Thursday, April 10, 2014

The First Year

I can't recall the date, or even the month, or really even what year it was, but sometime after Lukas turned 1 but before I was pregnant with Julian, a close friend and I met for drinks at some random bar at Atlantic Station.  No, now that I think about it, I was pregnant with Julian because I ordered an orange juice (great memory I've got here, really).  Anyway, we were sitting at the bar and I was eating a flat bread pizza and we were talking about working and life and trying to find the balance.  And in that conversation I remember discussing with her how it is a bad idea to make any major life changes in the first year of your baby's life.  And the one I was talking about specifically was work.  And more precisely, not quitting it.  I don't recall what lead to this conversation or where I was in my emotional well-being (or lack thereof) at the time, but this conversation has been ringing in my ears lately.
The first year with a new baby is hard stuff.  There's the lack of sleep; the teething; the uncertainty of what you're doing; the worry; the breastfeeding and leaky boobs and plugged ducts; the never-ending flow of laundry; the changing postpartum body and daily question of what in my closet fits today; there's a lot of poop; sometimes there's colic; did I mention the lack of sleep?; there's runny noses and daycare sniffles; and it's all wrapped in a shiny bow of postpartum hormones.  This is hard stuff without the added layer of working outside the home.  (And I don't say that to incite any mommy war on SAHM vs. working mom, they're both rough, but for purposes of this blog post and my life, I can only give the working mom perspective on this one, um-kay?) 
I remember the first year with Lukas was hard for all the above-mentioned reasons.  And I think a first baby comes along with its own brand of difficulty that lucky you don't experience the second time around because you are just a bit more relaxed.  You know it all works out and the baby will do what the baby will do regardless of your good intentions.  But this working mom thing has been equally as hard the second time around.  And I'm trying to remember that conversation with my friend about not making major changes in the first year of a baby's life.
When the baby is itty bitty, it's hard to hand them over to someone else every day and be apart from them.  I don't think it matters who your caregiver is - I adore Julian's teachers at Primrose and have all the faith in them to take care of him and love him.  I honestly wouldn't feel any "better" about being away from him all day, every day if he were being watched by my mom or even my husband.  It's the fact that I, his mommy, am not with him for the majority of our day. There are plenty of days where I sit in my office staring at his pictures and ask myself why I'm doing this.  Being apart is just hard on the heart when they're so tiny. 
And the breastfeeding.  Oh the breastfeeding.  Actually, its the pumping while working that is a pain.  Having to stop working 2 or 3 times a day, hook up to my machine and literally milk my boobs like a cow, is disruptive to getting work done and frustrating because my body has decided it can't make enough milk to keep up with my little guy's eating schedule, so I have to supplement with formula anyway.  I often wonder why I bother continuing to breastfeed if he's getting formula, but I can't seem to get over the hump and quit.  Perhaps I'm worried about the hormonal shift that comes along with weaning and the possible post-weaning depression that might await me again.
And I'm tired.  Julian is still not consistently sleeping through the night.  I'd say he's 50/50 for sleeping all night long versus waking once a night to eat.  So half of my days at work have me feeling like a zombie and I'm sure it takes me twice as long to do anything due to the lack of sleep.  I'm not at my most efficient, that's for sure. 
I could really use a 25th hour in the day.  Preferably spent working out for 30 minutes and playing with the boys for 30 minutes, as most of my days don't allow enough time for those important activities.  I wish I had more time.  I want more time with the boys.  I want more time for myself.  I want to fit in my jeans again.  I want to go running outside and blare my crappy music loudly.  I want to go to a yoga class. I want to make Julian laugh and hear him yell MAMA MAMA MAMA over and over again.  I want to read books with Lukas.  I want to pretend to be superwoman while he runs around the house in his Spiderman outfit.  I want to make a floury mess in the kitchen while cooking dinner with Lukas.  I want to dance around the house holding on to both boys.  I want to do this every day.  But there's just not enough time between 6:15 when we get home from work/school and 7:45 when its bedtime for the boys.  1.5-2 hours an evening isn't enough time.  And this is the working mom struggle I'm yet again feeling so strongly.
I know it will lessen as my baby becomes a toddler.  I know that from experience this time, which is more than I knew when Lukas was an infant.  But juggling it all is hard.  And sometimes I just feel like all the balls have fallen on the ground and that I'm a complete failure.  But even worse is the constant wonder and worry if I'll look back on this time and regret the choices that I've made.  Maybe playing in the kitchen is more important than the kitchen you're playing in.  I know that my career is more than just the money I make and the things that money allows us to buy.  I've worked hard to be where I am.  The degrees and debt say this is true.  If it weren't for the degrees and the debt I think it'd be a lot easier to walk away and decide that time with my children supersedes everything else.  I just don't know.
For now, I keep telling myself that it is the quality rather than the quantity of time with the boys that matters.  I think there is truth to that, but I also think it's partially something I say to get myself to accept being away from them all day.
I think that I just never realized how truly strong my love for my children was going to be.  I didn't know how life altering having them would be.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true.  Those two boys have changed me.  And there is nothing in my world as important as the two of them.  So I just hope I'm doing what's best for them.  Which is what is at the root of my questioning - what is best for them?  And is it the same thing that is best for me?  I have absolutely no idea.


  1. Oh man Ryan. Hugs!! Being a mom is so life-altering, it's brought me to a level of self-reflection I didn't know was possible. As you guys look for a new house - maybe you could look for something that would lessen your need for two salaries?? Maybe buying a really modest house would give you more financial wiggle room (and less guilt) if you made that decision one day? You are an amazing mom to those lucky boys. And an amazing woman for that lucky man. ;) Love y'all!

  2. Love this post. I don't have any answers. I have more questions than answers, as usual. But remember that what's best for the boys is probably what's best for you. Happy mamas are better mamas. And also keep in mind that nothing is permanent. You can change your mind and change your mind again, and change it a thousand more times. And finally, just keep swimming. We'll figure it out someday, right?!? You may feel confused and doubtful, but your boys are happy, sweet, smart, and so much more. Just keep swimming!

  3. I went back to work last week, so this really hit home. Hugs!