everything, but I will stop here. Little daughter is currently shouting "mommy change pooey!" from her crib- post nap- her favorite time to poo. SO I better get on that! I thank you kindly for being interested enough to read this post, it means a lot to me. I am excited to be able to document these things that my children can also look back on in the future. 

With love, 

The New Motherboard. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

First Trimester: Twice and Done?

Hello Readers!

I come to you today with great news! Abby is almost 2 years old, and we are officially almost 15 weeks with our newest little addition! So I wanted to document how my first trimester has been and how life is with a toddler!

It was May 8. We found out May 8. We purposely waited to test on a Friday so that either way how the news went we could soak in it over the weekend. We had been trying for our second for a few months (since Fall 2019), so we were starting to fall into the same pattern of hoping every cycle and being really bummed out when it was negative. Well, it was a rather underwhelming and confusing test this time around! We took the test and saw the results and it looked negative. We went through our usual "bummer"s and hugs and "next times" and continued on with our morning brushing our teeth. But then we kept looking at it... was that a second line? Was it? Nah. It was SO faint. SO FAINT. It couldn't be. We had no idea and didn't want to get our hopes up. I was two weeks late past my cycle, but that was nothing new for me and my cycle patterns. So, was I 6 weeks pregnant or was this faint line just a tease? We googled it and sure enough, it seemed convincing that the faint line was indeed a positive. But it was hard to believe and I didn't want to get my hopes up.

I called my doctor to explain this faint line syndrome and she advised to test again in one week. But man did that week feel like an eternity! And in the meantime, my body definitely started acting like I was pregnant *right away*. Nausea was in full effect from day one, so it was even harder to not get my hopes up. Well sure enough, we ended up testing two more times, and although still faint, definitely two lines! We were pregnant!

Then...then something happened to my mindset. Let me explain.

Before May 8, I had been making huge strides in working on myself. Not only was I working out 5 days a week, I was losing inches and weight, I was waking up at 6 am every day doing my daily affirmations and journaling-- I had concrete plans on releasing a book journal template, finishing my book I've been working on, potentially starting a new business, working on my data scientist skills, and a few other goals. And then I found out I was pregnant. And don't get me wrong in any way, like I said earlier, we WANTED to get pregnant, I wanted this and I already loved this baby so much. But another part of me felt like...why go after the new fit body when I was just going to become huge again? Why start a business now when I might feel overwhelmed about it all when I might have a business, a toddler and a baby in 9 months? What if my momentum now will cause too much stress in the future? A huge part of me has a lot of anxiety of the unknown. Reading my past posts before Abby even came into the world, I had a lot of anxiety about what it would be like to a mom of a newborn, and then a mom of a toddler. But then I knew I had to just take it one day at a time. And I know I still do. Sure, life with a 2.5 year old and a newborn will be an adjustment but I can't worry about that now, I can worry about it when January 2021 comes. And as for my mindset switch? I decided to let it be. My body needs to rest and thats what felt like being right at the time for me. I'm 32, the books and business ideas and projects have plenty of time. And for the longest time, I blamed it somehow on the news of being pregnant. But a few weeks ago, I had another epiphany. Something else happened May 8- That week was my last week of my semester in my masters program. I'm the type of person that thrives on being busy. Got lots of homework? Great! Lets power through and get that done and start a business at the same time because I'm already going at full speed. And at the end of every semester I always say, THIS summer I am going to get SO MUCH done. I'm going to maintain my practice on my data scientist skills and I will come out so ahead. And maybe I would have if I hadn't found out about the pregnancy, but my track record of last summer would state otherwise. When I find myself with more time, I somehow want to do even less.

SO yeah. I have slowly, slowly, been working on putting back the pieces and trying to get up and work on my daily affirmations and journaling still. But getting up at 6 am to do that sounds so hard when the bed is so inviting at the same time! Still working on that. Throw into the mix 4 months of quarantine will also mess with the best of us working on our goals.

The pregnancy itself has almost been a carbon copy of my first pregnancy with Abby. And disclaimer- I do not intend to sound like I am complaining about being pregnant. I LOVE being pregnant and having the *privilege* to be so lucky that I am blessed enough to carry not one but two babies into this world. I am so blessed, I know that every day and I am so grateful every single day.  BUT that doesn't mean I have to hide the hardships of the pregnancy either. For me, my experience in the two pregnancies I've had, the first trimester brings immense amounts of nausea. No vomiting, thank god, but crazy nausea. Like usually by 8-9 am, until bedtime. I get to sleep nausea free (usually) but then repeat cycle. Being so nauseous just makes you feel so unstable. You feel so vulnerable and your stomach just feels like it could fall right out of your abdomen. I started craving carbs- any carbs (especially bagels) and it was one of the few things I could tolerate that not only helped me feel better but didn't make me feel worse. Vegetables? Forget it. Salad? Ha! Bread? Bring me all the bread. I swore to myself when I was losing weight and learning about nutrition I would do pregnancy better this time around, eat better this time, but when you feel like total crap and have been nauseous all day, and that bagel with butter is calling your name, nutrition (for me at least) goes completely out the window.

*Total disclaimer* I am not a doctor, obviously. But I want to share what my own doctor suggested for my nausea, and it has been a game changer. I had actually completely forgotten about this from Abby's pregnancy and when the doctor reminded me at my first prenatal I was so relieved. Half a tab of Unisom (yes, its a sleeping aid pill) before bedtime. Half a tab. Thats it. It makes you sleepy, sure- but for some magical reason it curbs the nausea almost completely the next day. I hope this trick can help anyone else out there.

After the nausea faded, about 2-3 weeks ago my headaches started. I got these in Abby's second trimester also, but I was hoping to have more time before they got this bad. I plan to write a whole separate blog on how to deal with pregnancy headaches, but it is no easy feat. Especially trying to care for a toddler and a pounding pulsating head at the same time. I thank the Lord that I have an amazing husband that helps so much in these times (and all times).

Needless to say, between the nausea, headaches, and total and complete exhaustion, it's been hard keeping my workout routine. I've been lately in these last few weeks to get 2, maybe 3 workouts in per week. And I hate that. But I also have to give myself some grace, and know that I will get back to it in full swing, one day. One day soon!

Abby is the most beautiful and smartest creature I've ever met and it's hard to believe I helped make her and bring her into this planet. Her favorite things right now are planes, going on walks, playing with stuffed animals, playing house. Her favorite things to watch are Monsters Inc, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins. She can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the ABCs. She can correctly identify most letters when written and gets most of her colors correctly identified, although still has trouble verbalizing the colors. She is starting to string together 3 word sentences and amazes me every day with each new word she learns every day. She is the sweetest little girl and knows when I am sick because she gives me extra snuggles and hugs those days. She is also almost 2 and is definitely testing Mommy and Daddy's rules and her limits, so thats been real fun. She's exercising her right to shout NO and throw things in defiance, so we are working on that. But seeing her smile and getting her hug and her head on my shoulder, hearing her giggle is the best thing on this entire planet. Always will be.

Almost 15 weeks, and counting. I plan to update you all on this pregnancy and am so happy everyone finally knows (it's always so hard keeping it from everyone when you just want to shout it from the rooftops!)

Til next time,

The New Motherboard.