Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Another Fertility Update

In short, it's not going well. At all. I hope that this "month" goes better. Last "month's" cycle was only 22 days.

Here's what's wrong with me.

Here's my mid-month update.

Well, since that happened, I'll update you again.

My odds of getting pregnant on the Follistim were about 65-70%. The odds of multiples were 30-35%. So, in short, my odds of getting pregnant were AWESOME. I was pumped.

The last time I left you, were in in the middle of injections, which most people take for 8-10 days. I took them for 12. You read that right. 12!! It was crazy. I was spotting the whole time, which the doctor credited to a cyst on my left ovary collapsing and bleeding a bit from the high levels of estrogen running in my veins. I had to take the shots for 12 days because I was spotting and my lining wasn't thick enough to support an egg implanting.

I took my trigger shot (a high dose of hcg) when I had 4 mature eggs (the goal was 3-5) on the evening of February 12. The next morning, I started having SERIOUS heavy bleeding. FOR NO REASON. The doctor said that the hcg probably made my estrogen plummet and trigger a period. I was at work and ended up on the maternity floor for "products" because the bleeding was so bad. Awesome. He brought me in for an ultrasound to see if I had ovulated, and I did! YAY! Good news. But my lining was SO thin. He said there was still a shot that I could get pregnant, so we kept our heads up. The bleeding stopped on the 17th.

I went in for some additional blood tests that day and my levels were great. My nurse said that so far, my blood work was indicative of a pregnancy and I was over the moon. And then I went in again on the 20th and all of my number had PLUMMETED and she said that there was NO WAY my body could support a pregnancy in it's current state. And then the next day, I started bleeding again. This time, it was my actual period. My cycle was exactly 22 days long.

I called the office and they were like, ahhhhhh, NO! That was on saturday.

I started another cycle on monday the 25th. I went in for my ultrasound monday morning and bloodwork and they found a 2 inch cyst on my right ovary. It's new. Thank you Follistim. They told me if my estrogen levels were over 60 that I wouldn't be able to do another cycle until the cyst was surgically drained. TRIGGER MY ABSOLUTE FREAK OUT!!

I went to work with all sorts of horrible things running through my mind and when my nurse finally called me at lunch I was considering quitting the Follistim until the summer and hoping that the cyst would collapse on it's own. But my estrogen was only 51!! Praise God. So I started taking my meds again that night and now were are trying to speed up the cycle from 12 days to less than 9 because Troy and I are traveling to visit a friend in Colorado next weekend and will be unavailable for 4 days.

With that said, I am SO HOPEFUL that everything goes better this round. And that it goes faster. Otherwise, my doctor is writing me a note to carry large needles and medication onto a we are now on cycle #2 of Follistim. Here we go again... In good news, the medicine is AMAZING and I feel like a million dollars.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Working Mom # 3 - Communication and Support is Key

This is Mandy. I've known her since I was about 9. Woah. She encouraged me and gave me all the resources to use cloth diapers with Avery (which we have done since she was 10 weeks old). All the stresses of being a working mom can be overwhelming (especially in NoVA), but when you have a support system behind you, she shows how you can be healthy, enjoy your job, and your child without the guilt.

Here's Mandy:

My name is Mandy and I should probably start this off by saying one of my first full-time summer jobs was watching Natalie and her brother Tyler. (To be honest, I was really watching Tyler... Natalie was already old enough to take care of herself. Her mom and step-dad felt it best to have someone a little older there while they both worked and because Natalie and Tyler had some summer activities they didn't want them to miss. And so began my working career. And it has continued non-stop, in full-time or part-time capacity, to present day. I share this little story because working has been a very big part of my life for 17 years. And having a kid hasn't ended that, at least not yet.

I was fortunate to be able to take 3 months off from my job after I had "A." And to be honest, I was very conflicted about going back. I enjoy my job (I work for a newspaper in Washington DC) but having a tiny little thing that depends entirely on you really makes you think. We found an in-home daycare that is near my husband's office and she seemed really great, but I won't lie, that first week back was pretty rough... figuring out when to pump, worrying about A, even though I knew she was probably doing fine, thinking I was an awful mother for not deciding to stay home, etc...

But in the end, I stayed at work and A kept going to daycare. Overall, it is a good situation: I get 8 hours to interact with adults (not in my family) and do something I love to do and A gets quality time interacting with other kids her age, with some age-appropriate learning thrown in. And living in NOVA (Northern Virginia for those of you who don't know), having two incomes is a major plus, even if 1/4 of my salary is going to daycare.

The bads were there too: A got sick a record 10 times her first winter in daycare and she was still under 1. That has to be a record right? I can't remember the last time I had a cold until I had a kid. It is so true: they are germ factories! And then there was pumping... good lord. My office was "accommodating" as in they gave me a room with a door to pump in, but I had to coordinate with another pumping mother in my office and the door didn't have a lock, so we had this silly sign we had to put up that said "IN USE." I kept joking with my close coworkers that everyone knew what we were doing so we might as well have that sign say "MILKING." With my deadline driven job, it was really hard to find the 2-3 20 min times to pump with two women using that room. There were ups and downs, but with the help of good ol' Medela I was able to do it for 16 months before we started weaning.

Something that is both a positive and negative is my work schedule. As I said I work for a newspaper and it publishes 7 days a week. This means we have to have people in the office everyday. Thankfully by the time my husband and I were talking about kids, I had one weekend day off. My current schedule is Sun-Thurs. This means I watch A on Fridays while my husband is at work and my husband watches her on Sunday when I'm at work. It is nice to have one day just mommy and daughter, and I'm sure my husband loves daddy-daughter days but that also means we only have one day together as a family. That is pretty rough and one of the things I don't like about this working mom thing... it is even less time as a family then a "regular" working mom.

A typical day involves waking everyone up by 5:30 a.m., leaving the house by 6:15. My husband dropping me off at Metro by 6:45 and then dropping A off at daycare before he heads to work. Then working until 4 or 4:45 (depending on the day) and Metroing back to my husband who has already picked up A. Then the commute home usually takes double the time it does in the morning. When we get home its a run for me (if the traffic/weather isn't too bad), dinner, play for 1/2 hour with A and then she goes to bed. Then I get to breathe and maybe read or watch a show with my husband. Running, reading and TV are how I relax. (And thank goodness for recording/downloading devices or else we'd never see any of the new shows out there!)

As my daughter turns 2, overall, I don't regret my decision to be a working mother. I think she is getting a great thing by interacting with other children 4 days a week and learning how to be a little independent. I get to do a job I love and interact with creative people to produce a quality product. As you can see, it is super hectic on weekdays, so I can't deny I sometimes think about how being a SAHM might be an option if we have another kiddo. Daycare for 2 here in NOVA is insane and might not financially make sense. I dream of a day when I don't have to coordinate with my job, husband, daughter and dog just to get a run in during the week. I also think I'd enjoy doing all those fun kid activities I see on Pinterest. And after doing the mommy thing once, I'd like to think the second time might be a little smoother since I might actually know what I'm doing - at least a little.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pregnancy and Peeing Rocks

Anyone who has been pregnant will be able to relate to this.

I am a desert creature. Like, I never drink water. Ever. I MAYBE drink 2 cups of coffee, have a soda, and a glass of water in a day. And that's kind of stretching it. I just don't required liquids. I'm never thirsty.

When I got pregnant with Avery, Troy was pushing fluids on me. Like huge. Constantly refilling my water. Making me chug a whole glass 1x every 30 minutes on weekends. He would stand there and stare at me while I finished it and immediately go and refill it. It was awful. I just felt so full all the time. And for whatever reason, I find going to the bathroom annoying and disruptive. I'm weird. I know.

Well, as a result of me working full time while I was pregnant, Troy only got the chance to chase me around with cups of water from 5-10pm on weekdays. Which ensured that he was making me drink about 6-8 glasses of water in 5 hours. Which equated to me getting up to pee ALL NIGHT LONG. Like 4-6 times a night.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I could barely make it to the toilet before the pressure of the baby on my bladder would just push it out with so much force it kind of sounded like a water hose.

One night it was particularly bad. I had already been up to pee a couple of times and I got up again. Sure enough, there goes Troy's mouth again:

Troy: WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE!?!?!? PEEING ROCKS? Geez, it sounds like an avalanche. Could you be any louder?

Natalie: Are you kidding right now? You did this to me.

He didn't remember it the next day either.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Got E.Coli

This is an appropriate post for today, seeing as I called out sick from work. I'm coughing up green and brown stuff and I have blisters in the back of my throat. I figured I shouldn't spread that around. But seriously...I hate being sick and I HATE calling out from work. It makes me feel unreliable and useless.

Troy and I got married in June of 2007. He went active duty in November of 2007 and reported to Dover. He went to logistics training school in Texas from the first week in January until the end of April. I was still in grad school and so I went to visit him in Texas for my spring break in March.

I was so excited to go visit and we were having a great week. We visited with Rob and Cynthia and did some San Antonio sightseeing on the Riverwalk. When he was in class during the day, I would go to the gym, watch movies, and hang out in the room. Sometimes Troy would come back for lunch and sometimes not.

This particular day, I had a PB & J sandwich for lunch by myself in the room. Troy felt bad and picked up a pizza on his way home and we had spinach salads for dinner. We ate picnic style on the floor of our hotel room and watched a movie.

I apparently did two no-nos that day. I ate peanut butter and spinach.

That night, around 2am, I woke up with HORRIBLE stomach and abdominal pains. I ended up in the bathroom SICK SICK SICK. So sorry for the mental image, but I was sitting on the toilet and throwing up in the trash can. I knew that Troy had to get up early the next morning at 5am for PT and I was trying to be quiet. But sometimes, when your insides are coming out of both ends, it's hard to be quiet.

I had been in the bathroom for about an hour when Troy stuck his head in the bathroom door and immediately pulled it back out. Traumatized, I'm sure.

Troy: Um, what's going on?

Natalie: I've been sick for about an hour.

Troy: I know. Can you keep in down in there? I have to get up soon.

Seriously...that happened. Never mind that we had been married less than a year and I was HORRIFIED that Troy had caught me in such a vulnerable and delicate position.

Troy ended up going to PT and class and leaving me sitting on the toilet. Don't worry...he changed the trash can bag for me. I sat there from about 2 am to 8 am. My legs had been asleep for about 4 hours.

Troy got permission to skip class for the rest of the day to take me to the ER. Let me tell you, throwing up in the waiting room of the ER 4 times is a quick ticket back to triage. They DO NOT want to keep cleaning up barf...or have people complaining about the smell and retching sound. I was seen almost immediately because I was throwing up 10+ times per hour.

The doctor told me that I had gotten it from the spinach or the peanut butter. So sad. It was definitely a test in our marriage. Troy has since learned to be nicer to me when I'm sick :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Taking My (School) Work Home

I was fortunately enough to be able to complete my fieldwork placements for OT school in Delaware, where Troy was stationed, so that we could be together.

During my second fieldwork, I was working at an acute rehab facility. About halfway through my 3 months there, a man came in named Jesse and he was only 34 years old. He had a devastating stroke and lost function on the right side of his body. He had young kids at home and a super supportive wife. He was a mechanic. He was originally supposed to be there for 3 weeks, but he had been making such great gains, that his insurance kept approving him for more time.

My heart really went out for him and I was very motivated to read research and try new things. I felt like my mind was constantly at work and I was thinking about how to adapt things and teach him how to be more independent when I was home.

One night, I woke up to Troy yelling at me...I was doing something crazy again.

Jesse was having crazy emerging tone in his shoulder, elbow, and wrist.

I had decided that I was going to do some range of motion on Jesse in the middle of the night and stretch out his upper body. And Troy was not so cool with that.

I literally woke up kneeling on the edge of the bed with Troy on his back and me ranging Troy's shoulder.

It was a little jarring. Troy thought I was craaaaaazy. Crazy dedicated. I came out of it immediately and was like "sorry, I thought you were someone else." Oh, ya think??

He said it had been going on for about 2 minutes before he was able to wake me. He always worries that I'll have post traumatic stress from a "sleep walking" incident if he wakes me up. So far so good.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, Can We Get a Round of Applause for a Stay at Home Dad and a Working Momma!?!? There's Nothing Like a Modern Family to Make my Heart Go Pitter-Patter!

This is another couple that was brought into our friday saga of stay at home parenting and the working parents by Ellen. I am going to continue to call this series "The Mommy Chronicles," but this couple spoke so eloquently about traditional role reversals in the home, that I considered changing it. Stay at home dads aren't getting enough credit and I think that this living situation is becoming more and more common.

This is a long one, but a good one. I found this the most interesting of all the posts so far because their situation could be considered "taboo" by a family following what would be considered "traditional" roles in the home. Fortunately for all of us, times are a-changing and I was FASCINATED by this. Riveted even.

The working momma is in regular type and the working from home/stay at home dad is in bold italicized type. Their story alternates back and forth on each topic and you can just feel their support for one another ooze out of the screen. They were an absolute JOY to read.

I am not your typical working mom. My work week begins on Wednesday afternoon. I work from 2:00 in the afternoon until 10:00 at night. I commute an hour each way so I'm out of the house by 12:45 and I don't get home until just after 11:00 P.M. Thursday and Friday I work the same shift. Saturday is the hardest and longest day. I get up at 3:30 A.M. to get ready for work and I'm out of the house before 5:00. I usually get home around 3:00 P.M., at which point I have to go right to bed because I have to be at work again by 11:00 P.M. I work overnight until 7:00 A.M. on Sunday morning and that's when my weekend begins. My other job is being a mom.

I’m a work from home dad and, unlike most structured jobs where there is a definitive start and end to the workday and workweek, my job is essentially 24/7; all day, everyday. On the flipside, there could be a day where there is literally nothing to do at all. I’m the lead editor for a website called Gaming Examiner and I have the good luck to be able to do this from my home office. A typical day consists of my getting up at 7AM, working until Laura leaves for work, and depending on the day of the week, I either transition seamlessly into the nanny arriving (where I will eat a quick lunch and return to work), or I will watch my daughter for a couple of hours until the nanny arrives. Both my job and being a dad take up most of my day.

Working isn't my first choice but it's a commitment that I made years before becoming a mom and I know I have a responsibility to my family. I am an air traffic controller. So is my dad. When I graduated from college I had no direction and my fiance and I were working just to make ends meet. My dad came to us with the news that the FAA was hiring through a job fair that they were holding and he recommended that one of us (or both) apply for the job. Knowing that my fiance and I wanted to have kids and that it was important that our children have one parent in the house when they were growing up, we came to an agreement that one of us would apply for the job and the other would uphold a promise later in life to stay home - working or not - to raise babies. That is how I came to be a working mom.

Prior to having our daughter work (outside of the home) was just a normal part of my life. I’ve been working full time since I was a child. My parents owned a neighborhood grocery store and my life consisted of school, work, sports, homework, sleep, repeat. It wasn’t a choice; working was just something I did. As a result, even after my parents lost their business, the natural course of action for me was to just find another job. I bookended jobs, all the way until just prior to the birth of our daughter. The interesting thing is, when Laura’s dad approached us with the job fair opportunity, it was originally meant for me. It was always understood that I would be the one that would possibly one day be an air traffic controller. However, the more I thought about it, and with a real opportunity in front of me, the more I felt this job wasn’t for me. Now, years and years later, after hearing all the stories about Laura’s workplace, I am SO GLAD I didn’t do it. Let’s just say that it takes a certain, ah....”personality” to be an air traffic controller.

My husband, Tony, and I were cautioned about the strain that this kind of role reversal can put on a marriage. I'm not going to lie - it's HARD! Every Tuesday I get a little sad because I know that I have to go to back to work the next day. Ironically, good family weekends make me the saddest. I just remind myself that I'm lucky enough that I'm good at my job, I enjoy it, and that the income will provide many advantages for my family. Likewise, Tony knows that he gets special bonding time with his daughter that not a lot of dads (or moms, myself included) get. Tony and I have had to remind ourselves that we're both making sacrifices and, honestly, we couldn't do this any other way.

We were cautioned by some people that a role reversal with me staying at home and Laura working in a testosterone fueled, Type A workplace could potentially be a disaster. If I remember correctly, we were even told that many similar situations didn’t work out and resulted in divorce. Of course, Laura and I took all that with an air of “Well, it won’t happen to US.” And you know what? It hasn’t. I think regardless of the equalization between the roles of males and females in today’s society, there is still quite a bit of eyebrow raising when a father chooses to stay at home and a mother chooses to be the primary breadwinner. It still seems that a SAHD gets branded with the “Lazy bum who can’t won’t find a real job” stigma, and the working mom tends to have her qualities as a mother questioned with the whole “You would choose your career over your child?” stereotype. Pretty hypocritical, if you ask me.

A year into having a child, I am starting to love doing it, but it wasn’t always this way. For the longest time, my time at home was mired in paralyzing fear. It was bad times. I love my daughter, but MAN, I hated being “stuck” at home with her. Everything that could possibly go wrong would run through my head, and that was no way to live. And yes, the role reversal, regardless of how OK with it we both said we were, always seemed to rear it’s head and become a problem.

When we found out that I was pregnant we looked at our finances and decided that we wanted and needed a part time nanny. Tony was just finishing up online courses in video game design and was hoping to work from home. He needed someone that could free up a few hours in the afternoon so that he could study and work. I needed someone that could help Tony learn the ropes of being a parent. So we have a wonderful nanny that comes to our house Wed, Thur, and Fri afternoon as well as Sat morning. She has her own daughter, just a few months older than our own, and she has been a great help. My dad and stepmom live nearby and help too, although not nearly as often as they probably would like (which I'm working to rectify).

I love our nanny and her daughter as a member of our own family. Not only do I get to watch my own daughter grow up and hit all those awesome developmental milestones, but I also get to watch the nanny’s daughter as well. As a matter of fact, I believe that since our little girl gets to watch someone a few months older than herself do all these new things, it has accelerated her development, for better or worse, lol.

As a government employee I don't pay into disability. Therefore I had to use FMLA leave to take time off at my baby's birth and I had to use annual and sick leave in order to get paid for that time off. I had the choice of taking 3 or 4 months off but having no leave left over, or taking a shorter period of time off and then working part time to conserve the remaining leave I had. I chose the second option. This served many purposes. First, it allowed me to put off full time work as long as possible. Second, it saved leave for potential emergencies, sick days, or doctor visits. Third, it eased Tony into the role of work-from-home dad. My first day back at work was hard. I cried almost the entire drive in. The last time that I had made the commute I'd been pregnant. I felt lonely that first drive back. I was missing a part of me and I knew that missing piece was back at home. Luckily, air traffic control is the type of job that requires constant attention. I found that the more time I spent staying distracted with work, the better I was. Things were easier on the second day and got better from there.

When the baby was first born and Laura was on maternity leave, the reality of having a baby hadn’t really set in cliche as that may sound. I think the first 2 months were still part of being in a comfort zone for me, since Laura was home all the time. Our daughter would basically, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, poop, etc. It was honestly pretty easy...for me, anyway. As it became increasingly clearer that Laura’s return to work was coming up, I started to get more and more nervous. In fact, I remember the first time I was left alone with the baby; Laura had left the house to get her hair done; no more than 2 hours max. I basically held my daughter the whole time while sitting in my office chair, not moving and silently panicking to myself. It didn’t help that Laura’s first night back to work, after I had spent a bathtime where my sweet girl pooped, peed, and vomited on me all at the same time, I had some uninvited guests drop by who wanted to see the baby...and they woke her up. It took me three hours to get her back down after they left. I think mentally, that set the tone for the next few months, and I had a hard time stepping away from this whole experience as a negative.

What do I love about working? I love that I get a break from things at home. This was especially true when we were navigating things like sleep training and introducing solids. I use the time to step back from our home environment to clear my mind and rethink our approach to present hurdles that we're facing with raising a baby. I think about things like meal plans and paying bills. What do I hate about it? Well, up until a month ago my first answer would have been: pumping. Now...? My heart is at home. While I appreciate the adult interaction that I get at work and the opportunity to do something unique and specialized, I sometimes feel like I get too wrapped up in trivial things. The squabbles and complications that occur from working with other people take up a lot of my mental energy. It's not worth it and yet I still get sucked in. I'm still very domestic so I hate being at work when I know that there is so much to do at home.

My work situation is pretty awesome, to be honest. I get to do something I love for a living, and I get to do it 10 feet away from my daughter. At any given moment, I can hear her in the living room playing or jabbering a bunch of nonsense. If she starts crying or screaming, I can be right there for her, even though I know that’s what we’re paying the nanny for. I get to make her lunch everyday, and her breakfasts and dinners a few night of the week as well. Overall, it’s a really nice position to be in, and I’m very lucky to be able to do this.

If I could, I would switch roles with my husband in a heartbeat. He knows that I feel that way too. During one difficult period I told him that I would take the leap - move to a lower cost of living area, give up my job and all the advantages it offers, and support his decision to work out of the house. He said I was being silly. In another life Tony would work at a job that he LOVES and I would stay at home and have as many babies as I could. I would cook awesome and healthy meals. I would always have the clean laundry folded and put away. I would take my dog for long runs and have playdates and my kids would see their grandparents many times during the course of the week. I would be home to take my kids to swim class and I wouldn't have to negotiate shift swaps to get the day off so that I could see their soccer games or piano recitals.

As much as I like my current situation, if I were presented with a job outside of the home where I made enough money for Laura to leave her job, I’m not sure I would take it as quickly as some may think I would. I’m in no hurry to get out of the house. I don’t feel I need to get a “real job,” I have one already; in fact, I have 2. Sure I may not make all that much, and it’s not a traditional job where I must commute and punch in and out with a time card, but quite frankly, I spent the bulk of my life doing that, and I don’t see how there’s that much more pride in doing that than doing what I do. I get to do my job and be there all day for my daughter. How many dads can claim that? Even if I weren’t the lead editor of Gaming Examiner, I would still have to think long and hard about switching back to the more “traditional” roles. After a year of being at home with my little girl, could I really switch to a life where I only saw her a few hours a day? I don’t think I could. However, to allow my wife to be an at-home mom, since I know how much she wants to do it, I would make the change in a heartbeat. But the money would have to be right.

I don't live in that life, though. So I make the most of this one. Sunday morning, before I get off of work, I take a nap so that I'm rested for my drive home. When I arrive home I'm on baby duty. I give her breakfast and put her down for a morning nap. I do some light cleaning and the grocery shopping. I give my daughter her lunch and get her strapped into the jogging stroller so she can go running with the dog and me. I put her down for her afternoon nap and I'm ready to play when she wakes up. I feed her dinner, give her a bath, and put her to bed. I make dinner for my hubby and myself and we spend time together before bed. I wake up Monday and Tuesday ready to do my mom job. I love my mom job. I knew what sacrifice I was making and I promised myself that I would make the most of every minute that I had at home with my little girl. Sometimes I get caught up in trying to multitask but I try to remember my priorities, which is my family. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we wake up together as a family. Tony goes straight to the office to work and the dog, baby, and I go for a run. I come home and make breakfast while she plays and watches Baby Einstein and then we all eat together. Tony gets back to work, she goes down for a nap and I get ready for work. This is my favorite time of day - my "me" time. I take a long bath. A long, warm, relaxing bath where I jump on my phone to chat with my mom friends while I sip coffee. It's awesome.

Some of my coworkers scoff at the life that Tony and I have chosen. I work in a predominantly male environment and they don't understand how I "let" Tony stay at home. Despite my efforts to explain the arrangement and stress that this was an important issue that Tony and I agreed on, they still have a hard time understanding it. They also don't understand what Tony has to go through. Nobody does. He has his own issues as a new dad, a work-from-home dad, with his own insecurities, concerns, and issues to deal with. It's just as controversial an issue as the stay-at-home/working mom issue so I deal with hearing a LOT of opinions. Interestingly enough, my co workers hardly ever question my "choice" to work. What I think that it all really comes down to, is that moms and dads have to examine their own lives and make decisions that best fit their family. I don't think that being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom is ever the universal "right" answer. Likewise, I think that a lot of parents make the harder decision (whether it's to stay at home or go to work) because they are setting aside their own personal desires in order to do what's best for the young people that they chose to bring into this world. I don't get offended when people say things regarding the question of staying at home because they are making a generalization for something that can't possibly apply to all people. They don't know me and they don't have to live my life so they are welcome to their opinions and I will continue to enjoy my long baths, morning runs, and my little girl's smiles while I move planes, clean the litterbox, and cook dinners. It really is a wonderful life.

I think Laura’s co workers scoff at my situation due to the freedom that I have with my job to basically make my own hours and to do so out of the comfort of my own home. Perhaps they think because I’m not constrained to working for “the man” that what I do isn’t respectable; I don’t know. I’d be lying if I said their opinions didn’t bug me because after all this time, the opinions of others, whether I know these people or not, still matter to me. I think mostly what bugs me is the underlying accusation that not going outside of the home to work somehow makes me less of a man, and worse, less of a father. Like somehow, because the circumstances worked out to where I get to work from home, that I’m less of a father because I don’t “provide for my family.” I’m well aware of the fact that there are better paying jobs out there for me. What many people don’t know is that I wouldn’t be any happier, and the costs of daycare just wouldn’t be worth it. I don’t want someone else raising my daughter; I want to raise my daughter. With all due respect, and no offense to anyone else, but I do not trust a single other person to raise my child.

The decision to work or stay at home is a very difficult one, and one that affects both parents equally, though in different ways. Like Laura said, there isn’t any universal “right” decision except for the one that works for you. I mean, look at how many factors play into our situation, and yet, we’re both still here and happy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Troy Punched Me. Twice.

You read that right.

This is completely innocent. Really.

Troy and I read in bed every night. 99% of the time I am reading for about 30 minutes to an hour after he is done and he is falling asleep next to me.

I'm not really sure how common this is for other people, but Troy is a twitcher. Like, when he is falling asleep, his WHOLE body jerks a little bit. I have been told that people who are really active (or a runner, like Troy) have the twitches when they fall asleep because it's their body's way of "calming down." Troy does it REALLY bad when he's particularly exhausted.

One night, I was reading on my back with my book resting on my chest and Troy was snuggled up to my shoulder on his side facing me. He had his hands up by his face. All of a sudden his right elbow twitches and goes into extension...RIGHT INTO MY FACE.

Natalie: DAMN IT TROY!!!

Troy: Huh, what?


Troy: Huh? Sorry, I love you.

Troy settles back in and I rub my jaw, but keep on reading. Sure enough, ten minutes later...

WHACK!! Right in the jaw.


Troy: Huh? Baby, I love you so much.

Natalie: NO! Don't try and snuggle me. You'll just kick me next time.

Troy: You are so mean.

Natalie: YOU punched ME!

Troy rolls over. And falls back asleep.

He doesn't remember ANY of this in the morning...

Anyone else have a twitchy spouse while they fall asleep? Anyone?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Troy Peed In My Purse

You read that right.

Troy and I had been married for less than 6 months. We got married in June of 2007 and he didn't go active duty until November. I was in my first year of grad school and had signed a lease to live with 2 roommates before we had even gotten engaged. SO Troy and I lived with 2 roommates our first 6 months we were married in a tiny apartment with 1 bathroom in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was AWESOME. I LOVE LOVE LOVED that apartment.

I'm pretty sure the night before was really low key. We had gone out to dinner with some friends and come home and had game night or something. Aka...this occurred and NO alcohol was involved. This is an important detail to mention because the next morning, I got up and wanted to upload my pictures from the night before off my digital camera onto my computer. For some reason, I had dropped my purse (it was smaller) into a giant tote bag that I used for school/gym/whatever when we got home the night before. It was a GIANT canvas tote bag.

I reached into the giant tote bag and started to sift through the contents of my purse and my hand was wet when I pulled my camera out. My camera had liquid dripping out of it. I looked up at the ceiling to see if it was leaking. Nothing. My bag was RIGHT underneath the wall of windows in my room so I looked to see if it was open/leaking. Nothing. I checked to see if my tote bag had an open water bottle in it. Nothing.

Now that I know it was pee, I am dreading writing this next part...

I lifted my purse out of the tote bag and started emptying the contents onto the floor so that I could separate them to dry out. I set everything on a towel and took the battery/memory card out of my camera. I took all of the cards and money out of my wallet. And I started SMELLING everything. Trying to figure out what had possibly ruined my camera and wallet.

Troy heard me shuffling around and woke up asking me what I was doing.

Troy: Babe, what are doing?

Natalie: I have water all over the inside of my school bag. I set my purse in there last night and everything is SOAKING wet.

Troy: That's weird...

Natalie: Nothing is leaking the the floor all around my bag is soaked and I'm gonna be pissed if my camera doesn't work anymore.

A few hours go by and one of our roommates, gets up and sees the contents of my purse drying on the floor.

Curt: What are you doing?

Natalie: My purse is soaked and I have NO idea what happened.

Curt: Really...hmm. Where is Troy's bathroom at home? Or in his last apartment?

Natalie: What do you mean?

Curt: Like in relation to his bed. Where is the bathroom?

(I gesture and explain)

Curt: Well there were some guys in my dorm freshman year who would get up in the middle of the night, kind of sleep walking, and they would walk to where their bathroom was at home and just pee wherever they wound up.

He gave me a moment to let it sink in.

Curt: Apparently guys get disoriented and aren't all the way awake and just pee where they think their bathroom is.

Troy is listening.

Troy: Oh no. There were a couple guys who did that in my dorm freshman year. One guy actually lifted the screen on his roommates laptop, like a toilet seat, and peed right onto the keys. Another guy peed into his laundry hamper...

Natalie: OMG. Are you saying that THIS IS PEE???

Curt says nothing both of the guys and start laughing.

Troy confirmed that this scenario is a real possibility. He thinks about it for a few hours and says that it's very very likely that this is what happened.

Troy peed in my purse, thinking it was his toilet at his apartment from bag was located in the EXACT same spot as the relationship from his bed to the bathroom.

And that's how my very first digital camera was ruined. So sad...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Troy Drunk Dialed My Parents...More than Once

We are in the midst of a series about "Middle of the Night Weirdness that Doesn't Include Sleeping, or THAT."

You can read about me seeing a ghost here.

This one includes a drunk dial to my parents. When we were in college, Troy made the grave mistake of putting my name in his phone with 2 categories underneath my name and he had to select which number he wanted to call.

1. My house phone
2. My cell phone

There were several instances where Troy accidentally called my parents (aka my house phone) on a friday or saturday night between 0100 and 0500 in the morning. Waking up my parents and resulting in some VEEERY awkward conversations. It's an honest mistake, really.

Troy and I would go out with our friends and whenever we got home, we would call each other before bed on weekends.

These awkward call-Natalie's-parents-instead-of-Natalie happened about a 2-3 times in one school year. My poor parents. Luckily for Troy, they didn't mind too much and they still laugh about it now.

*ring ring, ring ring*

My stepdad: hello?

(no mind that a man answered the phone, Troy didn't notice)

Troy: Hey baby, I love you so much. I miss you. I wish I was there.

My stepdad: Troy...

Troy: Natalie?

My stepdad: Troy.

Troy: Who is this?

My stepdad: You did it again.

Troy: Ooooh sorry. How are you?

My stepdad: We're sleeping. It's 0427 am.

Troy: Ooooh sorry.

My stepdad: Be safe. Have fun. Talk to you later.

Troy: Ooooh sorry, sir. Have a good night.

Needless to say, after this happened about 3 times, Troy deleted my parents phone number COMPLETELY out of his phone. When was hilarious because sometimes he'd need to call them (because who memorizes phone numbers anymore when you have a cell phone) and he would call me to give him they're phone number. You know, because he deleted it to avoid an awkward drunk dial with my parents. Again.

The good news is, they LOVE him and gave him their blessing when he wanted to marry me :) I got me a winner.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Things that Happen While We're Sleeping...NOT THAT!

Seeing as it is the week of Valentine's Day, I thought we could re-live some of the sweet things that have happened between Troy and me during our dating history/marriage. So, I sat down with Troy to start brainstorming, and here's the thing: We couldn't come up with anything blog-worthy. Fortunately for you all, we came up with plenty of things that happened that were ridiculous. The funny thing is, they ALL HAPPENED at night. When one or both of us should have been sleeping. Get your mind out of the gutter.

So we came up with the 10 things that happened at night, NOT involving sleeping. They're in chronological order, so the first event occurred when we were in college, the first year I lived off campus in an apartment.

Troy had come to visit me for the weekend and we had had a low key evening. We went to bed like normal and went to sleep. I also have to mention that this story is COMPLETELY told to me by Troy. I don't remember ANYTHING because I was sleeping. Even the next morning...I got nothing. Troy says that I talk in my sleep all the time, but this was one of the weirder/freakier times.

Troy says that everything was fine, and all was quiet in the apartment. He woke up because he had a "weird feeling." He noticed that I was sitting up in bed, awake (meaning my eyes were open) and I was staring across the room, above the closed door of my bedroom.

Troy: (talking in a normal voice) Natalie, what's wrong? Are you okay?

Natalie: (whispering) Shhhhhhhh

Troy: Do you have a headache?

Natalie: Shhhhhh. She'll hear you.

Troy: WHAT?! Who?

Natalie: The girl.

Troy: WHAT GIRL!?!? What are you talking about??

Natalie: There's a girl in the doorway. She's watching us. Shhhhh.

Troy: WHAT IS GOING ON? Are you okay? There's no one there. Stop.

Natalie: (suddenly loses the glazed look in eye and looks over at Troy) Huh? What are you talking about? Night night.

Troy was left sitting up in bed, completely freaked out that I had just been used as a medium in my apartment. He couldn't fall back asleep. I have no recollection of this, but every once in a while, we will be settling into bed, reading or whatever, and Troy will go, "there's a girl in the door." I jump about 6 inches off the mattress every time. Jerk.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Hi Avery!"

So either Avery doesn't know her name or she thinks that everyone else's name is Avery. I guess the third possibility is that we (and everyone else) always say "Hi, Avery!"

Here is a prime example:

I am going in to get Avery this morning to go to a doctor's appointment.

Me: Good Morning Avery!

Avery: Hi, Avery!

Me: Hi, Avery!

Avery: Hi, Avery!

Me: Hi, Mommy!

Avery: Hi, Avery!

Ok, this ^^^^ is counterproductive.

Then I took Avery to a friend's house to watch her while I went to a doctor's appointment. We walk in the front door.

Katie: Hi, Avery!

Avery: Hi, Avery!

Natalie: Say "Hi, Mrs. Katie!"

Avery: Hi, Avery!

Then I'm getting ready to leave.

Natalie: Okay, Mommy is going bye-bye.

Avery: Bye, Avery!

I laugh.

Apparently she thinks that "Hi, Avery" and "Bye, Avery" are the everyday greetings and goodbyes for everyone, regardless of their names or titles. We're going to have to work on that one.

Working Momma #2: She Gives Great Imagery...

After my friend Ellen wrote a post a few weeks ago, some of her friends were inspired to get in touch and share their stories. And this one had me laughing hard. The picture in my head of her trying to use a breast pump at work had my stomach hurting from laughing. Because I HAVE BEEN THERE! SO funny. This girl is SO personable and seems like someone that could anyone's friend.

Thanks for contributing, I know that your story will get some laughs and touch someone's heart.

Hi, My name is Mel and I am a full-time working mother of 2. My son Hunter is 9years old and my daughter Peyton is 1 year old. I rub naked people for a living, AKA I'm a massage therapist and I work in a Chiropractic Clinic. I see 30 patients a week, from monday to friday. And it is very physically stressful on my body, so most nights I come home exhausted. If I had my choice, I would stay home with my kids, but unfortunately we need two incomes to afford our mortgage and other bills. I love coming home and getting kisses and hugs from both kids. I work until 7:30pm so when I get home, I have about an hour to eat dinner and play with my kiddos before I nurse Peyton to sleep. It's tough when I only get to see them for a couple hours a day and I used to enjoy my job because i was helping people. Now I just think about how much I'm missing out on their childhood because I have to be away at work and it makes me bitter.

Pumping at work has been....well... frustrating to say the least. I hate it. And it's not the actual process I hate, it's more the constant disappointment I experience. I took 3 months of maternity leave and had no issues with supply at all, but as soon as I went back to work and started pumping, my supply had completely dropped. I've tried fenugreek, Motherlove capsules, Mothers milk tea, and eating lactation cookies along with TONS of water all day. In my job, I get 2 - 15 minute breaks to pump. To say it's stressful is an understatement. I would have a patient waiting for me to finish pumping right outside my massage room (where I was pumping) and I would feel the pressure to both hurry up for the patient and to also produce enough milk for my daughter. YIKES! There were also a few times when my pump would "queef" on my boob.... and I KNEW my patient heard it....ayayaya, so embarrassing! In the end I've made it 13 months, and am just now starting to supplement with some cow's milk, so I have some comfort knowing that even though it was stressful and hard to keep up with, this full-time working mother managed to feed my daughter breast milk for 13 months.

During the day I'm lucky to have the best babysitter ever... Grandma! My mom retired from her job to be Peyton's primary caregiver while I'm at work. We pay her $800/mo. She also picks Hunter up from school and gets him started on homework. I'm truly fortunate to have someone I trust watching my kids when I can't be there.

My kids are my life. Nothing makes me happier than being with them. When I had Hunter, I was only 21. I was in serious survival mode and I feel like I kind of missed out on Hunters baby/toddlerhood because I was just trying not to "mess up" and get through it. Now that I'm 30, I'm a lot more comfortable and really try to take the time to enjoy every moment. Watching Peyton grow and reach her milestones has been so rewarding. On the weekends we love to play with toys, watch movies together, go to the park, the mall, or Target. Peyton started walking like a champ about a month ago, so we will go somewhere big like Home Depot and just let her explore (under supervision of course). Our current favorite thing to do is have "picnics." Peyton got a play picnic basket with fake food for Christmas and she loves to give us the plates, cups, and fake food over and over while we pretend to eat it. I love the way she jibber jabbers and the way that my son and her play hide and seek (Peyton always seeks, of course). We also love reading books and putting puzzles together. Peyton loves to carry around her giraffe puzzle piece and put him on the chair or her Little Tikes Rider. Just watching her is entertainment.

I always tell my husband, when he gets an awesome paying position that makes enough money, or when we win the lotto (sigh), I'm quitting my job and staying home with the kiddos. I'm sure I would have those moments of needing adult time and time out of the house, but that is truly my dream job. Full time mommy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fertility Update - Follistim, Needles, and Happy Side Effects

Are you ready for more girl words? WARNING WARNING! You are about to enter a female zone. If you need to get all caught up, here is my first post about our family growth and fertility issues. Go ahead...I'll wait...

Are you back now?

Okay, so I got my period on January 30th. On day 3 of my period I went in for an ultrasound, where my doctor took measurements of my ovaries (I had a big cyst on my left one) and pointed out eggs that were naturally forming and maturing, even though they never release and form cysts :( I also got blood work done, where they are monitoring my estrogen and follicle stimulating hormone.

This is the pen. The needles twists on to the end (they are in the pink containers) and then the part at the other end twists up to select the dosage.

I then had to sit down for 45 minutes of education on my medication, called Follistim. She showed me how to load my medications into the pen, attach the needles, set the dosage, and inject myself. It is also important to mention that Troy was home with Avery during this whole appointment. I was shown how to remove the needles and put them in the sharps container. It's actually really, really easy to use.

So on friday I started my injections. I was told to do them in the evenings. Because of Troy's schedule, he was asleep from the time I got home from my appointment (around 11) and was SUPPOSED to sleep until about 8.

Now you wouldn't know it because of my obscene amount of earrings, but I am deathly afraid of needles. I hate getting my blood drawn, getting shots, etc. HATE. But I can tolerate it because I'm not PUNCTURING MY OWN SKIN. I thought I could handle the injections because, y'all, those needles are TINY. Like really, really thin and only an inch long.

So, just like nurse Heather showed me, I loaded up the pen with my medication dosage and attached the needle. I twisted the pen cap up to the right dosage and grabbed a hunk of my right saddle bag and counted to three.

NOPE. I tried again. NOPE. I COULD NOT DO IT! I started shaking. And crying. This is ridiculous. I have given my mom her arthritis shots before and I have give PPD/TB tests to my mom also. WHY can I not inject myself?? The answer is this: I do not want to watch my skin dimple in under the pressure of the needle and then pierce my skin. I just can't. I can't. This is coming from the mom who laughed while her daughter got her blood drawn...

So what did I do? I woke up Troy. My needle was loaded and starting to drip. I walked up to him in bed with a loaded needle and no pants on. So awkward. He was like, "ohhhhh yeah." Then he saw the needle in my hand and he was like, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?"

He eventually heave-hoed his butt out of bed and followed me downstairs to give me the shot, not without making fun of me first. He got ready to stick me in the hip and was all "ummmm do you need to clean this? Do I spit on it? What's up?" And I was like "OH NOOOOOOOO I HAVE ALCOHOL WIPES!!!"

From the time I loaded my meds in to this point, it had probably been 10 minutes. I'm seriously pathetic. Anyway, Troy gave me the injection and all was fine.

I took the medication at a 150 (no idea what the dose measurement was) friday, saturday, sunday, and monday night. Tuesday morning, I went in for a follow up ultrasound and blood work. My right ovary had about 10 eggs on it and my left had like 4. My doctor said it was totally normal for 1 side to produce more than the other. Nurse Heather said that she would call me later that day with the results of my blood work and let me know what dosage of my meds to take.

I got home and Troy and I took a cycling class. I know, I can't believe it either. I'm enjoying it, shocking me the most of all :)

Which brings me to the next thing. SIDE EFFECTS. I think that this whole "polycystic ovary" thing is royally messing with my hormones. I mean, I know it is...but really... Okay, I've been taking this medication for 4 days. I seriously feel like a new person. I don't want to say my "baseline mood" is awful...but most days, I would say that my mood dial is set to "bitchy" and on good days on "grumpy." I feel so patient, more relaxed, and just more optimistic in general. It makes me think that I live in a constant state of PMS and that somehow, not ovulating every month is an indication of a hormone imbalance that is causing me to be a bitch. I don't want to say that I am using my hormones as an excuse to be a bitch, but in general, the past 5 days have made me feel like a MILLION DOLLARS. Troy and I have talked about it, and it's definitely something that we are going to ask about later. Or at my next appointment. Like if there is a hormone replacement (that's not an antidepressant) that I can take whenever we are done having kids.

ANYWAY...tangent over.

So Nurse Heather called me back for my blood work results and my FSH levels were through the roof. They told me to back my dosage of meds off from 150 to 75. Troy was like "NOOOOOOOOOO, does this mean you're going to be 50% as happy as you've been the past 5 days??"

I have another follow up on friday morning to look at my ovaries, see how many eggs have fully matured (the goal is 3-5 eggs) and then they will tell me when to take the trigger shot (that makes the eggs actually drop).

So you all can keep praying for us.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Mommy Chronicles: WORKING MOMMA #1

I am SO enthused to have our very first working mom.

This is one of my very best girlfriends. And one of the hardest workers I know. Her family has been through so much in the past year. She had problems with her pregnancy, her husband got laid off, Bayleigh has had TONS of digestive issues since birth, and she is working 2 jobs right now. I cannot even tell you how much I admire her commitment to her family and her hard work. In a world where so many people feel entitled to things, she goes out and works for them. I literally could not respect her more for everything she has put up with. And yet, she still thanks God everyday for her blessings.

I just love her...

Without further ado, here is Jess:

I never wanted to be a stay at home mom, heck I barely wanted to consider kids until I was married and my internal clock started ticking. Even then I wanted to be the working mom who coached soccer, and was a part of the PTA. I wanted to be that mom that everyone else said, “Wow, she works and is involved with her children’s lives?! How does she do it?”. Except, now that I have a baby, I want that stay at home mom life. I want to snuggle with her and read books for hours. I want to feed her breakfast, lunch, dinner and all of the snacks in between…

I have been having an internal debate with myself whether to participate in the Mommy Chronicles or to let it slide by and read about everyone else’s' lives, knowing full well that everyone is happy go lucky and does not want to hear about my crappy working mom life. I don’t think I have much to contribute to the blog, but with Natalie's persistence; I decided that I might be able to reach out to the other working moms reading these weekly blogs.

My husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby around the time we lost a very dear friend in a tragic accident. With his death and thinking that something similar could happen to him left us thinking, what would I have to keep of him if a fate such as this fell upon him? The best way to leave a legacy behind is a child, so we immediately started trying. My family knows that I was never really good with kids, animals were my calling, but my mommy alarms started going off and I had to have a baby. We all had our doubts as to how it was going to work, if I was going to be a natural or have to try really hard, or if I was going to melt under the pressure. I was a VERY lucky person and was pregnant within two weeks of coming off of birth control and beginning to track my ovulation (we both wanted to shoot for a girl)... I found out at 5 weeks that I was pregnant, but we kept it low key until Thanksgiving.

Pregnancy was not easy, we were constantly being told that different things weren't appearing normal, I saw a perinatalogist on top of my regular OB, I was in a car accident at week 26 and spent a whole day in L & D. I was put on bed rest around week 32 and left to keep track of my blood pressure and constantly worrying if my daughter was getting enough fluid and growing properly. I had numerous NS test, but I still worked and tracked my blood pressure every hour, if it was elevated; I had to lie down on the floor until things settled down. It was horrifying and just plain exhausting.

When my water broke 9 days before my due date, I actually didn't know it had broken... I guess I should explain. My dog had been very sick that week, so I was taking her to and from the vet to stay hooked up to IVs during the day and home with me at night. The last morning that I went to take her, I thought I had peed my pants on my way into the shower so I shook it off and finished my morning routine. When I got to work, I did the normal 8 hour shift with slight "leaking," but the OB nurse said that is typical 3rd trimester stuff (peeing your pants). My sister was joking around about getting this baby out before she went out of town and she was bringing Castrol oil over that night. When I finally got home, I was in hysterics because my dog was so sick and I could no longer control my bladder. I just wanted this baby out! I totally lost it when I was standing in the kitchen, portioning out my pup's medication when I peed my pants again. I wobbled up to change my pants while my husband ran out to get Taco Bell, a pregnant women's best friend. I changed AGAIN only to pee my pants one more time before I laid down on the couch. I got up to pee as soon as he left and this time "WOOOSH," yup, I couldn't get to the bathroom with the phone fast enough before I left a nice little trail. I thought my husband was going to wreck his car when I called him, but I insisted on getting my Taco Bell before being starved for the next umpteen hours. I didn't start with actual contractions until the Pitocin was started in the hospital and got the epi shortly thereafter.

We had an emergency C-section the following morning when my daughter's blood pressure was lost and mine plummeted. I'm not going to lie, I cried, sobbed like a baby because I wanted to do this the normal and natural way (with an epidural of course). I am already failing as a mom by not being able to have her the normal way, but once I saw her and that head full of curly dark hair, I was totally smitten and knew that I did what was best. My first mommy decision, SCORE! Maybe the mommy thing is going to be easy.
I was able to squeak 8 weeks out of work because of the C-section, but those 8 weeks were the worst of my life. My daughter wouldn't nurse correctly, she was projectile vomiting, she wouldn't sleep in anything except a $40 rocker next to the bed, my boobs bled and were chapped, my incision hurt, I wasn't producing enough milk so I had to get up every 2 hours to pump, regardless of if she woke up or not, and I had nobody at home with me while my child screamed in pain. The most interaction I had was crying on the phone with a nurse about how I can't handle the pain or enjoy time with my newborn.

I am lucky. My mom stayed the night once or twice a week with the baby in the guest room to give me some solid sleep. My brother stayed one night, which I totally appreciated, but he learned how hard it is to sleep with newborn grunting next to you. My family was very supportive. They all live within 20 minutes of us, so it was helpful to get a little free napping time occasionally.

It took us 4 months to figure out she had a milk protein allergy, gastro paresis, and laryngomalacia. I knew something was not right with her, so I pushed the doctors to look past a "summer cold" and "normal spit up" and I was right... Mommy decision two, SCORE, maybe I could be a good mom. I was pulled off nursing immediately and she was put on a prescription formula, so all of that work trying to build up my supply and stash my milk was wasted. So another meltdown, as I failed as a mom because I couldn’t nurse her for the full year like I wanted to.

My husband worked the midnight shift thinking that would be the best option while I worked during the day, except it sounded better than it worked. He had to sleep, so we still needed a sitter. Luckily my brother's girlfriend was unemployed and came to our house to watch her for a couple more months before we had to make the dreaded daycare or babysitter decision. Being a SAHM was not an option for us. Neither made enough money to maintain our lifestyle with the house and baby to stay at home. Our relationship hit rock bottom during those 8 weeks. I was jealous that my husband could go for a run or work and I was stuck home with a newborn, I couldn't even get to the store. We struggled, fought, yelled, and cried a lot, but somehow we got through it. He began to see my side of things and help out with moving me upstairs and downstairs before he left for work or went to bed. He set up the station so I wouldn't have to go far to get what I may need. Things started to work right, then we threw a wrench into the system, I went back to work.

The day I went back to work was bittersweet, I didn't cry, but I wasn't totally elated either. None of my pre pregnancy clothes fit, my incision still hurt, and I had to carry a pump with me... Joy, but my sitter brought my daughter to see me those first few days to help the transition and occasionally there after.

The last 19 months have been a whirl wind. We sold our house, moved in with my parents until our new house was finished, my husband lost his job and was a SAHD for a little while until something finally worked out, and I changed jobs.

As a working mom of one full time job and a part time job, I am very envious (border lined jealous) of anyone who gets the option to stay at home with their little ones. I would give my right arm if I could stay home and raise my daughter, knowing exactly what she is watching on tv and doing every minute of the day. But because we are not in that position, I have to work two jobs to make ends meet which cuts into my mommy-daughter time greatly. I have to rely on my faith and judgment of a once complete stranger on how they are raising, teaching, and disciplining my daughter. I find out days later that she is singing her ABCs or starting to count. I didn't get to teach these things to her, though if anyone asks, I was fully responsible for it :) My heart breaks every morning when I drop her off at the sitters; there is no way to explain it unless you have had to do it. She just stopped being clingy and trying to convince me to stay every morning and reaches willingly to my sitter which breaks my heart in a different way, but I know it's best for her. Every time my phone rings, my throat tightens with fear and anxiety. But my sitter is phenomenal; we have a great friendship and working relationship. Her daughter is a month younger than mine, so they are going through the same things at the same time. It’s nice to know she has the experience and loves her like her own.

My life is not perfect, I am still working at trying to lose my baby weight even after running a half marathon which doesn't seem fair to me, but life doesn't seem to hand out fair cards to everyone. My husband hates his new job, even though I am just thankful for the income even though it is a large cut. This plays into me not being able to even consider another baby. I would love to start trying for #2, but without a raise on my end or job change on his, we have to postpone that for now.

The only free time I take for myself are two hours a week for two soccer games with some of my girlfriends and a girls night with a friend and my daughter on Thursdays while he is in class. So it's wake up, get myself and baby ready (my husband handles the animal side of the zoo in the AM and packs up her lunch and diaper bag), drop her off, work and work out, then home to take care of the dogs, make dinner, and get her bathed with her teeth brushed and in bed by 8:30. SAHM’s jealous yet?!

On top of all of that, my daughter has been sick since the stomach virus ripped through our house the week of Thanksgiving. She was vomiting off and on every other day without a fever and all the doctors kept telling me she was re-infecting herself, which is not true because I know both places she stays are clean. Finally I called her GI doctor who confirmed that I was right and she actually had a blockage. Mommy decision three just saved my baby's life... Those two months were tough with daily or weekly trips to pediatricians, specialists, x rays or middle of the night runs to Kid Med. I would love for her to make it through this coming year with just her normal visits to the pediatrician. My life is a mess, but I wouldn’t change this mess for the world. My new job has been amazing with me being in and out of the office with a sick child.

Now we are searching for preschools, a new sitter or daycare/preschool after getting the news that my sitter is going to stop watching Bayleigh to start bookkeeping, but she has to line up enough clients to make up for losing the income of babysitting Bayleigh. So how much time do I have? But there is no answer to that. I love my sitter, Bayleigh loves her and her family, there is a routine there and comfort. Now I have to uproot my daughter from a very comfortable place she knows better than her own home and put her into a strange environment with strange people and new routines. How do you explain that to a 19 month old?! How do you learn to trust someone else?! If it's not one thing, it's another... so the saga goes on.

She is a little kid now, no longer a baby, but thank goodness she still needs me a lot. From behind she looks like a “little person” because she was blessed with so much hair and a nice round latina booty. She is my little miracle, and my weekends and nights revolve around her. One of my Christmas presents was a year membership to the local gymnastics place, and a 5 week class with her on Saturday mornings. So all I can do is make the best out of a situation that I cannot control and enjoy the time I do get to spend with her, even if it is not what I really had hoped for.