Everything’s Changing…

When you find out that you’re going to have a baby, one thing you will hear over and over again is, “Everything is about to change!” or, “Your life will never be the same!”  When people would say this to me I would respond, “Oh I know!” with a smile on my face.  But I didn’t really know.  I mean, I knew that my life would change, I just didn’t know the specific ways in which it would change.  Here I am, 7 weeks in to parenthood (is my baby girl really almost 2 months old?!), very aware of the ways my life has changed.   So I thought I would share some of them with you :):

Here is an example of getting ready to leave in the morning pre-baby:

  • wake up to alarm
  • enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while watching TV or reading
  • get dressed
  • put on makeup
  • tousle my hair with some product (I’ve always been more of a night-time showerer)
  • grab my bag and walk out the door.

Total time: 1 hour.

Here is an example of getting ready to leave in the morning post-baby:

  • wake up to baby monitor
  • attempt to drink coffee while feeding baby, but fail
  • finish feeding baby, then reheat coffee
  • baby needs a diaper change so I put down the coffee to go change her.
  • reheat coffee a 2nd time.
  • baby spits up everywhere, so I go change her outfit
  • reheat coffee a 3rd time.
  • Realize I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, so put baby in her bouncy seat and get a bowl of cereal
  • baby starts getting fussy so I put cereal down to go console her
  • come back and cereal is soggy.  Oh well, eat it anyway.
  • Pump a bottle for later in the day, since we will be out for coffee in the afternoon with friends (and I do not yet have the guts to nurse in public, even with the little cape thing).
  • Decide not to shower for the sake of saving time, but baby spits up in my hair, so I have no choice.
  • take the quickest possible shower and pray that baby enjoys her bouncy seat for a little while
  • Get out of the shower and get half of my makeup on, but baby needs another diaper change (she HATES being dirty…but loves getting her diaper changed, which is really cute)
  • Finish changing diaper, put baby in her cradle and finish applying my makeup.
  • Start drying my hair, but baby decides that she is suddenly really unhappy with her cradle and needs a change of scenery.
  • Try to find something to keep baby happy, and finally finish drying my hair.
  • Start straightening my hair and realize that all my clothes that still fit are in the washing machine, so pause on doing my hair, throw the clothes in the dryer, and pray they will be done before I have to walk out the door (we don’t want to be a repeat offender on the no pants situation… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my baby brain stories in one of my pregnancy posts…)
  • Finish straightening my hair and baby is hungry again
  • Feed baby and finish at 12:26, when I have to be out the door by 12:30 and realize I haven’t eaten any lunch yet!.

Total time: 2 and a half hours.  And this the account of an actual day last week.

If you want to hang out sometime and I ask if we can meet at my apartment, please give me the grace to be “that” mom…

OK let’s see, other changes…

Oh yea, there’s that to-do list on my fridge that stares at me with an evil look, laughing and mocking me every time I walk by it.  Pre-baby, I would make daily to-do lists.  Now, it’s looking like a monthly thing… maybe longer.  I’ll let you know once I’ve actually completed one.  Or even checked more than one thing off of it, for that matter!

Reading my Bible, working out, showering, napping, house chores.  I used to just try and figure out in which order I would do these things each day.  Now I have to figure out which one of these things I will do in a given day.  I might be able to do 2 things on that list if it’s a good day! But I always have to let a few of them go every day.  Talk about learning how to prioritize!  This may be the first time in my life that I have really understood that as a challenge.  There have been plenty of times in my life where I thought it was hard to balance priorities… and then I had a baby!   And with that reality, sometimes naps just need to take precedent ;-).

Which leads me to the next super obvious one: sleep.  Let’s just go ahead and start with evenings in general.  We’ve just started putting Riley down for the night at 8 or 8:30 in attempt to cultivate healthy sleep habits and more routine.  The process of putting her to bed can sometimes be up to an hour or longer, since she has recently decided to fight sleep even when she is obviously exhausted.  So if friends want to hang out and have a game night or what have you, it’s tricky to figure out how that coincides with baby and bed time.  Especially since even if we decide to let her stay up a bit longer, she’s just going to be a cranky pants (yes I say things like that now, go ahead and add that one to the list ;-)).  And then of course, once we finally get her down in her crib, we know she will be waking up again around 12 or 1, 3 or 4, and 6 or 7.  Thankfully, Jordan is amazing and takes one of the feedings, so we usually each end up getting up once with her in the night.

Cleaning the apartment.  There are no longer “cleaning days.”  Instead, it’s more like “cleaning moments.”  A counter-top here, a floor there, a toilet here, run the vacuum through one room there… over the course of several days.

Going anywhere for more than 2 hours.  Breastfeeding is such a commitment and takes a lot of planning.  If I know I’m going to be out and about during one of her feeding times or I will be out longer than a couple of hours, I have to plan accordingly with pumping.  A lot more planning goes into doing everything now.

Drinking wine.  One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is to enjoy a glass of wine!  I’m thankful that I can do this, now that I am no longer pregnant.  But planning also goes into this, since I have to wait a couple of hours after drinking alcohol before I can nurse again.  So typically I wait until after Riley’s 7 or 8pm feeding and then it’s, “Quick! This is my only time frame to have a glass!” And I have to finish it in an hour.

There is also the new “start-and-stop” pattern of my life.  Start an email.  Start making the bed.  Start reading a book.  Start watching an episode.  Start catching up with a friend over the phone.  Start a blog post (I’ve tried this one a few times, it was a big deal to finally get past the title!) It seems to be a miracle if any of these things come to completion! Many things must be left to be finished later… whenever “later” is ;-).

But the most important way my life has changed is my capacity to love.  I never knew I could love this much.  And not just with Riley.  I never knew I could love my husband this much.  There were times in pregnancy that I was worried about how our marriage would change with a baby.  Things will never be the same, it will never be just the two of us.  But now that she is here I’m glad it won’t be, because it has been so much richer with the 3 of us.  Having a baby with Jordan has made me love and appreciate him more than I could have dreamed possible.

Parenthood has taught me both how selfish I am, and how selfless I can be. Now that my life and schedule are constantly at the mercy of a child, I realize just how much my life and schedule have always been all about me.  I am not used to having to be so sacrificial and serving; but I also never knew that I would have the instinct to abandon any of my own needs so instantly to care for another.  Motherhood brings out a fierce protector/provider instinct that I never knew I had.

A friend of mine (shout out Megan Katherine) recently said it best: “Motherhood is impossible to describe accurately.  The words never seem strong enough and you can’t quite convey your emotions to the degree that they exist.” I could never explain in any blog how much I love Riley Grace Maroon and how much I love being her mom.

One of my favorite memories with Riley was the week before Christmas.  We went with Jordan to his staff conference, where  we had a little apartment suite and while Jordan was in meetings during the day, it was just Riley and I with no TV, cable or internet.  I couldn’t get over how much I just loved being with her in the quiet, stillness of our days there together.  She is beautiful and incredible.  It is crazy how when I feel like I need space and alone time and Jordan watches her while I go out for a bit, I miss her and think about her the whole time.  Or how after a night of little sleep and lots of fussing, she can look up at me with one smile and I instantly forget how hard the whole night was or how tired I feel and all I can think about is blessed or in love I am.

I’ll leave you with a picture of one more way my life has changed:

I am no longer the primary person that I accessorize ;-).

My First Mom’s Group Experience

Over the span of my 41 week pregnancy I spent a lot of time thinking about life after baby as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom).  One theme that kept arising in conversations with other SAHMs (or just moms in general) and in books I read was the need for community and support.  So I decided early on that I would try to get involved in some sort of local MOMs group.  The thought of it really excited me!  I loved the idea of meeting other people in this same life phase to go through it with, but also to make friends that I otherwise would not know.  So you can imagine my excitement when I got an email from the instructor from the birthing classes Jordan and I took, saying that she was leading a new Moms group and that we could join for free if we took her birthing classes.  Last Tuesday was the first meeting I could go to and I couldn’t wait!

The day before the first meeting, I started feeling excited and nervous.  It felt like the first day of high school all over again!  I started asking Jordan questions like, “How do I carry Riley into the meeting?  Should I just carry her? Or bring her in a sling or baby carrier? Carry her in the car seat?  Put the car seat in the snap & go stroller?  What if I bring her in the stroller, but then there are stairs in the building that I have to go up or down?  Or what if I carry her in the car seat, but the other moms all have slings or baby carriers and judge me as if I don’t want to be close to my baby?  But what if I carry her in a sling or baby carrier, but then get uncomfortable or hot and sweaty… or worse, what if I can’t figure out how to get Riley out of it and look like an idiot?!  Oh I wish I knew what the other moms are doing… maybe I’ll get there early, sit in the parking lot and wait and see what the other moms do.”

Yes, that conversation really happened and those  concerns were real.  Go ahead and judge me, but only if you’re a new mom too ;-).

I know you’re at the edge of your seat right now wondering, “What did she end up doing?! How did she carry Riley into the meeting?”  Well, so much for getting there early and watching the other moms…  I still have yet to figure out how to get out of the apartment and get anywhere on time with baby gear or last minute diaper or feeding needs that arise right as I am about to leave (I swear it happens every single time!).  So I was 20 minutes late and had to figure out what to do on my own.  I decided to just carry in the car seat, because Riley was asleep and I didn’t want to risk waking her.  When I walked into the room (once I finally found it, after walking around a huge building lost, with my arms killing me from hauling baby and car seat), I was relieved to discover that every single other mom had also carried their baby in the car seat as well.  Phew :).

It was a bit awkward to walk in mid conversation, especially considering it was my first week  (the other moms had already met twice).  It only got more awkward when I discovered that there is a topic they address each week, and last week’s topic just happened to be, “Preparing to go back to work.”  Not really relevant to my life.  Which is OK, but what can I add to a discussion when all the moms are going around sharing fears, concerns, and how hard it is to think about going back to work?  I’m pretty sure the last thing they wanted to hear was that I don’t have to think about going back to work, but just came to the group discussion on it anyway.  So I was silent the whole time.  I was hoping that maybe the conversation would take a different direction, and it finally did: sleep deprivation.  Great, something I can relate to! I’m tired!  We all have babies that get up to feed during the night,  I can relate! Or so I thought.  Apparently my reality of tired and their reality of tired was a bit different.  When I say I’m tired these days, I mean that Riley got up 1 or 2 times at night to eat, get a diaper change, and then she falls right back to sleep and I average somewhere between 6-8 hours of sleep at night (in increments of course).  Not to mention the fact that Jordan and I split feedings, so I get to sleep through 1 at night while he feeds her with a bottle I’ve pumped. So really I’m actually getting more sleep (and better sleep) than I was getting at the end of my pregnancy.  Score!  But what these moms meant when they say they’re tired is that when their babies get up to feed, they will not go back to sleep.  They scream and cry, and the moms feel like they’ve tried everything but cannot figure out what works to get their baby to sleep.  They average 2-3 hours of sleep a night and they don’t pump bottles for their babies yet.

Oh… oops.

Then there was one more topic someone wanted us to discuss: inlaws.  OK, I have inlaws so maybe I can fit in more with this topic!  I love my inlaws.  We spent Thanksgiving with them and it was awesome.  I loved watching them love on Riley and my mother-in-law is coming to help me with her for a few days.  I appreciate them so much! Isn’t family great?  Except that this topic actually got some women really heated up.  Apparently they were hoping it could be a complaining/venting ground for their hard relationships with their mothers-in-law.

Oops… strike 3.

I know it is likely that Riley will hit a phase eventually when sleep becomes a little more difficult for us.  I also know that I will face many challenges being a SAHM and navigating relationships with family can get tricky no matter how much you love them or how wonderful they are;  but unfortunately I don’t think the moms in this group and I particularly hit it off last week…  At the end of the meeting they all stuck around to talk and laugh and I felt a bit like an outsider looking in.

Oh well, 1st dates are often awkward but at least they make for good stories!  In the meantime, I am keeping my eyes and ears open for other moms groups in the area! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted!