Calling all working moms

I read an article on Huffington Post yesterday about things you shouldn’t say to working moms.

I agree with and have heard all of these things in my short tenure as a Working Mom. I’d like to add to this list my most favorite comment I hear from meddling well to doers.

“Oh it must be nice to get a break and not be a full time mom.”

Um. Okay.

Sure, I’m away from my kid 8 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean I stop being a mom to her. And I definitely don’t get a break. I’m at work, which let me tell you, does not condone nap time, pedicures, or reading US Weekly while drinking a latte or other things generally associated with “taking a break.” It’s work. And it’s usually a huge pain in my ass. I work with the general public, so it also usually means dealing with general stupidity. So no, it’s not a “break”. It’s work.

I’m also multitasking, doing “mom” things, like calling the doctor, making appointments, making lists, making sure Amazon is going to ship A’s diapers on time, worrying about her general well being. Things like that. When I’m at work, I’m always thinking about A while trying to be a productive employee. Not only am I still a full time mom, but I’m a full time employee too.

(I don’t say this to imply SAHMs have it easier. I don’t think that at all. I think our jobs are equally difficult in different ways.)

I’ve given up a lot to support my family. Could we make it work on one income? Probably. It would mean a lot of scrimping and saving, a lot of worrying about finances. It would also mean losing the valuable group health insurance my job provides. I’ve priced out private vendors, and we’d be paying equal to what daycare costs for all of us to be covered (maybe it would be different with Obamacare? Not sure). All without a second income. So me not working really isn’t a feasible option right now.

Because I work, I’m excluded from a lot of local mom circles who meet during the day. For instance, the local La Leche League meets on Fridays. In the morning. When I’m at work. I would have really liked to attend meetings, especially when I was really struggling with breast feeding, but I can’t because I work.

It seems that most “mommy groups” are skewed to SAHMs. I’ve found some kindred spirits in the moms of A’s playmates at day care, but I often forget what an awesome tool the Internet is. So I’m putting out a call to all working moms, near and far. If you’re a working mom now or going to be one soon, let’s be pals. There’s strength in numbers, and a few more friends never hurts. Plus I could definitely use a stronger support system of working mommy sisters, you know? Because let’s face it, we’re all going to hear the those things a lot. And even though we know we’re doing what’s best for our families, what’s best for our children, sometimes you still want a shoulder to cry on (figuratively or literally) who understands.

Positive

There are few days/moments in my life I remember every little detail to. I have a few really vivid memories of certain days, but actually remembering every moment of a day is rare. My first day of high school and college are two days I can recall (almost) perfectly (for whatever reason).

The day I found out I was pregnant is the third.

It was a Wednesday, January 25th. I woke up at around 6:00 AM, like I always did. I had to leave for work around 6:50 AM. It took me about twenty minutes to get there, which gave me plenty of time to get coffee and check my email before our morning meeting started at 7:20. I was working in a satellite office that week, which basically meant I was all by myself instead of with my co workers. After our meeting I went to that office to settle in and get to work.

All morning all something was bothering me. I was stressed out that day because I had been working for the past few months to qualify for a promotion and due to a SNAFU I wasn’t able to interview. But I also had a nagging feeling about something else.

When John and I made the decision to have a baby, I was prepared for it to take a couple months. He was pretty convinced it would happen quickly. I had already taken two pregnancy tests, one five days early (as the test advertises you can) and one two days early. Both had came back negative. I was a little disappointed at the time, but I tried not to be too bummed out.

That Wednesday I was three days late for my period. I have a history of being late, so this wasn’t a huge surprise, but the past couple of months I had been right on time. I had planned on going home for lunch so I decided to use the last pregnancy test in the three pack I had bought, just in case. I don’t think there are any three minutes longer and more nerve racking than the three minutes you must wait for a pregnancy test. Regardless of how you want it to turn out, it’s scary. I’ll never forget how big the knot in my stomach was, even though I had convinced myself it would be negative.

My timer went off. I picked up the test. My heart dropped. Pregnant. I could hardly believe it. My only thought was “Oh. My. GOD.” I immediately called John at work, knowing there was no way I would be able to contain myself long enough to plan some elaborate reveal.

I’ll never forget how I felt in that moment. When I woke up that morning I was the same old Katy I had always been, but when I went to bed I was that, plus one more. Looking back now, almost a year to the day later, I am blown away by how quickly life can change. At this point last year all I wanted was a happy, healthy baby. And now I have one.

Balancing act

I’ve been neglecting this poor little blog for the past week. I admit it, and I’m sorry for it. I don’t really have a great excuse, either. Nothing really happened except for, you know, life.

Last week was a little different in that A started daycare. It was a little intense for both of us. The first day was hard. When I left we were both in tears (me because I was leaving her, A probably not so much the same, probably just tired and cranky). But following days were better.

I am at peace with our child care decision. I love the center she goes to. Her “teachers” (that’s what they call them) are awesome, and they all really love the kids they care for. Of course, in a perfect world, I’d be able to stay home or afford a nanny. But life isn’t perfect, and sometimes you just have to accept things the way they are. I’ve come to be content with the fact I will always be a working mom in some regard. Maybe I won’t always have to work outside the house, but right now this is the life I have. I can either hate the circumstances, or I can be thankful for them. I have a good job that allows me to help support my family. It allows me to cover my family should anything happen. These things come at a price, though, and that’s time spent with my child. It sucks, but I’ve said before its’ the quality of time, not the quantity of time, that matters.

I guess I’ve always known life is a balancing act, but I am a little clumsy. I keep thinking as I get older things will get easier or make more sense or something, but they don’t. If anything it gets harder and more complicated. I tend to get caught up in the details of things and forget to just sit back and enjoy it every once in a while. I don’t want A to fall into that habit, so it’s important to me I remember to smell the roses, so to speak.

Anyway, the point of this stream of consciousness is to say it should be easy for me to post regularly from here out because I am sticking to my “write everyday” goal. I have several posts drafted, some even completed. So, theoretically, I should post at least every other day. I really like what I’ve got going on over here. I love writing this blog. I love the little community I’m starting to build. I want to commit to it fully. I’m hoping now that we’re in the swing of things and I seem to be on the mend from an AWFUL stomach bug I had over the weekend, I’ll be able to.

And just because I haven’t posted any pictures of our sweet Baby A recently, here she is, playing our new game: What can mommy do to make A laugh? The answer: Anything. Funny faces, funny noises, smiles, laughing, talking, whatever. I even made my “mad face” at her yesterday (that’s the face I make at John whenever he does something that annoys or irritates me), and it made her laugh. Y’all, I don’t think this kid is ever going to take me seriously.

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5 things that make motherhood easier (for me)

Since it’s Sunday and we are in the throes of four month sleep regression, we’re going to keep it fun and simple today. 

Motherhood is no joke y’all. While it’s a lot of fun and extremely rewarding, it’s also really, really hard. Here’s a few things I find make the every day stuff easier.

1. Keurig coffee maker

As a coffee drinker, this is the best coffee maker I have ever had. Most days I survive off of coffee, especially now since we’re back to not sleeping a ton at night (four month sleep regression, I hate you). The Keurig is fast, easy, and convenient especially since John doesn’t drink coffee. I know some people argue it’s more expensive, but seeing as I used to brew half a pot because it was easier to measure, then throw most of that away, for me it evens out.

2. Smart phone or tablet

I’ve mentioned before how much I rely on my iPhone, but I don’t think I can say it enough. I would probably cease to function without it. At the very least I would forget a lot of things. I do everything on my phone: Email, draft blog posts, write grocery lists, pay bills. It’s my alarm clock, e-reader, and calendar. I wouldn’t be half as efficient without it.

3. Crock pot

I work 10-11 hours a day, so cooking often gets pushed to the side. But to keep in line with my goal of eating better, and not eating out as often, the crock pot is a lifesaver. My goal is to use it a few times a week so we can achieve optimal eating with minimal input from me.

4. Pinterest

Who doesn’t love Pinterest? I use it as a bigger, better, more organized bookmarks system. It’s my go to website when I’m looking for pretty much anything. I have gotten so many good ideas to help save time, money and sanity. Plus it answers the question, “What’s for dinner?” every time.

5. A supportive partner

This goes without saying, but it really helps when you have someone you can depend on to share the load. I’ve been lucky in that John is super helpful with everything (except maybe changing dirty diapers). He listens to me whine, plus he can get A to sleep faster than anyone.

What makes motherhood easier for you?

This is the second week in a row I’ve posted a fun little list like this, so I’m thinking I’m going to make it a weekly, Sunday Funday feature. Let me know what y’all think.

Also, Keurig did not sponsor this post, but if they would ever like to, I would be totes interested, Keurig! Holla at your coffee addict!

Letting go of mommy guilt

One of my goals for 2013 is to simply enjoy my life more. One part of that is letting go of unhealthy thoughts. I have been struggling lately with some serious mommy guilt. It seems every thing I do elicits a guilt trip.

Let me be totally clear here. I am the only one making myself feel guilty, no one else. There are environmental factors contributing, but no one is standing over me making me feel bad. The two big things I’ve been feeling guilty about are A’s feeding situation and working/daycare. When I was pregnant, I had grand illusions about exclusively breast feeding for at least six months, then starting solids, but still nursing till A was a year old.

What I didn’t count on was how difficult breast feeding would be. And how tiring it is. And I really didn’t realize how hard and time consuming pumping is. On a good day at work I get to pump three times. If I’m lucky I can get two to three ounces a session. That leaves me with, at most, nine ounces, but it’s usually closer to six. (Have I mentioned how I have to pump in my car because there’s no where in the office to pump? Awkward.)

I’m back at work full time now. A takes five to six four ounce bottles a day while I’m gone. You don’t have to be a math wiz to figure out that’s not enough to make it a whole day. I pumped three times a day, everyday for the last few weeks of my maternity leave, but since most of those sessions only yielded between an ounce to three ounces, if I used all of them now to supplement what I’m not getting, I’d be out in a week.

As a result, we have been supplementing with formula. And I feel terribly guilty about it. Formula gets a bad rap from just about everyone. And I find a lot of EBF moms to be extremely vocal about how they’ve made BFing work, and how they would NEVER use formula. Constantly hearing how others succeeded at what you failed at will make you feel guilty every time.

I’ve tried adding an extra pumping session after I get home but if I’m being honest, by the time I get done at work the last thing I feel like doing is pumping. I just want to spend time with John and A. I don’t really think it’s a supply issue; she gets plenty when she’s nursing (she’s always satisfied after nursing and has good diaper outputs when we’re at home together not bottle feeding). I don’t have the expendable income to by a new pump to see if it a different one will get more, either. My mom says she never was able to get a ton when she pumped either, so maybe it’s hereditary. I don’t know.

A also sometimes gets bottles when we’re out and about. This is mostly because I don’t particularly feel like nursing in public. I have nothing against moms who do, I just don’t really think it’s for me. I’ll nurse her in my car in between stops if we cross into feeding time, but sometimes I just pack a bottle if we’re in a time crunch. I always feel like I’m being silently judged.

I know it’s stupid to feel guilty about this. I’m still breast feeding, and what’s really important is A gets what she needs regardless of where it comes from. But I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed her in a way.

Then there’s the working mom thing. I don’t think there is a greater guilt than that of a working mother. On one hand I need to support my child and provide healthcare for her. On the other I can’t help but feel I’m abandoning her a little everyday. (On a slightly related note: SAHMs, can we call a truce and recognize our lives are equally difficult?) I know I’m being ridiculous. My mom worked when I was growing up, and I surely don’t resent her for it. A has no idea I’m not there right now, and hopefully by the time she’s having dance recitals or soccer games I’ll be either staying home or in a job with more flexibility. Right now she’s happy when she sees me, and she’s also happy when she’s with her caretakers, but I still miss her terribly.

Feeling guilty over these things is stupid and unproductive. In the end I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances, and really that’s all I can do. I may not be the world’s best mom (and really, who is?), but I am the best mom for A. I can tell by the way she looks at me, like I am the center of her universe. I can tell by the way she rests her head on my shoulder. I can tell by the way she wants only me when she is fussy. I can tell because I am her mom, and she’s healthy and happy. That’s all that really matters, anyway.

What’s in my diaper bag

I always love reading those “what’s in your diaper bag?” posts on other blogs, so I figured why not do one of my own? I’m a mom now, I have a diaper bag, and there are many things in it. I originally had another post slated for today, but after re-reading it I decided I wasn’t ready to post it yet. Plus this seemed way more fun, so here we go.

Disclaimer: I have a bad habit of not cleaning out my purses as often as I should. The same goes for the diaper bag. As a result, things sort of…accumulate. To keep this as true to life as possible I didn’t look through the bag before emptying it, so we’ll both be surprised by how much crap I haul around with us. I promise I’m not a hoarder.

The bag in question: Skip Hop’s Versa diaper bag. I like it because it doesn’t necessarily scream diaper bag. Also it has like 15 billion pockets. Okay, it’s more like ten, but still, pockets.

versaThe contents:

diaperbag

  1. Aden & Anais muslin blanket: I’ve said before I find these blankets indispensable baby items. Now that A is almost four months old, I stand by this assessment. We still use ours on a daily basis. I keep one in the bag mostly as a car seat cover, but it also doubles as a nursing cover or, you know, a swaddler (yes, we still swaddle A, some nights it’s the only way she’ll go to sleep).
  2. Things you put in the freezer: Left there from the last time I had a bottle with us and needed to keep it cool.
  3. Various mommy/baby hygiene products: Alcohol swabs left over from before she lost the umbilical cord stump (! yes that was like 3.5 months ago), hand lotion, chap stick, hand sanitizer, and Desitin.
  4. Baby Au Lait Nursing Cover: I could probably not carry this all the time, since I could use the A&A blanket. But I always forget to take it out. And when I put everything back in, it went right back in too. Oh well. I like it.
  5. Toys and teethers: All completely pointless because A doesn’t have a ton of interest in them yet, but we take them everywhere, anyway. Rattle, links, Sophie the Giraffe ring teether, and Lifefactory ring teether.
  6. Baby accessories: A’s aviator cap and a random pair of socks.
  7. All the wipes you could ever need: Baby wipes, face/hand wipes, pacifier wipes.
  8. Actual diapers: Currently carrying four (4) Pamper’s Baby Dry diapers.
  9. Trash and bags: Dirty diaper bags, random Wal-Mart bag shoved in there when I was out of dirty diaper bags, receipt from dinner the other night, coupon for free prints from Shutterfly (now expired).
  10. Kind of useless wallet: I got a card wallet in my stocking for Christmas, so that’s where I keep all my debit/credit cards and driver’s license. This wallet has my check book and all my rewards cards (I could do a whole other post on my reward card addiction. It’s big and it’s a problem. If a store has a reward program, I’m probably a member. Even if I’ve only shopped there once, and went for a very specific thing, knowing I’d probably never go back, if the cashier said the magic words, “Are you a member of (insert reward program here)?” I would/will sign up). You’ll notice the wallet I actually use is missing. It’s in my purse because I had to go in to work yesterday.
  11. More personal hygiene stuff: Tissues and a pad left over from before I could use tampons postpartum.
  12. Binkys: Four (4) binkys of various brands. It doesn’t matter what they are because none of them get used anymore since A has become A Thumbsucker.
  13. Bibs and burp clothes: One (1) teething bib (we are currently in Drool City, population: Us), two (2) burp clothes, because one never seems to be enough.

Things missing from the diaper bag we actually do carry and use:

  • Pierre the Peacock: Actually this toy is called Jacques the Peacock (but alliteration is more fun than forced rhyme), and it’s one of those sensory toys by Lamaze. A. Loves. This. Toy. It goes where we go, but she plays with it at home too.
  • A change of clothes: Since she’s growing like the fast and furious, and because Louisiana weather is so erratic in the winter, these get rotated a lot. Also she had a wardrobe change while we were out a while ago, and I forgot to replace it. Oops.
  • Flip camera: I use my iPhone for still photos on-the-go, but the flip camera is better for video.

So that’s our diaper bag. If you’re curious, the only things I removed from the bag were the things you freeze, the binkys, the receipt form dinner, the expired coupon, and the Wal-Mart bag. Everything else went right back in. You never know when you’re going to need something.

What’s in your diaper bag? What is absolutely essential for you?