Posted in Uncategorized

You Are My Sunshine

It’s our first night home from the hospital with our newborn son. After birthing five children, I had no delusions of how Hallmark this evening would go, but this isn’t what I expected. My husband is in my almost two year old daughter’s room, trying to coax her to sleep. She wants no part of it. She’s confused and somewhat angry. I haven’t been home in days and now that I’m here, I’m different. She wants my undivided attention, but there is a strange new crying baby in the house that we keep saying is her brother. All my attention is directed towards him at the moment. 

My husband, I imagine, had visions of us cuddling our precious tiny boy as we took zillions of photos, remarking about how he has my nose and my husband’s eyes. That’s not happening either.

I’m propped up in bed, surrounded by a thousand pillows with a Boppy around my waist. My eyes are burning from tears, sleep deprivation, and pain. I try not to wince as my son latches on, but my nipples are excruciatingly sore. The right one still tender from the deep purple hickey on my areola after he latched on incorrectly, and my left nipple has a crack across the middle making it look exactly like a Phillips screw head. 

With each suckling I feel my uterus contract so violently, I’ve almost convinced myself there’s another baby in there and I’m in labor again. I’m weak. My knees tremble when I stand. The bathroom seems so far away, but the urgency to tinkle is overwhelming. I’m dehydrated. My lips, hands, and feet are begging for lotion. I could be in the Nevada desert right now. As I work my way down the hall to the bathroom, my moistureless barefeet uncomfortably glide on the wood laminate floors. I find temporary relief as I reach the bath mat.

This part is neither pleasant, nor pretty. I know that the stinging comes next and I chastise myself for not stocking up on Dermaplast and comfortable pads. The ones I came home from the hospital with were apparently designed for an 800 pound gorilla. I manage to eek my way through, get cleaned and changed, while simultaneously slathering cocoa butter all over myself. The slight relief I feel comes to a jerking halt as I enter the bedroom. My son is crying. Again. He is furiously sucking his fingers as his head moves back and forth, searching for food. My nipples and uterus tighten in unison as the pain shoots through my body to my toes. I clutch the nightstand for support, hoping not to fall to my knees in shock. The bed is on risers, making it difficult to get back into. Suddenly, I’m on fire. My bangs are stuck to my forehead; beads of sweat are dripping down my temples. My mouth is open, hot, and dry as I huff and puff, working my way into position. I’m back in the Nevada desert. Do late in life babies trigger the change of life? I make a mental note to Google “post-partum menopause in women of advanced maternal age” because this must be a hot flash. 

I brace myself for what is coming next. With my son cradled in my left arm, I release the flap of my nursing gown, cup my breast, and offer it to him. He senses it immediately and takes it. My chapped lips taste the salt of the tear streaming down my cheek as I squeeze my burning eyes shut. Aware that he can sense it, I try not to stiffen, but I can’t. I cry out in pain. My milk hasn’t come in yet and it takes all his effort to get the precious colostrum. I can tell he’s not satisfied. My boy is hungry and I can’t provide for him. 

I consider asking my husband to go to the store for formula, but quickly nix the idea. If I go in my daughter’s room and she’s not asleep, the whole cycle will start over. I feel jealousy and resentment towards him. They’re probably in there all cozy and snuggly, watching ‘A Bug’s Life’ together without a care in the world while I’m sitting in the dark in misery. I quickly nix that thought, too. I consider the notion that he’s feeling jealousy and resentment towards me. While he’s having to get my daughter in bed, I get to be in here with our brand new son. He’s been wanting another boy for more than a decade, patiently waited the nine months I carried him, then had to wait for us to come home – now he’s stuck in the room next to us.

It’s almost midnight. Time to throw in the towel. With embarrassment in my voice, I ask my husband to head to the store. I have failed. As soon as he leaves, the self doubt sets in. “What were you thinking? How will you ever manage this? You can’t even last a few hours.” I’m crying. Ugly crying. Kim K ugly crying. 

My husband is home and we are short with each other, both of us on edge. We are exhausted. This isn’t how things were supposed to go. He’s feeding my son while I lay here with my back to them, in shame. 

We repeated this process throughout the night with my son and daughter waking in alternating hours. My husband kisses my forehead as he races out the door, headed to work. My daughter is sleeping soundly in her room and my son is fast asleep on the Boppy around my waist. 

As the morning sun pours through the slats of the blinds from the window behind me, they shine directly on my son. It’s as though God Himself is trying to show me what a beautiful, perfect tiny human He has created for me. And he is perfect. A new day has dawn and I’m ready. My milk came in with the sunlight along with my drive to try harder, to keep going. Even the darkest nights turn into mornings. I’m happy. I look down at Joaquin, the rays warming his cheeks, and thank God for him. 

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Posted in Culture, Family, Food, Home, Personal

The Older I Get, The Sweeter I Get (or something like that)

I’m not overweight, I eat and prepare healthy foods, I go for frequent walks, and do not have a family history of diabetes, so imagine my surprise when my doctor called today to say I tested positive for gestational diabetes. I knew the possibility existed when I failed my one hour test, but I figured it was a fluke and that the three hour test would come back fine. I was wrong. After twelve hours of fasting, four blood draws, over four hours in the clinic, and one large sugary drink – I failed…
…and that made me feel like a failure.

My doctor called in my prescription to Walgreen’s and set me up with appointments to see his nurse and a dietician tomorrow. I need to adjust my diet to cut sugars and carbs. Honestly, I don’t even know what carbs are, but apparently white bread, croissants, tortillas, white potatoes, and pasta are out – so basically, my life is ruined now.
Not really.
Well, sorta.

Once I got off the phone with my doctor, I immediately texted the three people in my life that I knew would comfort me – my daughter, my mom, and my husband. They were all sympathetic. My next move was to Google “gestational diabetes.” I learned that it wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t a failure (even though I still feel like one.) Being a mother of “advanced maternal age” is a leading risk factor, and at 42 years old, I fall under that category. I also learned that due to the added hormones the placenta creates, my pancreas can’t make enough insulin to convert glucose into energy, so I have all this extra glucose just hanging out in my system. I still don’t even really know what my pancreas is.

My husband is going to stop by the pharmacy to pick up my machine and test strips tonight. I’ll meet with the nurse tomorrow so she can teach me how to do everything. After that, I’ll see the dietician so she can explain what I should and should not be eating. We will monitor it all daily and if there is no improvement, I’ll be put on insulin. Let’s pray it doesn’t come to that.

I must admit, I’m frightened. I’m confused. I’m overwhelmed. I’m trying not to add anxiety for the sake of the baby and my sanity, but this is really difficult to swallow. I never had any issues with my other full term pregnancies and knowing this could be age-related makes it harder because aging sucks anyway. I read that nearly 10% of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and I am one of them. Apparently I am also at risk for a c-section, though I don’t know why. (DISCLAIMER: I have nothing but respect for mothers who have had c-sections. I do not think any less of them or their birthing method. My concern is that it is a major surgery and that is scary to me.) I have so many questions and concerns. The vast majority of women return to normal blood sugar levels after the birth of their baby and are no longer considered diabetics.

That is a statistic I hope to be part of.

carbs

Posted in Crafts, Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work, writing

The Desk

After having 42 birthdays, the one that has always meant the most to me was when I turned 5. There wasn’t some extravagant Pinteresty party with fabulous decorations, a petting zoo, a professional photo shoot, and gift bags to rival the Academy Awards. No, it was a simple party with family only and a cake baked with love by my mother. My gift though, would change my life forever.
There was a gorgeous wooden desk fit for the President and with it were pens, pencils, highlighters, a stapler, tape dispenser, paper clips, folders, post-it notes, and several reams of blank paper. My brother and sister gifted me coloring books crayons, and map pencils. I can remember my mom helping rearrange my bedroom to make space for this regal desk. She gave my glasses from the kitchen that had Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar on them to organize my prizes in. I was so excited to get started!
Recently on a writers forum I belong to, we were asked if we remember the day we knew we wanted to write. I immediately recalled that birthday and images of my five year old self, sitting at my desk played in my head. That was the day I decided I would pen books and illustrate them. I was going to write poems and also be a journalist. I had big dreams!
As I looked back to the day, nearly 40 years ago, I realized something I never noticed before. That large, regal wooden desk fit for the President, wasn’t even that big. It wasn’t that regal, either. In fact, it was second-hand. It had nicks, discoloration, and old pen marks on it. It was just an average desk my parents picked up at a yard sale. And all those office and art supplies? They were the same exact ones you could find at my parents’ offices. We were by no means poor, but were definitely on a budget back then.
And you know what? Now that I’ve had this revelation, it doesn’t change a thing! I will still think of that as the best birthday I’ve ever had. I will still consider those the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts I’ve received. They were better than any Barbie doll, board game, or the hottest toy on the market. They meant everything to me. They sparked my imagination and fueled my creative desires. They sculpted me.
Maybe I didn’t grow up to have a New York Times Best Selling Novel. Barnes & Noble closed before I could do a book tour. Maybe I’ll never make a living with my writing and that’s okay. It doesn’t make me any less of an author.
I’m proud of my accomplishments. Thousands of people read my stories. I have work that has been published with millions of followers. When I’m gone, my stories will still be here, and that’s more than I could’ve hoped for, even when I was 5.

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Posted in Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

Like I Always Have Been…

To my husband, children, friends, and co-workers…

I wake up tired. By the time I make the coffee, get dressed, pack my lunch, and get to work, I’m ready for a nap. I sit at my desk, shifting around trying to get comfortable, but I can’t. The phones start ringing as I try to listen to voicemails and answer e-mails. They’re still ringing as I clock out at 5 pm. In between, it can be chaotic. This fast-paced, high-stress job drains me mentally; therefore, it drains me physically. I’m sorry if I get frustrated, if I get short with you, and sometimes I get angry.
To my co-workers, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll come back to work and handle that shit like I always have, just like you’re used to.

Once I get home from work, I just want to lay down. I know a nap is out of the question, no matter how exhausted I feel. The thought of having to make dinner gives me anxiety. I need to go to the grocery store and still haven’t planned our meal. It’s not easy making sure everybody’s dietary needs are met and all I really want to eat is chocolate chip cookies. I don’t even know if I can survive standing that long in front of the hot stove. The kids want us to go on a bike ride or a walk to the park. They want attention that I don’t know I’m capable of giving.
To my children, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll come home and be the Mom I always have been, just like you’re used to.

After dinner, I struggle to find the energy to clean. Just clearing off the table seems an insurmountable task, but we’ve already promised our friends we would hang out and I’ve put them off too many times in the past. When we finally meet up, I sit there smiling, but not really participating in conversation. My mind is a million miles away and my body is on the verge of revolting.
To my friends, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll arrive at our gatherings being the same upbeat, positive friend I always have been, just like you’re used to.

By the time we get home and get in bed, my husband is ready for my undivided attention and I don’t mean just making love. We usually talk, cuddle, and watch a movie on the sofa until I fall asleep with my head on his lap. This is generally the best part of my day. But we don’t do this anymore. I immediately get under the covers because I’m so wiped out. I’ve been shirking my responsibilities lately and he’s had to bear the burden of picking up my slack. That means more grocery shopping, meal making, cleaning, and diapering than he’s used to.
To my husband, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll be the efficient, multi-tasking, caring and loving wife I always have been, just like you’re used to you.

My dears, I want you all to understand…
When I wake up in the morning, the baby boy I’m carrying is already awake. He moves around, trying to get comfortable as my rib cage spreads. He anticipates my one cup of coffee as much as I do. As I get dressed, desperately searching for clothes that fit, he grows even larger. I prepare my lunch, wondering if we will suffer together from heartburn later. I get to work and feel his flutters with every ring of the phone. As my tension rises, so does his. He swirls around in my belly as I shift in my seat, letting me know he’s just as uncomfortable as I am. He pushes down on my bladder, sending me to the bathroom twice an hour. Once I’m home, he feels the work stress leaving and wants us to nap, but I can’t. He squirms around asking for food because we are both famished. My appetite has been insatiable. Following dinner he urges for rest, but I prepare to meet up with friends. The entire time we hang out as our children play at the park, he punches and kicks. When we eventually get home, I rush to bed, dying to lay on my side to finally feel the relief that never comes. I’m bloated and gassy. My baby boy continues to struggle in my belly as his space gets tighter and tighter. I sleep in short intervals throughout the night, waking up every hour after having the oddest dreams. I roll out of bed exhausted and start it all over again.

My dears, I want you all to understand…
When you need a breath of fresh air, you can just walk outside. When you need to go to the bathroom, you go alone. When you need a break from everything, you have that option. Even if you’ve been working, shopping, cooking, cleaning, diapering, and parenting all day, you still have the choice to walk away for a few moments of solitude. I don’t. No matter where I go or what I do, I always have the baby with me. There isn’t a sitter in the world I can drop him off with.

Believe me, I know I’m blessed to be able to carry this child! There are thousands of women in the world that would kill to feel what I’ve described, the good and the bad. I’m emotional. I’m irritable. I don’t even know what it means to have patience anymore. I suffer from bouts of depression. I don’t much like myself right now on the inside or the outside. I’ve become an ugly person. I look in the mirror and am unhappy with the circles and bags under my eyes, the weight I’ve gained, and my lack of make-up or hairstyle. I miss being me.
To myself, but I promise one day I’ll be the same happy, confident person I always have been, just like I used to be.

miss

Posted in Family, Home, Personal

7 Life Lessons From a 7 Year Old

I love spending time with my seven year old niece. She is like a miniature version of my sister and playing with my niece reminds me of playing with my sister when we were little girls. She is smart, sweet, and just a little sassy. I am wildly jealous of her long blonde locks that reach her waist. Her maternal instincts are on point and when I see the way she mothers her “babies,” I think of her mom mothering me.
It’s a beautiful thing.

Let me tell you something else about her. This girl has no fear. She will get on stage for her dance recitals or speed down the hill in her Ezyroller, steered only by feet and instinct with no trepidation.

I am a competitive person by nature. Whether it is the co-ed volleyball team my husband and I are on or an innocent game of Old Maid with my grandson, I play to win. My moves are methodical and calculated, so when my niece hit me up for a game of Jenga, I cracked my knuckles and put on my game face.
“Let’s do this,” I said.

I intently minded her make her moves. She won four out of five rounds. While watching her play, I learned a few things:

  1. She neither hesitated making a choice, nor was she afraid of the consequences. She did not ask me what I thought would be her best choice. She made her own decision on what she thought would work best for her and went for it.
  2. If the piece she chose did not slide out easily, she did not give up. She stuck with it and kept wiggling until it came out.
  3. After she got the piece she wanted, she was not afraid to let it go. She was in complete control of that piece and put it back on top without a care in the world.
  4. When the tower got weak and wobbly, she did not get timid. She was more determined to get the piece she wanted.
  5. When the tower finally fell, she did not get upset. She laughed and wanted to restart immediately.
  6. It is completely possible to win Jenga while suffering from hiccups.
  7. Final thought:
    I wonder if adults spend too much time trying to decide what choice to make, considering all the consequences. She just jumped right in and her decision was right more often than not.

 

jenga

Posted in Uncategorized

Hey Mr. Postman

When I first started suffering from my sciatica, I did quite a bit of Googling, trying to find help. Many people suggested using a maternity pillow to get comfortable. Since I was pregnant anyway, I decided to give it a shot. After looking online, I found they were running upwards of $80 and I was skeptical enough to not spend that kind of money. 

(Lucky for me?) Amazon tracks my searches and sent an email informing about one that was $35. I checked it out and decided to give it a go. All the other ones with Chevron patterns in mint green colors were high dollar, but this one was beige. That’s cool. I didn’t care about color, I cared about comfort. 

I placed my order and anxiously awaited my package delivery. It only took one day for it to leave California and get to Arizona. Progress. The next morning, it arrived in Texas! I was over the moon. That was five days ago. Little did I know my maternity pillow would be on a road trip from West Texas to North Texas to Southeast Texas, then back to Central Texas. (I’m kinda jealous.) I watched my package travel via Fed Ex Tracking multiple times a day. They do an excellent job of updating. I was getting more and more anxious for it to arrive. My expected delivery date was Monday, April 10th, but when I got home from work there wasn’t a 7 pound box on my doorstep. I was disappointed. 

Today was my day off and as soon as I woke up, I checked my Fed Ex tracker. My pillow had arrived in New Braunfels last night and was out for delivery via USPS at 7:43 am. Today was the day!

Unfortunately, we had terrible weather. It was pouring, thundering, lightning, even hailing. We were under a tornado and flash flood warning. The skies were dark and foreboding, but I knew my box was on its way come rain, come hail, come snow or sleet, the postman always delivers. 

Here I am, laying (uncomfortably) in bed, watching for the mail truck, day-dreaming of my maternity pillow. Olive was down for her afternoon nap and I was afraid the door bell would wake her. Plus, I didn’t want the box left on my porch in such wet conditions. I must have stared out the window for 30 minutes, but it felt like 3 hours. When I finally saw him approach my mailbox I jumped up, ran to the living room, flung open my front door, and watched him stuff bills in the box before driving away. 

“Wait!” I wanted to yell. “You forgot my box! I know you have it. Fed Ex told me.” But I didn’t want to run out in that weather any more than he did. I knew that’s why he didn’t bring me my box. I closed the door, hung my head, and went back inside, defeated. I would have to wait another day.

My husband got home a short time later and I couldn’t hide the sadness on my face. He asked what was wrong and I felt petty. There was flooding in areas near us and I was pouting over a pillow. I admitted that I was upset overy my box not arriving. “Well baby, it was hailing. I’m sure he didn’t want to get out in that. Maybe he will come back.”

I knew he was right, though I doubted he would come back. In weather like that, you just want to finish your job and go home. I have two very close friends that are postal carriers and I wouldn’t want them out in these conditions. I let go of my selfishness and started cooking. I got into my groove, baking banana bread, thickening my carne guisada, and rolling out tortillas. (I had to include that, since it’s out of the norm for me.) I stepped out front to discard some cans in the recycling bin when lo and behold…

There was a mail truck pulling into my driveway!  Long after his shift was over and the weather had cleared, he returned to bring me my coveted pillow. He was kind and even apologized for not dropping it off in the hail. I was so grateful. 

Hey Mr. Postman, you’re the bees knees.

Posted in Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships

Revenge of the Fifth

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Some call it karma. I guess I had it coming. I had spent nearly twenty-three years professing how amazing my pregnancies were. Hardly any nausea, minimal weight gain, no swelling, quick labors, fast delivery, angel babies that slept through the night and caught on to nursing at the first latch… Yes, I lived the dream.

Just before my 42nd birthday, I found out we were expecting. This would be my fifth birth, but I had an additional four I earned through marriage. I was no stranger to being a mother of “Advanced Maternal Age.” My fourth child was born when I was forty, but like the others, she was easy peasy. I am now in the second trimester of this pregnancy, or as some like to call it, “The Honeymoon Phase.”
Listen honey, if this is the honeymoon, I want a divorce.

I am tired. So very tired. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s because I have a toddler with more energy than a hydrogen bomb, but my guess is, it’s the new baby growing inside me sucking the life from my soul. Literally.

One morning last week, I woke up with a debilitating back ache. If I turned the wrong way, lightning would strike my spine and shoot down my leg. My right butt cheek would be left on fire. Apparently, our pending bundle of joy has caused my uterus to expand in such a way that I now have a pinched nerve. Sciatica during pregnancy is very real and very painful. I’ve been walking around hunched over like an old lady in need of a walker. I wince every time I sit. I can’t pick up my toddler out of fear of paralysis.
My best friend bought me a heating pad and I sit on a pillow at work. Also, if you’re wondering what that smell is, it’s Tiger Balm. Holy Christ on a cracker, this balm is the bomb! I slather that shit on like it holds the Fountain of Youth.

balm

As I waddled up to the check-out at Walgreen’s yesterday, the clerk looked down at my purchases (tennis balls and an electric massager) and gave me a solemn look.
“Pinched nerve?” she asked knowingly.
“My baby is trying to kill me,” I replied as I stuck my card in the chip reader. That card doesn’t even have a chip. I sighed, swiped it, and gimped away.

I had done my research. Google, Pinterest, and my faithful Facebook Mommy Group (shoutout to MoNBU) all offered the same advice. It was jumbled mix of foreign words I didn’t understand like, “exercise, stretches, yoga, workout, asana,” and something about remaining “active.”
…Basically, there was NOTHING I could do except lay around and complain to my husband in between naps.

He’s been a good sport about it. Just last night he cleaned the entire kitchen. He hasn’t said a word about my acne outbreaks, bloating, whining, uncontrollable hunger, daily mental breakdowns, or when I complain about the painful cramping that turns out to just be gas. Ooops. Sorry, baby.

loveme

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

You’re Welcome, World

For the past eight weeks, I’ve put a lot of thought into this pregnancy. Lord knows I’ve had some struggles as of late, and adding another baby to the mix seems like bad timing, but I was nonetheless over the moon with joy. 

I believe in God and I believe in His plan. Who am I (or anyone else) to question His plan? I may not understand why He decided to gift me with another child, but I whole-heartedly embrace this gift.

Besides, so far I have a 100% success rate at bringing amazing souls to this Earth. My children are beautiful, caring, empathetic people that touch the lives they meet. All of them make this world a better place. Honestly, it would be disservice to humanity if I didn’t improve the gene pool by adding more folks like this to the world.

Just in case you thought my reproductive system is your business (it’s not) the answer to the question you want to ask, but haven’t is…

No, I will not be getting my tubes tied, a hysterectomy, or anything “fixed” because that implies that there is something wrong with me. (Hint – there isn’t.) In order to get fixed, something must be broken and it’s clear there is nothing broken here.

Guess what? We have a clear understanding of “what causes this,” we are familiar with birth control, and we have grown to despise the term “Fertile Myrtle.” To the vast majority of our friends and family that have congratulated us and share in our excitement – we thank you from the bottom of hearts! To the few that have questioned us and God’s plan, to the few that have gossiped, sneered, and brought negativity to our special news – you’re the reason we are thrilled to bring another happy, positive, glowing soul to the universe. Our new bundle of joy will cancel out your shittiness. 

You’re welcome, World.

Posted in Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships

Another Revolution, Another Resolution 

Most years I don’t make any resolutions. I tell myself I’m happy just the way I am. I’ve never been a person who said I would try to lose weight, eat healthier  (frankly, my eating habits are none of my business and I should just stay out of it,) or do something about my batwings. (Lord help that arm flab.)

Last year I did decide to try the New Year jar where you write down a happy moment, place it in the jar, and read all the happy memories on NYE. That lasted until spring when I decided to use the jar as a homemade lemonade container. Now it looks like nothing happy happened in our lives after March in 2016. *sigh*


I also resolved to be less of a pushover. The basic definition of a pushover is a person who rarely says no, so in that regard, I failed… but did I? I’ve always taught my children that if someone asks a favor of you and you can do it, by all means do it. A small effort on your part can make a huge difference for someone else. I rarely said “no” in 2016, so I call that fail a win.

I also promised myself I would complete my first book and I did. It was sent to a renowned children’s publisher on November 9th. They said it could take four months to hear back from them so I’m holding my breath until March 9th. Even if it never gets published, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I wrote it and I think it’s pretty damn good.

I’ve started writing my next book in the style of my favorite author, humorist Erma Bombeck. It’s a comedic autobiographical acount of what it’s like for me to be a 20th Century mom raising a 21st Century baby. Basically, it’s just a longer version of some of my funnier blogs and hopefully relatable to parents everywhere. I hope to complete it in 2017 and have higher hopes of it getting published. I don’t have delusions of grandeur. I’m not expecting it make the best seller lists, but I would like for it to hit home for many parents out there.

I do strive to be a better wife and better mother. I don’t need December 31st to make those goals. It’s something I strive for daily.

For the past week, I’ve tried to think of what resolutions I’ll make tonight and I’ve come up empty-handed. I don’t want to set myself for failure, I don’t want to set any meaningless goals, but I do want to have something to strive for in the new year. I’m a list maker and love the satisfaction of crossing something off my list.

So what will it be? Sky-diving? Learn to play the piano? Decide what I want to be when I grow up? Teach myself how to fishtail braid? Clean out the thousands of emails in my inbox?

Whatever it is, I may not choose it tonight and that’s okay. January 1st may represent a clean slate, but you know what else does? Every single new day.

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that having the chance to wake up every morning – no matter the day of year, and have the oppurtunity to make a decision to better your life in some small or significant way is more than some less fortunate are able to say.

Happy New Year, All. Make it a great one!

Posted in Community, Culture, Family, Personal, Relationships, Work

Life After Maternity Leave

Before I shared the news of my pregnancy with the world, I decided to tell my boss and co-managers first, in the form of a five person group text. They deserved that much, after all we were like family – a very, very dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. Apparently, they all found this news to be so unbelievable that not one single person responded. I waited a day before making the announcement on Facebook. That’s when the comments from co-workers flooded in. My boss even called me in to his office to confirm. He congratulated me and I assured him that after nine years of being a faithful employee, I would not be leaving.

Throughout my pregnancy, my employer was amazing. My boss never took issue with me having to leave work or schedule myself off due to doctor appointments or not feeling well. He checked in on me often and was very supportive. After my last pre-natal check-up, I returned to work. He asked how everything went. I told him Doc said I was dilated to three and 75% effaced. It would be any day now, in fact, I could go into labor that night. It was already two in the afternoon, so my boss told me to go ahead and go home. It would be my last day until after the baby was born. That was a Thursday; my daughter came into this world that Sunday morning.

I am not a salaried employee. I don’t have health, vision, or dental insurance, a 401K plan, sick days, vacation days, or paid time off. There is no maternity leave program. I earn an hourly wage and have a company provided (and paid for) cell phone. There are some pretty amazing perks at my job. My family can tent camp for free and float the river in a raft or a tube for free. We stay in cabins at an extremely reduced rate. I’m not required to wear a uniform – tank tops and flip-flops are perfectly acceptable. I have my own office with unlimited internet and little to no supervision as well as my own kitchen. We enjoy company paid for lunches in the summer and my boss is very flexible with my schedule. If you’re an outdoorsy person with no desire for material things, this is a dream job.

I am still humbled and overjoyed that my employer paid me a partial weekly salary while I took my leave. I am grateful for that.

When my daughter was two months old, I returned to work. It was the off-season and I was still nursing, so I brought her to work with me. The rock ‘n play was set up next to my desk and she slept most of the workday. When she was ready to nurse, I just closed my office door. My boss walked in and I held my breath. I was 98% sure he would be okay with my new office mate, but 2% of me still worried. (Yes, in retrospect, I should have asked first.)

He stopped by my office and we exchanged warm hellos as he welcomed me back. He had a new puppy on a leash with him that was very excited to meet my daughter. He fussed at the pup before saying to me, “I’m sorry I brought my dog to work.”
“I’m sorry I brought my baby to work,” I replied and that was the end of the discussion.

My daughter is one now and no longer sleeps most of the work day. I have exchanged the rock ‘n play with a pack ‘n play. She spends her time watching Chu-Chu TV on YouTube (and if I never hear the Mommy Finger song again, it will be too soon.) Sometimes I take her out of “baby jail” and let her crawl around my office as she tries to unplug my computer or just sit on my lap while I attempt to type one-handed. She loves for me twirl her around in my swivel chair.

My boss still brings his dog to work, too. She’s not a puppy anymore and he no longer keeps her leashed in his office. When they arrive, she promptly runs to me, licks my face, then goes to do her “job.” She has become the official “Guardian of the Baby.” She walks in circles around the pack ‘n play, making sure everything is as it should be. She licks my daughter’s feet through the netting, then settles down in place, right next to the play pen. If someone dares enter my office, she jumps up and stands at attention – her ears sticking straight up and her tail pointing straight out. Once she determines they are not threat, she lets her guard down.

Most days my daughter doesn’t interfere with my work, but some days… well, it can be tough. There are times when she is splayed across my desk as I change her diaper while she kicks and squirms. My office now reeks of fresh baby poop. Occasionally I take a call while she is saying, “Mommommomm” in the background. I get tired. So very tired. I wonder how I will ever get my work done while spoon-feeding a baby and wanting to rip my hair out after hearing the “Johnny Johnny” song for the umpteenth time today. It’s times like these that I have to remind myself she won’t always be here.

I don’t know what the cut-off age will be, but I know when she starts walking, talking, and getting into everything in sight, I’m going to need figure something out. Finding childcare makes my stomach turn. I don’t want to let her go. I want her with me until she has to go to school. I have no back-up plan and no idea where she will go while I’m at work. It’s a problem that sits in the back of my mind constantly and it weighs me down. I was not afforded this luxury with my older children and now that I am able to take my child to work with me, I can’t imagine not having her.

Believe me, I know I am incredibly lucky to be in this position. It’s a struggle moms all over the world face when their maternity leave ends. I am so thankful. I love my job and I love living this camplife. I’m proud to raise my daughter in this environment and will probably only retire when my hands are too arthritic to type. Until then, I hope to take my daughter to work with me as long as possible.

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