Life behind the blog – a day in the life at 15 months

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Good morning!!!

Hope your week is going well so far!

Some of my very favorite blog posts are ones that give me a peak into what a bloggers day to day life is like. I guess it’s part curiosity and part wanting to compare my own lifestyle to others that make them so fun and entertaining to read. So, today I’m giving you a peak at what my life is like behind the blog – a day in the life sort of post.

Please be warned that my days are pretty boring. As a stay at home mom I thrive when Margs and I follow a routine so there’s absolutely nothing spectacular going on most days. Generally, we stick to the same routine to keep things flowing well.

Here we go:

6:56 am – Margs wakes up for the day. Mer and I snuggle with her in bed for about 10 minutes before we take her downstairs into the living room. Mer changes her diaper while I put on a strong pot of coffee.

7:30 am – Mer and I enjoy our coffee and chat about the days plan while Margs’ plays independently in her pack n play. Currently she’s obsessed with puzzles – she can play with the pieces for hours. Mer and I usually discuss things like dinner plans, errands and any pressing issues we need to take care of.

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8:00 am – I give Margs her breakfast – I rotate between french toast, scrambled eggs and whole wheat waffles. She usually has one of those with a yogurt and a few pieces of fruit. While she eats I check my email, WordPress notifications and do other blog related things like answering comments, emails or twitter notifications.

8:15 am- Margs drinks some water while watching some cartoons. In the meantime I unload the dishwasher, wipe down the counter tops, sweep the floor and tidy up after breakfast.

8:30 am – Margs and I read books, play with puzzles and practice walking running.

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9:00 am- Margs gets a morning bottle and hopefully takes a nap.

9:30 – 11:30 am – I pull some ground beef out of the freezer to make a meatloaf for dinner. I open the package and let it rest on the counter to defrost. I start laundry, clean the powder room and fold a batch of clothes that were in the dryer. I then sit down and and catch up on blog reading with a cup of tea. At around 11, I make Margs’ lunch – minestrone soup with egg noodles is on the menu today.

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12:00 pm– Margs and I eat lunch.

12:30 pm – I get Margs dressed in her winter gear and we head out for a walk. She’s not a huge fan of her stroller but once we get moving she settles down and enjoys the ride.

1:30 pm – Back at home. After undressing Margs and putting her snow gear away I prepare a bottle and we snuggle on the couch while she drinks. Today she decides she doesn’t want to nap.

2:00 pm – I work on dinner while Margs zooms around the house. I take breaks to chase her and she runs around giggling.

2:30 pm – Margs and I have a tea party, play with dolls and play with more puzzles.

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2:45 pm – Margs is extra fussy and should nap but wont. I put on a Teletubbies episode on Youtube so she can relax.

3:15 pm– She’s a little less fussy and we get back to playing. I haul her upstairs to put away the laundry. She watches me from her pack n play in our room

3:30 pm –  I put her winter gear back on so we can play  in the driveway. Her “friends” get home around this time and she loves “playing” with them.

4:00 pm – We’re back inside – I pop dinner into the oven and give Margs a snack (Cheerios and a slice of pear) While dinner cooks we play with crayons. She hasn’t quite understood that she needs to color with them – she continues to try and eat them.

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4:15 pm– Margs pitched all the crayons on the floor. I pick them up and she laughs. I put her on the carpet with a bunch of toys and she plays alone. I check on dinner.

4:30 pm – Margs is getting fussy, she’s likely hungry but dinner isn’t ready yet. We play with her giant rubber ball to pass some time. She loves when I throw the ball up in the air and it hits the ceiling.

4:45 pm – I put Margs in her high chair and I give her some veggies that were left over from the night before. She’s really hungry and getting more and more upset.

5:00 pm –  I pull the meatloaf out and slice Margs a piece. I teach her to blow on her food when it’s too hot.

5:30 pm – Margs has finished eating. I clean up her high chair and the floor around her.

5:45 pm – I give Margs a bath and wash her hair which makes her really upset. She splashes water everywhere.

6:00 pm – Mer gets in and we sit and eat our dinner. Margs sits in her high chair and eats her dessert – usually a piece of fruit.

6:30 pm – Mer makes Margs a bottle while I load the dishwasher and clean the kitchen. I collect bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers from all over the house so they can be sterilized. They read books and cuddle before bed.

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7:00 pm – Margs is asleep in her cot.  Mer comes back downstairs and makes sure the baby monitor is positioned correctly. We sit on the couch and catch up on our day. Mer always asks me “did Margs do anything new today?”.

7:45 pm – Margs is sitting up in her cot crying. I head upstairs and try to soothe her back to sleep. She isn’t having it.

8:00 pm – Margs is back to sleep but on the couch with us. We turn down the t.v so we can hear what we’re watching (The Kindness Diaries) but not wake her up.

8:30 pm – Mer carries Margs back up to her cot. We’re crossing our fingers that she wont wake up again. I sit behind the computer and start drafting a new post for the blog.

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9:30 pm – Mer tells me he’s off to bed. I opt to keep writing a little while longer because I’ve got a bunch of ideas I want to get down before I forget about them completely. He kisses me goodnight and heads upstairs.

11:00 pm – I shut down the computer, close all the lights, check that all the doors are locked and head up to take a shower before bed.

11:30 pm – I crawl into bed and cross my fingers that Margs will have a good night.

12:00 am – Margs wakes up screaming. Soothing her isn’t working so I carry her into our bed. She falls asleep quickly and we sleep snuggled together until morning.

When do you squeeze in blogging time?

 

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What surprised me most about being a stay at home mom

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When Margs was born I felt like it was the first time I could really breathe in a long long time. I spent my whole pregnancy holding my breath and crossing my fingers for just one more day, one more week and one more month. By some miracle my cerclage kept me pregnant and we welcomed a 40 week (!!!!!!!) miracle into the world on her due date.

I spent so much time focused on getting her here that I never considered what being a stay at home parent would be like- I didn’t care really, my only focus was getting that precious baby here alive.

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15 months later I’m reflecting on being a stay at home mom and I’m realizing that I don’t necessarily love it all of the time. I wish I did, but, I just don’t. Actually, there are days that I’m angry and resentful and frustrated and tired of it.

I feel horrible even writing these things because I’m a rainbow mom. A rainbow mom shouldn’t ever complain about anything parenting related because well, she’s a rainbow mom. I’ve struggled, I’ve faced repeat loss, I’ve had my heart broken in ways that only other loss mums understand and yet there are days that I struggle with being at home with this little girl I prayed and pleaded with the universe to have.

Some days I resent that my husband can head out into the “real” world and socialize with people and have adult conversation. Some days I resent that he gets a mental break from the constant attention, stimulation and energy Margs demands. Then, I snap myself back to reality and realize that he likely resents me for being home with her and getting the privilege to experience all those moments that he misses while he’s away.

Being home with a young child is difficult. Meeting her needs, caring for her, playing with her and watching over her are not the hard parts. The hard parts include the feelings of isolation, the loss of my identity outside of being “mom” and giving up my career (albeit temporarily).

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Some days I feel like I’m not “Jenny” anymore. I’ve become this version of myself that doesn’t know what do outside of caring for a baby. I’ve lost drive, passion and desire – things that fueled my life in very powerful ways before. Sadly, I’ve given up nearly all my favorite pastimes because quite honestly I’m just so tired that I don’t have the mental energy to devote myself to doing anything consistently. I used to love to read, exercise, knit and take photos – all things I’ve basically abandoned because the passion just isn’t there anymore.

In someways, I’ve lost myself to motherhood.

Life has become routinely robotic – Margs wakes – she gets fed, entertained and put down for a nap. Afternoon are the same. Evenings are the same. My days essentially look like carbon copies of each other.

I sometimes deal with an intense desire to go back to work. I was happy in my classroom. I loved what I did. I loved watching young minds analyze, interpret and question and sometimes I’m frustrated by the fact that I’ve given up so much. That sounds so incredibly selfish doesn’t it?

Having Margs was such a blessing. A blessing that I felt required me to give up my identity, lifestyle and career to cherish. We agreed early on that I’d stay home with her. Partly for financial reasons (childcare is expensive) and partly because we’re loss parents who maybe on some level feel like we have to do this to thank the universe for blessing us with such a precious gift.

On days where I’m feeling especially weighed down by it all I feel guilty. So so guilty. I should love this. I should love being home with her and love the opportunity to watch her grow. I should love these things because getting her here meant losing 5 other babies.

I hate that my perceptions of motherhood are tainted by so much grief and loss. I hate that I often second guess my own needs because somehow I’ve convinced myself that it’s not okay to be not okay and that to truly appreciate my gift I must love every inch of motherhood.

Motherhood is just hard. Staying home makes it even harder.

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I’m slowly working on being gentle with myself and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel this way sometimes.  I’m working on somehow finding an intersection between the analytic, spontaneous Jenny who I used to be and the run of the mill mom I often feel I’ve become.

Does parenting somehow alter who we are? Does it change us in ways that can sometimes make us feel unfulfilled?


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Our story of loss, hope and happiness

I haven’t told the whole story in years. I’ve somehow managed to split the journey in two – the dark period before Margs and the happy period after. There was just so much awful stuff before baby girl that on some level I needed to make that distinction so that I didn’t have to continue facing the details of what exactly happened to us and how ridiculously difficult and unfair our journey to becoming parents to an earthly child was.

I wrote a post about feeling like my family was not complete months ago without really explaining the difficulties I face. I’ve spent weeks analyzing options and scenarios and unfortunately I’m no closer to making a decision than I was before. It did however occur to me that many of you fine folks have only gotten bits and pieces of the story and probably think I’m crazy for being so scared. Again, I’ve intentionally avoided sharing the whole story because it sucks and it hurts and most days I’m perfectly content pretending it didn’t really happen (not the most effective way of dealing with grief – I know).

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So, can I tell you a story? Can I tell you about my babies?

In 2012 I got pregnant- it wasn’t a planned pregnancy because Mer and I were still sorting out our financials in anticipation of starting a family but we were thrilled regardless. At 12 weeks we found out we were expecting twins which left us amazed and terrified. We soon got to work preparing for our babies – 2 cribs, 2 car seats, 2 bouncers – you get the drift. By the time I was 18 weeks pregnant we essentially had everything in order because we were having twins and had been warned that it could be a difficult pregnancy and we should anticipate preparing for them early – if we only knew.

At 20 weeks and 3 days pregnant I woke up to spotting. I called my hospital triage who told me to take a shower and lay down but present to triage if it persisted. I had an appointment for my anatomy scan later that afternoon and figured I’d mention it then if it persisted. Later that morning, the bleeding intensified – we were scared and so we chose to head to the hospital to get checked out. The details of that day are pretty hazy now but I believe they gave me a urine test (which came back negative) and sent me home with orders to rest and that ultimately bleeding “sometimes” happens. They didn’t check my cervix which I’ve learned is standard procedure in twin pregnancies after the 20 week mark.

We headed home where we ate pogos (I haven’t eaten once since) and discussed how thankful we were that the bleeding was “normal” and nothing “significant”. I remember saying to Mer “Phew, I’m so glad they are okay – I cannot imagine losing them now”.

Later that afternoon we headed to my scheduled appointment for our anatomy scan where we were super excited to find out if the twins were girls or boys (our attitude about scans and such has changed so so much since then). Little did we know our life was about to change forever.

I remember things like “the babies looks so good”, “I want to do a vaginal u/s to check but I’d never forgive myself if your water breaks”, “it’s really too too bad”.

We had no idea what was going – we had no idea what was about to happen. We had no idea that this was the beginning of the end.

With orders to head back to the hospital Mer and I loaded ourselves into the car and drove back to the hospital that had sent me home earlier that morning with nothing to worry about. This time, they were waiting for me and put me into a bed immediately.

I spent the next 3 days in trendelenburg position, meaning I was laying head down with my feat well above my head hoping that my membranes would recede.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that part? I was 4cm dilated with bulging membranes the day of our scan.

On the second day at the hospital my doctor came to visit. She sat by my bedside and told me it wasn’t good. She explained that I had 2 choices – 1) I could opt to terminate the pregnancy or 2) agree to be transferred to another hospital facility with a neonatal intensive care unit where I’d stay on bed rest until the babies came.

We opted for a transfer.

After arriving at the new facility I had a team of perintologists examine me and explain my harsh new reality. I was essentially in pre-term labor, my cervix was too weak to hold my babies in and that we could try prolonged bed rest but that decision came with risks of infection and septicemia. There were no other options because at 4cm dilated any of the emergency procedures they could have tried would have either ruptured my membranes or resulted in infection.

We opted to take the risk and have me hospitalized to basically wait out the rest of my pregnancy hanging upside down.

After two days of waiting, praying and waiting some more the twins decided that it was time.

We were escorted down to the specialized birthing unit where moms are giving birth to babies who will die (it sounds harsh but it’s the truth). I believe there were 6 of us there at the same time and by a complete accident I ended up connecting with one of the other moms a year later. The universe is weird that way.

I labored for approximately 4 hours and our precious little girls were born.

Both babies were born alive although by legal standards they are considered a “stillbirth”. Mer held them both as they took their last breaths. I remember this moment vaguely (I was sedated with large amounts of Ativan at the time) although Mer reminds me often that I held both their little hands and sang to them.

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3 weeks later I hemorrhaged and nearly lost my life and had to have an emergency D&C to stop the bleeding.

I got pregnant again 6 months later. A second set of twins. We were optimistic since I’d found a phenomenal new doctor who had an amazing plan to keep me pregnant. I found out that we’d lost the that set of twins at around 7 weeks pregnant and had another D&C because my body wouldn’t miscarry on its own.

The next 18 months were spent having surgery after surgery. I was diagnosed with a septate uterus, ashermans syndrome and the MTHFR gene.

Basically my uterus was misshapen and full of scars which I was told was likely going to leave me infertile because of the D&Cs. I was told not to get my hopes up.

I got pregnant again in the summer of 2014 and miscarried days after finding out.

By 2015 after trying to get pregnant for nearly a year, Mer and I started exploring other options. We either needed to come to terms with being child free or look into adoption aggressively. At our ages and with the wait period involved in an international adoption we knew we needed to figure out what our life path would be.

In the meantime I was working and trying to put all these hardships behind me. Then, in April 2015 I found out I was pregnant with Margs.

The world stopped and I gave up my career, my graduate program and my life in the real world so I could gestate this tiny baby. I did not believe for one minute that we’d get to bring her home and as each day passed I mentally prepared myself for it being the last. The odds were stacked against us but by some form of an enormous miracle she’s here and she’s safe.

It took me 67 days to write this post start to finish. I completely underestimated the power of words – this has been the most difficult piece of writing I’ve written for TTBH and most days I wiped away tears as I typed. Words hurt and are so liberating at the same time.

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Dealing with digital photo clutter by emailing my kiddo daily

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At one point I had over 3000 images of Margs on my iPhone.  I had no idea how many I’d accumulated until one day I was faced with a storage problem that wouldn’t allow me to snap any new photos.

You see, weeks after Margs was born I realized I had hardly any photos of her with me. There were a ton of pictures of Mer and Margs but only a handful of pictures of me with my little girl. (Sadly, I don’t think I have any photos with her from when she was actually born) What ensued was a hormone raged argument meltdown initiated by me accusing Mer of not wanting to digitally document my relationship with Margs. Although I admit this was completely blown out of proportion (I blame the post partum hormones and the start of my post partum depression) the reality was that Mer just didn’t think to take photos of our growing little girl. Once I calmed down, I explained to Mer that it was extremely important to me that Margs grow up with photos of us with her at every stage of her life. Since then, my dear husband snaps photos on the regular and now, we’re faced with thousands of photos creating a sea of digital clutter that can get very overwhelming.

Mer and I have decided that once a year we’d look through the photos we’ve taken and go print the images at our local photo print shop (this will actually be part of her yearly birthday presents). Digital photos are awesome but I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to try and find photos from a certain event, holiday or get together only to find out that they’ve been deleted or lost somewhere within the folders of the computer. So, when it came to dealing with the zillions of photos we take of her we had to come up with a system because we did not want to lose any along the way. Printing them helps reduce  the volume but because we opt to print the “best” photos there are often a bunch of really awesome ones that don’t make the cut and I cannot bring myself to trash them.

Instead of deleting them we’ve decided to email them to Margs.

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One of my recent emails contained an image of Margs with a fleet of rubber ducks explaining how the only way to get her to sit in the bath long enough to get bathed is to throw in 2 dozen rubber duckies.

Yup, my 14 month old has her own gmail address and she gets emails from me, her father and her bubbie on the regular.

I try to email her daily. Sometimes the emails are short, other times long. Most days, they include the photos I’ve snapped of her with a summary of what we’ve done that day and a description of any relevant news stories that I think are important (history buff in me) with a brief explanation of why I’ve included them for her.

We don’t open or read her email (other than to check that the emails were making their way through in the beginning). Our goal is to continue emailing her regularly to accumulate her digital story so that she can read and appreciate them at her own speed when she’s older.

Although I think technology can be extremely scary when it comes to children. I do think if used carefully it can be a wonderful resource. In our case, we’re using it to create a time stamped life story for our little girl that she can read when she’s old enough.

We haven’t decided when we’ll give her the password. 16, 18? We’ll see how it goes. (Hopefully gmail will still be around by then) But for now, we’re having an absolute blast sending her little notes and watching her inbox grow.

How do you deal with photo clutter in your house?

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What makes you an awesome parent?

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I got treated to a coffee date with one of my dearest girlfriends Saturday. After speaking to her Friday and letting her in on my need for a break she asked me on a date so we could chat and catch up. Since our move last summer I haven’t really been able to see my friends on a regular basis – we’ve all got a ton going on and with this new distance between us it’s a little difficult to get together as much as before. So, this was an extra special treat. Naturally, the conversation came full circle and we ended up talking about our kiddos (break right?). I told her about my blog and how I write about how damn hard parenting is sometimes and she stopped me dead in my tracks by asking me what makes me an awesome parent.

Well shit, do you know that I really didn’t know how to answer her? I just looked at her dumbfounded and in that moment I realized that I don’t give myself enough credit for the parts of motherhood that I’m actually pretty good at.

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I don’t have it all figured out- nope, not even close but I am doing the absolute best I can. There are days that I consciously ignore my kids saggy diaper butt to avoid another diaper change meltdown. There are also days where she watches more T.V than is recommended and we don’t delve into book reading, creative activities or momtastic activities like foot painting or glitter gluing.

There are days that my brain, heart and body are just tired and you know what, I think that’s okay… sometimes.

There are bad days and there are good days and on those good days I’ll tickle my little girl until she laughs so hard she cries. Those days are the ones where I let her explore, make messes and let her just be her – in all her messy glory. Those days actually happen more often than they don’t. So, maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself.

After much thought and reflection this weekend I came up with a random list of reasons why I’m an awesome mum to Margs. I think “us” Mums/Dads are far too hard on ourselves and often fail to see and acknowledge what a good job we do most of the time. We are good enough – we just have to stop, take a deep breath and appreciate it more often, don’t we?

Let’s have at it, shall we?

/ I am an awesome Mum because I’ve created and maintain a safe physical and emotional space for Margs

/ I am an awesome Mum because I love Margs unconditionally and always put her first

/ I am an awesome Mum because (despite my type A personality) I’m allowing Margs to “fall” so she can teach herself to get right back up again (both figuratively and literally)

My friend reminded me to stop and pat myself on the back every now and again so now I’m going to do the same for you – some days we just need that extra shove to put it all in perspective.

Now, I absolutely, categorically insist that you share why YOU are an AWESOME parent too!

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