So it was just Henry and I at home playing and singing and ordering groceries and squawking and sleeping — sleeping, ha — for most of the weekend. Just us two.
I celebrated Mother’s Day being a mother.
(No joke, I just teared up a little. Blargh. Hormones.)
My husband sent flowers — because he’s the best — and we enjoyed those.
We did make it out to my grandparents’ house so they could see him and so I could give my mother and grandmother their Mother’s Day gifts… which I forgot… at my house… so baby brain.
Visiting family is super exhausting so we had a bath and snuggled for another good chunk of the day.
Not the best part — the best part was my nugget — but another great part of my first Mother’s Day was all the happy Mother’s Day wishes I received from my tribe. Friends from work, friends from forever, family — all wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, even though I’m obviously not their mother. But I am a first-time mother, and it was my first Mother’s day, and these women were some of the most excited humans — especially my sister-in-law — when they found out I was pregnant. Their support and love is unwavering, and I’m so very thankful for that, for them.
I’m going to tie a string around my finger for next year so I can wish all the new moms out there a Happy First Mother’s Day — grow the tribe, you know?
I hope you all had a Happy (First or Fifth or 50th) Mother’s Day, too.
My husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate his… well, and mine… and our anniversary since it was his birthday, and we missed my birthday due to a screaming newborn, and our anniversary wasn’t a big show because I was so hugely, uncomfortably pregnant.
So we put on our best and went out, but not before cleaning baby barf off of my dress.
Babies are disgusting.
I have more than 200 pictures of my son being cute, but I don’t have even one picture of my son being disgusting, which is his natural state.
…usually because I’m covered in or trying to contain whatever gross thing has just happened.
Here are a few of the truly disgusting things I’ve discovered since becoming a parent (and no one warned me) about babies:
1. Newborn eye gunk
Babies cry. Babies cry a lot. But newborn babies cannot cry tears because their tear ducts aren’t developed fully at birth.
So when a baby cries, instead of tears, the tear ducts get clogged and… gunky. My son’s right eye was so gunky from clogged tear ducts, it needed to be cleaned constantly for like two weeks.
And it was disgusting.
2. Baby hair
Go ahead. Wash your baby’s hair. I’ll wait.
Are you done? Baby’s hair clean? New diaper, fresh onesie, clean socks?
OK, now, touch your baby’s hair.
It’s disgusting, right?!
3. Spit up
When my son was first born and up to about six weeks old, he had terrible reflux — not bad enough that he needed medical attention — but just bad enough that it made him a tiny baby barf machine.
He spit up constantly.
We did everything we could think of to limit the barfing — more burping during feedings, which really just meant more barfing; less movement during and after feedings; sleeping on an incline… We even took him to the doctor to make sure nothing was wrong.
Nope! He’s totally fine — just pro at barfing.
Now, at three months old, he spits up less often and usually in less quantity. But, just last week, he barfed so fantastically after his morning meal, I was coated from shoulder to foot!
And it was disgusting.
Drool is new for my son. He’s not cutting teeth yet so his drool is all-on-his-own saliva production fit to fill a bathtub.
My husband and I have just succumbed to the fact that our shoulders will be forever damp… from spit up or drool.
And it’s disgusting.
5. Skin folds
Babies have a lot of skin, but they do not have the mass to fill the skin at birth — so they end up with folds.
Except for a little more squish in my midsection and the disappearance of my derriere — a phenomenon known as “mum bum” — the look of my body has returned to its pre-pregnancy state. At least when it’s covered in clothes that… still… mostly… sort of fit.
Cheers for elastic waists!
If you were to see me without a shirt, however, you’d see some remaining marks of pregnancy: The slowly fading stretch marks across the front and sides of my stomach and the super slowly fading linea nigra — the line that some women get from naval to pubic bone during pregnancy. Lucky me, my line started at my rib cage.
And it’s crooked to boot.
Regardless, my body is at its new normal, fully recovered from the C-section with a few scars. Since I’m not pregnant anymore, my body is also yoga-ready!
Yoga is like riding a bike. You don’t forget the postures; it’s easy to fall back into the flows.
I expected — and encountered — stiffness, tightness, shakiness. My back doesn’t bend the way it used to. My hamstrings are tightly wound cords. My balance… well, there’s another carryover from pregnancy, but my body still knows what to do.
What I didn’t expect was the awkwardness of my fingers and toes.
When before my toes could hug the mat, gripping it for stabilization and strength, now it’s as if they’re stuck in glue. In yoga, you’re supposed to be able to move through space while grounded — wiggly toes required. When before my fingers could bear the weight of my body in Upward Dog, now they bend and break from the slightest weight of a high Cobra.
It’s amazing what falls apart when you stop practicing.
Instead of going straight back to power yoga, which might kill me, I’ve been doing short flows I collected online while I was pregnant.
…I say it that way because I joined the League last year, but last year’s not over yet.
Anyway, I spent my new member year learning about the League — how it works, what it does, etc. — and I’m excited to start my first active year working for the League’s focus since 2011: Combating child abuse in the Wichita area through awareness, prevention and intervention.
The League works with several area organizations, including the Child Advocacy Center, as well as area elementary schools to combat child abuse. For example, we work with social workers in schools to present our “Someone to Talk To” Puppet Show to third and fourth grade classrooms to have conversations about physical and sexual abuse and to encourage children to talk to someone if they’re being abused. The League also manages and sponsors childabusewichita.org.
We kicked off the cause this year by “planting” blue pinwheels at Bradley Fair, wearing blue (#whyblue) and carrying our trash bag hand bags (#trashbaghandbag).
Blue is the color of Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and the pinwheel is supposed to represent childhood.
And it’s a pretty good representation. If you’ve ever seen a large quantity of pinwheels spinning in the wind — the Kansas wind — all at once, your inner child will celebrate gleefully. Because it’s really fun, and there’s no way to explain it other than…
Other than squealing.
Like a little kid.
So Junior League of Wichita women wore blue and covered Bradley Fair in pinwheels. They let us; we didn’t just stuff them in the ground willy-nilly.
Throughout the month, Junior League of Wichita will continue its work with area organizations who work to prevent child abuse. This week, we’re carrying blue trash bags in place of our usual handbags — mine will be in addition to the bag I carry with my pumping supplies and my diaper bag (if I’ve got a baby in tow) — to raise awareness about the struggles children removed from the home face.
Often, when children are placed in protective custody, their belongings are put in a trash bag. We believe these kids deserve better than trash bags so #trashbaghandbag not only raises awareness about this issue, but it also collects donations to purchase duffel bags with clothes, journals, personal hygiene care items and gift cards for these children. ICT SOS, a Wichita organization committed to fighting human trafficking, will help assemble and distribute the duffel bags to local hospitals and agencies where social workers can give them to children in the community.
Donations can be made at jlwichita.org/support, by clicking the “Donate” button next to the name of one of the #trashbaghandbag campaign ambassadors. I’m going to put in the plug for Junior League of Wichita president-elect Laura Roddy.
Each duffel donation is valued at $75-$100 so, if you give $75-$100, you’re giving an entire bag to a child in our community. How great is that?! Maybe you work in an office or on a team of 10 employees. If each of you donate $10, you’re office or team has just created an entire bag. Easy!
Or you can wear blue and raise awareness with #whyblue. My closet has one blue shirt (that still fits) so I’m going to carry the blue trash bag this week — to the grocery store, to work, to the coffee shop, to lunch — and tell everyone I see everything I just wrote.
Children deserve better than trash bags, and, together, we can combat child abuse in our community.
When do you switch from counting weeks to counting months? I stopped counting days when I got to one week so I suppose I should stop counting weeks after one month.
He is two months old; I am eight weeks postpartum. For C-section ladies, eight weeks is the magic number of weeks for recovery.
I don’t know why.
I do know that I have “recovered.”
My stitches dissolved. I’m cleared to do light weight lifting, (whatever) gentle yoga (is) and some cardio, such as walking. I’m allowed to climb stairs regularly and lift things heavier than the baby. You know, like the baby in his car seat, which weighs exactly 300 pounds. I’m also officially cleared to drive… but I’ve been doing that for weeeeks.
Not on pain killers? Back in the driver’s seat. Girl’s got places to be.
Speaking of pain…
The consistent sharp cutting pain I felt during the first three weeks postpartum is gone — so is the consistent dull throbbing pain I felt in the weeks following.
Now, the only “pain” I feel comes from pressure on the incision site.
Which means ALL of my structured pants and skirts from pre-pregnancy hurt me because they put pressure against the incision site so I guess I don’t have to worry about fitting into them again… yet.
Which is good, because I don’t have the time or energy to add a workout routine to my day… to my week. I might be able to pull off a trip to the gym once every two weeks — and I’ll be doing NORMAL yoga in my NORMAL class, if baby and boobs cooperate, of course.
Yeah, it’s not just the baby taking up all my time and energy. I also have to contend with my boobs.
Every spare second of waking up early in the morning is spent — you guessed it — pumping, and every spare second of waking up late in the morning is spent — oh, yeah — still pumping.
For instance, while writing this blog at 5:15 a.m., I’m — yup! — pumping.
I’ve got an overactive set of milk producers over here (I’m not worried about not producing enough anymore). I’ve also got a hungry baby who recently when through a tremendous growth spurt — mostly in the head region, adding two inches to its circumference and setting himself solidly in the 99th percentile for head size.
So I don’t have the time…
…waking up earlier doesn’t work either. For instance, again, I’ve been awake since 4 a.m. — first feeding the baby, and then pumping.
Plus, I have to wash my pump parts after every use. There’s only like six pieces so I’m not going to run them through the dishwasher. I’m hand-washing these babies, which takes up even more of my morning.
By now, it’s 6:45 a.m., and I have to get ready for work. (But the baby woke up again, and he’s hungry.)
So I don’t have the energy…
…there is not enough caffeine, there are not enough calories I can consume.
Oh yeah, whoever decided you don’t have to increase your calorie intake while breastfeeding — and I’ve heard people say this — is a jerk.
I have to increase my calorie intake because, now, I’m literally eating for two. I have to feed me, and then I have to feed him. with. the. same. food.
Luckily, the person who decided you don’t have to increase your calorie intake while breastfeeding is also wrong. I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and not gain weight.
Want to know why?
Turning roast chicken into breast milk burns calories. Lots and lots of calories.
So I don’t care.
I. do. not. care.
The only thing that can get me on a regular workout schedule without time and energy is money… for the nanny, the housekeeper and personal cook I would need to get time and energy enough to incorporate a workout into my daily routine.
I’m not never going to work out again. I will fit into all those pants and skirts hanging in my closet again — mostly because I don’t want to buy new ones — but my body will never look like it did before pregnancy.
Stretch marks cannot be exercised or dieted away — and we all know I’m not going to diet. My scar will fade, but it will always pinch the skin to pucker. My skin will probably remember, at some point, that we’ve already gone through puberty. My hair will grow back… my hair will grow back my hair will grow back my hair will grow back…
I gained 41 pounds during pregnancy, most of which was water weight that fell off entirely after two weeks. One night I sweat soaked the sheets, peed for five minutes in the morning, and it was gone! Additional weight loss I attribute to breastfeeding because it burns calories.
Lots and lots of calories.
At eight weeks postpartum, I’m five pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. A weight at which I was happy. A weight at which I fit into pants and skirts without elastic waists. A weight at which I do not plan to work for right now.
Instead, I’m going to try to go to yoga every other Saturday morning because I’ve missed it immensely.
Instead, I’m going to eat Cool Ranch Doritos and Greek salads because I love Cool Ranch Doritos and I can tolerate leafy green vegetables again.
Instead, I’m going to spend my free evening hours between dinner and dream feed snuggling with my son.
Today is International Women’s Day, and women across this country will celebrate by participating in A Day Without a Woman — taking a day off from paid and unpaid labor; purchasing no goods unless from a small-, woman- or minority-owned business; and (or) wearing red in solidarity.
I guess, with an infant at home, I won’t be taking the day off from unpaid labor either. He requires a lot of labor (and it’s all of love).
Last night, I attended a Junior League of Wichita Diversity & Inclusion Committee panel discussion with local female leaders in the community — some truly amazing women from public service, higher education, law, non-profit and small business ownership. The panel discussed careers, obstacles women face in the workplace, including themselves, and — a recent topic for me — “mom guilt.”
The Wichita Eagle recently compiled a collection of survey responses from women in the workplace: Wichita women talk about workplace obstacles, which addresses obstacles, such as maternity leave, breastfeeding and child care — all things we talked about in last night’s panel discussion.
I almost did not attend the panel discussion, even though I’d been looking forward to it for a month, because of mom guilt. My husband had been home all day with our son who was suffering from gas and discomfort.
So he was fussy.
When I got home, I nursed him, burped him and gave him back to my husband so I could leave again.
He was still fussy.
My husband told me to go knowing I’d stand there staring at them with keys in hand fretting… and feeling guilty.
“Mommy guilt is real,” the panel agreed, and it’s a challenge women face in the workplace, in our home life and in our relationships.
One woman said, when her children were young, she feared the Kindergarten teacher would judge her seeing her son in the same T-shirt two days in a row “because we like that T-shirt” and some mornings can be difficult.
Another woman lamented about being asked how she could open her own business and plan her son’s birthday party at the same time.
“I can do it,” she told them.
Whether it’s the guilt we put on ourselves or the guilt we put on each other, listening to these women talk about their own mommy guilt assuaged my fears leaving my son — missing developmental milestones, not being there to comfort him, not being there to feed him.
I am going to miss things happening in his life, and that’s OK. He’s going to be OK. One of the women made a point to say: “You’re children will be fine.”
A small business owner on the panel with four children said she couldn’t do what she did every day — working, managing her business, mom-ing — without her husband. As a woman, a business owner and a mother, she wasn’t doing it all all of the time all alone.
Her message was of support — whether from a spouse, a family member or a community.
Years ago, I wrote about how my village raised me. Today, my village empowers me to be a mother, a wife and a woman.
Without the women and men who support me, throughout my pregnancy (and during the fourth trimester, especially), I could not do what I do every day — working, writing, mom-ing.
My husband, who is an amazing husband to me and father to our baby…
My mother, who taught me hard work and who loves my son so much…
My mother-in-law, who gives and gives of her time so my husband and I can go to work knowing our son is in good hands and loving arms…
My sister-in-law, who flew in just to meet him (and make us dinner — thank you!)…
My friends, who called or texted to check in on me weekly after he was born…
The women who gave so generously of new and used baby gear so I didn’t have fork over an arm and a leg to keep him diapered, clothed and soothed…
The women who became my tribe and who never passed judgement on me or my decisions.
I went to work this morning.
Because — even though I went to work — I stand with women.
I woke late Thursday morning. Too late to take a shower, style my hair and make myself more presentable for my first day back at work.
To make up for it, I put lipstick on.
Going back to work last Thursday was a lot like ripping off a Band-Aid. For the first few moments, it hurt; but the pain faded, and I didn’t feel it again — not that I couldn’t wait to go home to squeeze my baby and hold him until bed (which is exactly what I did).
My husband walked me to the door with my son still snoozy in his arms. Walking out the door hurt, but the hurt faded as I drove, and it was gone once I sat down to check my email for the first time in six weeks.
I felt OK.
And I didn’t feel guilty for feeling OK.
Over the weekend, my boss and coworkers hung curtains over the large, inward-facing window in my office so I can close up shop when I need to pump, and I taped printer paper on the two small windows that face out into the parking lot. An “Open/Closed” sign and a lock on my door round out the perfect “Mother’s Room.”
I love not needing to leave my desk. Pumping is boring enough without the added hassle of setting up in some other room without anything else to do.
You know, like when I pump at 2 a.m.
That Thursday, I think I pumped nearly 30 ounces <– Not an overstatement. It’s like my boobs knew I was leaving him.
My coworkers took me out Friday, too, to welcome me back. I, of course, selected my favorite place to grab lunch — Public Old Town.
I also got new head shots taken Friday during Pink Portrait Day with corporate photographer Kacy Meinecke.
All proceeds went to benefit ICT SOS, an organization founded to fight human trafficking. Not only a fabulous photographer, also a fabulous person.
I didn’t just go back to work last week. I think I went back to “Shae” a little, too.
Emails, voicemails, proposals and projects? Check.
Lunch at a foodie hot spot? Check.
Sassy face photos with bright red lipstick? Check.