My First Baby, No Longer My Only Baby

It was something that I never thought about when we were trying to conceive our second child, that my first would no longer be my only baby.  It didn’t occur to me that I would be facing a good-bye by welcoming another child into the world.  It wasn’t until someone shared a blog post that showed up on my Facebook wall, and since then I’ve been broken.

I’m broken, torn, excited, anxious…I’m a lot of things.  And pregnancy hormones are going full force as I am nearing my due date, so everything is making me cry.  This includes the episodes of Daniel Tiger when his family expands and he meets new baby sister.

How do other moms deal with this?  How do you  say good-bye to being the mom of just your first baby?

I find myself looking for extra snuggles, extra kisses, extra everything.  I lay in bed with him for a half hour after he has fallen asleep, just watching him and his innocence, feeling my heart fill with love for him.  I am so excited to watch him grow, to become a big brother, a thoughtful and caring individual.  I can already see the sensitivity he carries with him, the concern he has for others.  Though at the same time, I wish he could stay young.  I know the days will come too soon where mom will not be cool.  He will be embarrassed of my crazy faces and silly dance moves.  He won’t want or need to hold my hand.  Eventually he will grow old enough to move out and begin to navigate his own journey in the world.  Those days will come and I will long for him to be young once again.  A young small boy who just wants to give his mom a quick hug and kiss while playing for no reason other than he loves her.

These days will come, and more.

Maybe I feel like I am speeding up the time, forcing my son to no longer be my baby by bringing another baby into the family.  What if he isn’t ready?  This isn’t a choice he gets to make and it’s going to affect the rest of his life.  While I am so excited to meet our new child face-to-face, I am scared to let go of being the mother of one.  I am nervous for the future.  I remember that first day, the first time I held my son, and looked in his eyes.  The love, oh the love.  The intense rush of oxytocin fueled love.  The deepness and longevity of that love.  I never knew this love existed until I had him…and I’m going to experience it again, with another child.

I’ve been told I’ll be amazed by what my heart can hold.  I hope my heart can handle it.

Motherhood is Overwhelming

Breathe. Just take a deep breath and you’ll feel better. Things will get better. It really isn’t that big of a deal. Don’t worry, everything is fine.

I feel like I say these things to myself a lot…and I’ve been saying them for the past 10 months. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son more than anything. He is the best. His smile lights up the world, his snuggles melt my heart, and his innocence gives me hope in humanity. But some days, it’s hard. In the beginning, there were more hard days, and it definitely has gotten easier as the little guy has gotten older, but some days are still hard.

I work part time, four 8-hour shifts a week with an hour lunch to break it up, plus an occasional Saturday and an hour-long exercise class each week. Each work day I try to wake up at 6 am to get myself ready, put together the diaper bag and my pump, pack a lunch, get the little guy up (if he doesn’t wake up on his own), get him ready, bring him to the sitter’s, and then be to work by 8am. Living less than 10 minutes away from my place of employment, this sounds like it would be plenty of time, but each morning is a struggle. I’m so tired when my alarm goes off, I’m lucky to pull myself out by 6:30. If baby wakes up early, that means fighting through two diaper changes (he just can’t lay still on his back), feeding him breakfast, and multiple nursing sessions since he gets so distracted with everything in the morning. If my husband is awake and helping (which is probably a little over half the time), there’s miscommunication about what the diaper bag needs and he makes me a wonderful big breakfast that I don’t really have time to eat. If it’s the other time, when he isn’t awake, I’m struggling to get things together on my own, cursing myself for choosing to go to bed a little early over getting things ready the night before, and quickly putting something together that I can eat for breakfast at my desk at work. And of course dropping the little guy at the sitter’s isn’t a quick pit stop either. It’s either one of his grandma’s or my friend’s daycare, and there’s always chit-chatting, unpacking the cooler, letting them know how much milk and what solids he has for the day and when he last ate and had his last diaper change. After all that, I get to work about 15 minutes late. Only 10 if I’m lucky, but some days it’s 20. Then that means I have to stay late to make up my time, or I could take a shorter lunch, but that doesn’t work because I go nurse him on my lunch hour, and transport him back home if my husband is taking him for the afternoon or to a different sitter sometimes. I often find myself coming back from lunch break late, again, and with lunch to eat at my desk because I didn’t get to eat.

(And yes, I work. I’m not a stay-at-home mom. And I may have the opportunity to work full time in the future, which means health benefits for my family, but an extra day away, too. Does it make me a bad mom if I went full time? Does it make me a bad mom if I don’t?)

Mornings before my exercise class are the same hectic scenes, only I bring baby with me to the Kid Zone while I teach, but I’m still 10 minutes late no matter how hard I try. At least the ladies that come to my class don’t mind.

…Everyday stress.

And then there’s the unexpected things, like getting a terrible stomach bug earlier this month which destroyed my plentiful milk supply. I spent two weeks with either my son or my pump attached to my boobs and drank so much water I was dangerously close to having a pee accident every hour. (My pelvic floor still isn’t the same as it was.) Rebuilding my supply has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had in my life.

I’ve gone out once, for my work’s Christmas party. I believe I can count the number of times I’ve been out to meet with friends, without my baby, on one hand. Yes, one hand. Just five times, and two of those times were work related (Christmas party and department gift exchange). One was to make homemade laundry soap. Does that count as “meeting up with friends”? I feel guilty if I even ask to go out. I asked my husband once if he could take the little guy one night so I could go to the gift exchange, and although I’m sure he didn’t mean to offend, I will never forget his response. “I just thought you’d want to see him.” Of course I want to see my little boy! I look forward to seeing him every day after work! But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like to hang out with some of my co-workers to have fun for a little bit, even if I was half zombie-like with terribly bloodshot eyes from being so tired at the end of the day.

Can I see my friends, too? Do I still get to have a life as Kristen, or now is my life just fulfilling designated mom duties? I’d just like some time to myself, but am I being selfish? Am I going to regret writing this blog post, publicly acknowledging that I find motherhood challenging and hard?

I’m still breastfeeding, and plan to for quite awhile yet, but my son still isn’t sleeping through the night. He wakes up at least once every three hours to eat, sometimes more, and of course I am the one who gets up with him. I haven’t had a solid night of sleep in so long. Maybe I’m just overtired…

I’m so tired that I’ve mixed up the brake and gas pedal. I used to read stories of people who did that, and always thought, “How could you do something like that? How could you mix up the pedals?” Well, I did it, while I was going to park. I slammed on the brake pedal for real when the car began to accelerate onto the sidewalk in front of the parking spot. I was so mortified and just started to cry. I’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of stupid mistakes I make due to being tired, but that one tops them all.

I tried reaching out to a fellow mother before when I was having a particularly stressful day. She responded back with “babies take 100%,” which left me feeling even worse. I felt like I was being told motherhood was too much for me and I couldn’t handle it.

But I love my baby and I love being a mother. And I was so relieved to talk to a co-worker who also felt mental exhaustion from motherhood. And I know we’re not the only two. There’s more of us out there. Mothers who love being mothers, but also feel overwhelmed. I just want to do what is best for my baby and keep my sanity. I don’t want to feel alone and judged. I want to feel loved and supported. It just gets to be too much when you go for too long without feeling the latter. Then you lash out and get angry. You say things to your spouse that you regret, and these things just make it worse. I try to express to my husband how I’m feeling. He tells me to stop being so hard on myself and reminds me that our baby loves me and tells me that I’m doing a great job, and it helps…sometimes. The biggest help comes from talking to other mothers, and letting myself be available for other mothers when they need help, too.

I’ve always had high anxiety when I have a lot of my plate. Which is why I find it so surprising that a majority of people think I am really calm. College was really stressful for me, finding the balance between school, work, relationships, and me-time. I remember crying my eyes out multiple times because of the stress, and now I’m back in those shoes. I find myself pulled in multiple directions, going by everyone’s schedule but my own, like I’ve lost control of my own life, and I don’t like that feeling. It’s like I have “one of those days” where things just don’t go right for a week straight at a time. And then I wonder, is it normal that I’m feeling this way? Is this postpartum depression? Wouldn’t it already happened by now if I were to have it? Won’t I just get over it? Am I just not seeing that the good days outnumber the bad because I’ve been having an extra rough month? Am I still okay? Will I feel better in the morning? Is it just all in my head? Is the problem just me? Do I need to re-prioritize my life and how I see and do things? Should I just accept that certain things are the way they are and that’s it? Do I just need to find my balance? Will I find it?

It’s all so hard to say, so hard to explain, and I find that people can be so quick to judge and make accusations. So I guess I’ll end with a list of links to posts or other things that I have found encouraging.

Feeling Overwhelmed Doesn’t Make You a Bad MomStop the Mommy Wars
Overwhelmed by Motherhood
Moms, When Are You Going to Learn?

Marriage + Baby

There were a lot of things I was expecting and prepared (at least as prepared as you can be) for when our little boy entered the world. I was expecting to be sleep deprived, have less time for household chores, learn how to eat one-handed, and have my days completely revolve around our baby. What I wasn’t expecting was the sudden and glaring strain on my marriage.

Things that maybe would have slightly bothered me before, suddenly bothered me a lot. I would ask for my husband to do things, like bring up the laundry or put together the diaper bag, and it would make me angry if he would forget or was too slow about it. Or, I would get angry about him working extra hours instead of spending the extra time with our baby and me. And I was so wrapped up in baby that I didn’t notice that I hadn’t even held his hand in weeks or that he was facing more pressure to financially provide for our family.

So why hadn’t anyone brought up the adjustment we would be facing in our marriage? Do people just not like to talk about it? The closest hint I got that there might be issues was the advice card I got from my mom at my baby shower which read, “Make time for you and Carl,” and when my delivery doctor told my husband not to be surprised if he ranked lower than the family pet after the baby was born. Looking back now, those were the only flags. No one wanted to tell me that having the baby was going to make our relationship hard. Having a baby is a wonderful and joyous event and cause for celebration…I guess no one wanted to rain on the parade.

But it’s normal! And common! So why aren’t people talking about it? Why aren’t people handing out books about improving communication skills alongside What to Expect While Your Expecting?

I was so relieved when I talked to a friend who gave birth around the same time as me, and she told me her and her husband were having a few issues, too. At first I felt guilty and ashamed, like I was failing at parent- and spouse-hood, but then I found out I wasn’t alone. Coworkers of mine talking about their kids mentioned how having their kids made them have to work harder at their marriage. I wasn’t failing. I was going through what most parents go through, the “adjustment to parenthood.”

So now, like my coworkers have experienced, I’m working harder at my marriage, or at least trying to work harder. My husband and I are lucky enough to know each one’s love language and to be friends along with being lovers. We try to keep our love tanks full (physical touch and quality time) and keep the lines of communication open. Some days are harder than others (lack of sleep, bad day at work, messy house), but we know we are both in it together and that’s what counts.

If you aren’t familiar with love languages, I’d highly suggest the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book was a big eye opener for me. I haven’t read it in quite some time though. I probably should again.

Postpartum Challenges

It’s been two weeks exactly now, since I gave birth to our son. He’s still precious as ever. 🙂

I’ve been asked a lot of questions by other expectant moms out there, so I thought I’d make a post about some of the challenges I faced and am facing now. Not that I’m an expert on any of these things, by any means, just sharing my experience.

1. Hydration vs Bladder Control

This one is embarrassing. For the first week after delivery, my ability to control my bladder was shot. I had four all out accidents, two which were at the hospital before we came home. Luckily, I was in our bathroom at home for the other two accidents and was able to hop into our walk-in shower so I didn’t pee all over the floor. I also had several close calls and was thankful that I was pretty much wearing a diaper for the first few days after delivery anyway. I became really nervous to drink water, but staying hydrated while breastfeeding is really important, so I felt like there was a constant tug of war going on in my head. I was especially scared of peeing the bed.

It eventually got better though. I started doing my kegels everyday and made sure I was going to the bathroom at least once every two hours, even if I didn’t have to go. I wouldn’t say I have full control of my bladder back just yet, but it’s pretty close now. I’m at least confident enough that I can go out in public without having an accident!

2. Engorgement

My milk came in about three days after giving birth, and boy did it come in! My breasts were so full, our baby couldn’t even get a latch on them. They hurt terribly and were leaking milk like crazy. I finally got the little guy to latch after several tearful hours. After he was done, I got out my breast pump to try for the first time. Wow, did that help! I was able to get them emptied enough that they didn’t hurt and our baby could latch on alright again. I’ve got the milk in the freezer and now I’m building up a supply for when I go back to work.

3. Sleep Deprivation

This one I’m still struggling with. Key advice that I’ve been given, and I’ll give anyone, too – sleep when baby is sleeping! It’s hard when you have visitors, because everyone wants to come see the baby, but you do need to learn to say no. Saying no to people isn’t something that comes easily for me, but if I’m going to be able to take care of the baby, I need to be at least partly rested. I can’t be feeling like a zombie for days on end. I’m just now getting comfortable with saying no. I skipped out on a family birthday dinner to stay home and sleep with the baby last night, and I can say I am very glad that I did. I felt bad not going, but I really needed the sleep. Usually our baby will sleep in the late evening and then be up for part of the night before going back to sleep, so if I don’t get to nap while he’s sleeping in the evening, bed time might not come until 4:00 am.

I think those are the three main things I’ve struggled with since giving birth, and none of them have been horrible. Except for the first time I peed my pants at home. I won’t lie, I cried because I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. My husband helped me find the humor in it though and comforted me. Your body goes through a lot during labor, and it takes some time to get things back to how they were before.

That being said, I am loving motherhood. Still strange for me to think I’m a parent now though, haha.

Welcome Baby!

He’s here! Yes, that is right, he. We had a baby boy!

It still seems surreal, but it’s definitely real. He’s here sleeping in his bassinet next to my bed.

We welcomed our baby to the world on Sunday, March 24th at 11:36 am. He weighed in at 7 lbs 12 oz and was 18.5 inches long. His birth is something I will never forget.

I ended up taking Friday off of work, thinking that my water had broke. I called into the doctor’s office and they told me to go to the OB unit at the hospital. Turns out it was a false alarm though. The fluid was not amniotic fluid, so they sent me home. My husband went to his weekly poker game that night and I went out to dinner and the bowling alley for a friend’s birthday. The next day, Saturday, started off like any other day with my usual braxton-hicks contractions. We started timing them in the evening when they started to get stronger, coming every five to ten minutes. By midnight it was clear I was in labor and we headed to the hospital.

At the hospital.

Settling in to sleep through early labor at the hospital.

Although the contractions were regular and painful, I was still in early labor and they gave me an ambien to try and sleep since I was going to have a long day ahead of me. I tried sleeping without the sleep aid first, but that didn’t work, so I ended up taking the pill. I was able to sleep until 6 am, waking up for each contraction and to pee, all while having the strangest dreams.

After I woke up, time flew by. I still was under 3 cm when I woke up, but it didn’t seem long at all before I was at 6 cm! During the earliest part of my active labor I did some walking in the hallway and tried sitting on a birthing ball. I did get sick twice and threw up the water I had been drinking and a popsicle I ate. Since I couldn’t keep my liquids down, they hooked me up to an IV for fluids. I remember asking how long it would be before I was fully dilated when I was at 6 cm, and the nurse told me it was usually about a centimeter an hour. My thought was, Oh god, another four hours?! Not long after the IV was hooked up I was relieved when they told me I was at 9 cm. “So much for a centimeter an hour!”

By far, the most trying part of my labor was from 9 cm to being fully dilated. The contractions were incredibly painful and I felt ready to push and had to fight the urge. I wanted to be done so bad and my legs began to uncontrollably shake. I felt like giving up, but the nurse coaching me kept pushing me to keep going and telling me I could do it. Honestly, I don’t know how I could have gotten through it without her. She was incredible. She helped me to focus, to breathe, and helped give my husband the right cues to help me through it, too. They were both incredible.

Mom and Baby Meet

First time Mom and Baby meet face to face.

Soon the doctor was there, and after just a half hour of pushing, a baby was born – my baby, our baby. Everything was such a rush, so fast. The nurse, the doctor, my husband, were all telling me to push, telling me breathe, telling me how close I was to being done. An oxygen mask would go over my face and then it would come off when it was time to push. All of a sudden there was a baby on my stomach, then in my arms, and it was the baby I had been carrying for the past nine months. It almost felt like magic. I remember feeling the bottoms of his feet for the first time, rubbing them with my thumb, just like I would when he’d stick his feet out the side of my stomach.

I have to say, I am very happy with my birth experience. In all, since the time we started timing the contractions, it was 18 hours of labor, 12 hours of which was painful labor. Even though it was painful and I almost gave in at the end, I didn’t take any pain medications, which is what I wanted.

Now, daily life is adjusting to revolving around the newest member of our family. We try to sleep when he sleeps and get housework done in the order it needs to be, leaving the small things for last. Baby comes first.

Anxiously Awaiting

While I’m still freaked out about being a parent for the first time, I can say I’ve gotten over being terrified by the thought of it. My estimated due date is now just a week away. I can’t believe how soon it is.

From Bible Thumper To Not

I have a feeling this may be a multiple part post.

I grew up in a Catholic home and a Christian environment for the most part. It wasn’t until seventh grade that I really began to question the Bible and interrogated my mother and Missionettes leaders on all the technicalities. How could both the Bible and evolution be true? Where were dinosaurs in the Bible? Why was God so harsh and cruel in the Old Testament, but more forgiving and loving in the New Testament? If you needed Jesus to get to heaven, what did the people do before Jesus came to earth? My Missionettes leaders had the answers I was looking for, and that night I prayed so hard to God that I could just know if He and the Bible were really real. I woke up the next morning feeling assured and refreshed that Jesus was my savoir and the Bible was His true Word. And that’s how I felt until about after I graduated college.

I think part of what made me such a good student was that I listened so well. So well, in fact, that I would hardly ever question people that I believed to be in authority and knowledgeable. This not only included teachers, but also pastors, bible study leaders, parents of friends, etc. I left the Catholic church once I was able to in high school and in college I began attending a weekly bible study. Then I found a small Baptist church to attend before I settled in a large and growing non-denominational (and I should add fundamentalist) church where I was re-baptized by submersion.

I never considered myself an extremist, but I called myself a Christian fundamentalist. I believed the Bible was true, word for word. But things started to happen, just here and there, that got me to start thinking. One, my then boyfriend of more than five years (and now husband) had been questioning the existence of God for quite some time and regularly asked me about my faith, how I knew, how I had confidence in my faith. Him trying to understand my faith led me to question my own and try to understand it better myself, but sometimes I could tell I lacked the confidence that I thought I had. Second, I started to notice things that just didn’t sit right with me in my weekly Bible studies. I remember one story in particular where God hardened the heart of someone in order to prove His glory. God intentionally hardened the heart of a person (note that God has supposedly given us all free will) so that they would not accept Him, so that they would not know salvation or Jesus, so that His glory could be proven. This one story stuck out like a nail in everything I had believed and accepted as true, and it really got me thinking. It got me thinking and questioning everything. I started looking at the bible stories I knew so well from different angles and investigating the origins of different religions.

Of course, other life events have occurred, making me question the likelihood of a divine being guiding our lives. The biggest event was the passing of my Step Dad. No words can accurately describe his passing. The unbelievable unfairness of his cancer diagnosis and the progression of his disease. I demanded answers from the god I was already distancing from. How was my Step Father’s sickness, pain, incurable illness….how was any of it justifiable? Where was the good that god was trying to show? To demonstrate? Where was the mercy? Merciful that such a good and honest man be dealt such a bad hand? And for god to see it fit that my Mother, after years of being alone and finally finding true love and happiness, watch her loved one suffer and then be left alone again? Where is god in that?

I was angry at god, even at the notion of an all-knowing, all-loving god. In some ways, I guess I still am. Sometimes, things just happen, and there is no good reason to answer, “Why?”

Maybe this won’t be as long as I thought. In short, I don’t consider myself a fundamentalist anymore. I wouldn’t use the label of Christian, either. I don’t know what I am. Why do we even have to use labels? Life is one big puzzle. No one knows how we really got here. Anything anyone says, they are believing on faith. No one that’s alive right now saw what happened in the beginning. The best we can do is to combine our knowledge, scientific evidence, and life experiences to come up with some explanation that fits us. That’s where I am, trying to figure out life.

A Good Mom?

I haven’t updated my blog in almost a year now. The big news: I am going to be a mom. My due date comes in a little over a month and I’m terrified I am going to be a terrible mom.

I’m so scared of making wrong decisions, and I feel so awfully alone in my fear.

Vegan Layered Bean Dip

Layered Bean Dip
Vegan Layered Bean Dip

Sorry for the blog neglect!!

I’ve been running into a lot of people lately who want to know how I made something or want to know some tips for eating better. Given all the interest, I figured I should start blogging more about what I eat. To start, here’s the layered bean dip that I made for the Super Bowl.

First off, I found the inspiration for this off of Pinterest. Here’s the link to the original recipe that I based mine off of, Layered Bean Dip: Vegetarian Recipe. I made some modifications to mine, but either way, this stuff is delicious. The meat-eaters were too indulged in their queso dip and buffalo wings, so this left the whole dish pretty much to myself. No joke, I ate 3/4ths of it during the game. I was so stuffed, but it was so good. I can attest that a few other people did get to try some and they said it was fantastic, too.

So, here’s how I made it…

1 can refried beans (fat-free = n0 lard)
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 t minced garlic
1-2 T olive oil
1 package of guacamole (Calavo brand)
1 jar salsa
shredded lettuce
sliced black olives
chopped green pepper (1/4 pepper)
chopped red pepper (1/4 pepper)

First, I sauteed the onions in olive oil until they were nicely cooked. Not all the way to translucent, but until most of the crunch is out of them. I also threw a bit of minced garlic in there, but more towards the end. Next I added the can of refried beans to the pan and stirred it up to mix the onion and garlic in. Once that was mixed, I added the vegetable broth a little bit at the time until I came to the right consistency that I wanted for my dip. I ended up using less than half a cup for this. It may have been more like a third.

The rest is pretty easy. All you have left is to layer in the ingredients to whatever dish you are serving it in. I chose an 8×8 glass pan. First, I put down the bean mix, followed by the guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce, chopped peppers, and sliced black olives. The only change I would make it to put the lettuce on the top instead of right on the salsa. It can get soggy if you don’t eat it right away. I’d also like to try making it with nutritional yeast added to the refried beans, as I’ve heard this gives a cheesy taste to them.

I honestly am looking for a reason to make this again soon. It’s so delicious and everyone likes a good bean dip.

Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself

My New Year resolution – Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

I whine a lot. Too much. I whine about being frustrated when things aren’t going how I think they should go. I whine about not going to school, not having a job that actually matters to the world, feeling like I don’t have control over the direction of my life..and I am so tired of my whining. So, my resolution for the new year is to stop feeling sorry for myself.

2012 will be one of organization, accomplishment, advancement, and optimism. 2011 was a really hard year. I have no idea of knowing if 2012 will be any easier, but I need to make a better conscious effort to be positive, more relaxed, in control, and make the best of situations.


  1. Start a petition to get the bottle bill expanded.
  2. Learn more yoga.
  3. Begin meditating at least weekly.
  4. Keep eating healthy and drink more water.
  5. Eliminate dairy completely from my diet, with no looking back!
  6. Keep a regular exercise schedule.
  7. Do the Ore to Shore this summer.
  8. Read 12 books.
  9. Start getting more politically involved in issues I care about.
  10. Learn learn learn.
  11. Have fun.

What are your New Year resolutions?

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