Monday, January 4, 2016

The Perfect Balance for SAHM or Working Moms

I'm a happy camper when I'm balanced.

It's like that rare Saturday afternoon when your husband ran an errand with the baby, so your house is eerily quiet, and you're confusingly free to bite into a bunch of dark chocolate, take a quick, decadent soak in the bath, or beer-bong an episode of Real Housewives. This piece of information I now have could help new moms everywhere keep their sanity as they navigate the boredom of Stay At Home Mom-ism or the exploded flour bag of Working Mom life. I have - Clark Griswold, give me that drumroll - the schedule that will save your life.

Let's say you have a baby, and try the Stay At Home Mom life. Most of us come from the workforce, and staying at home is a huge adjustment that might actually give us depression (raises hand) from not feeling like we're being productive enough. Not that you're sitting on your ass eating bonbons in front of the TV; you're actually busier than you've ever been, but never in your working life did you attach accomplishment to spooning squashed peas into a baby's mouth, or wrestling a screwdriver out of your toddler's hand. You're craving that praise or payoff that comes from career-advancing projects.

But on the other hand, let's say three months after baby's born - or, because this is the worst country for maternity leave, three weeks, even - you're breast-pumping at your cubicle, thrown full-force into emails, deadlines and "Oh, hey, Amanda, can you circle back about the synergy with the bottom line" stuff. At work, you're cut no slack for keeping a human alive by night AND fulfilling work duties by day, and then at home, not only do you try to spend quality time with the baby because you've been working all day, but since you're the lady of the house, you're likely also picking up the place, doing laundry, trying to fit in a grocery shopping run, spending tons on eating out because you're too tired to cook, using the TV to babysit so you can return a few emails...just overall trying to fit 37 hours of work into a 24 hour day. Not to mention the daily haunting that is your daycare bill - life proves just as hard as a Working Mom as a Stay At Home Mom.

So here's where my Golden Schedule comes in to save the day. What if I told you the begrudged Stay At Home Mom can get out of the house a few days a week and make a name for herself without losing all that time to do household tasks and errands, and avoiding slap-in-the-face daycare bills? And what if I told you the frazzled, guilty Working Mom can finally have time to let her hair down at home and easily have time for motherly duties, without losing the working identity and paycheck? I ain't lying' when I say this is the PERFECT scenario!

New research says Millennials are moving toward careers of part-time jobs - one, two or even three - to maintain schedule flexibility as well as fulfill different interests. Inspired by this concept, I got a part-time job, where I negotiated a 24-hour workweek, 8am - 4pm MWF. That left me Tuesdays and Thursdays free to be a Stay At Home Mom, and weekends free (when my husband is home) to spend time as a family. It is, I'm telling you, the most amazing balance of work and home. If it were switched - MWF at home and T-Th at work - it wouldn't be enough "me." And if I worked on the weekends, it would feel like I'm being robbed of valuable two-parent time and spouse time.  But this schedule gives me enough hours to make a paycheck that not only covers my son's three-day-a-week daycare, but also a little extra for savings or vacations that we wouldn't have otherwise. Not only do I feel fulfilled making money and having an identity outside the home, but also I'm less stressed when I work, knowing I'll have Tues-Thurs to get any errands done. And there's the most important factor: When I was a SAHM, sometimes I'd mentally check out amidst the household/parenting greymatter. But now that my mind gets stimulated and a break from baby MWF, I'm now 100-percent present and engaged as a mom when I'm home. That's what really makes it all worth it.

I know there are plenty of moms whose hearts explode with joy from being with baby 24/7, and also  working moms whose sharp talents would be wasted on less than 40 hours a week. But this hard-earned wisdom (took me all 16 months of my son's life to figure out, to be exact) is for the woman - more sad than not - who's stuck in thought of, "there's gotta be a better way." Well, here it is, my sweet friend, I found it, just for you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The mother of all drug withdrawals

It's really good, they say. Will stop the pain, they say. You'll have withdrawals so bad you'd think you just shared a needle with the 1997 version of Russell Brand, they (failed to) say.

Do you remember when I decided against meds to treat postpartum depression? Yeah, I paid bigtime for that. Enjoyed nearly a year of underlying agitation that, quite frankly, kept me one inch above water until I found Kratom (hello, miracle herb!). So, it's funny that when my doctor suggested an antidepressant to treat chronic pain from an injury caused in a June car accident, I said, "sign me up, Scotty!" (...or, Dr. Stone, if we're being historically accurate). Truthfully, I had trepidations about taking these meds, too, but my injury caused more agitation - hence more irritability - on TOP of PPD's just-barely healing wounds. So, I decided my family life had just been suffering too long. (What, no one wants to hang out with a bitchy mom who's taking frustrations out on her husband, neighbor, and the sink she's scrubbing till her knuckles bleed?) I have been in physical therapy for months, but still, the nerves are raw. So yes, doc, whatever you can give me (because, for some reason, white coats are WAY too scared to prescribe your regular ol' pain pill these days). So, Cymbalta, it is; to treat my nerve pain. Doctor says the "antidepressant element" of the drug is just a bonus aimed to help fish my once-decent mood from the toilet.

I take it. And it starts working. Less pain. Hardly any agitation. Extreme patience with home occupants. My husband is all in love with me all over again. But, as I have always disliked about pharmaceuticals, there are side effects. And ones that my doctor didn't bother to tell me beforehand.

-My ability to orgasm disappeared completely for the first 2-3 weeks. Ugh. That wasn't just annoying, it was scary! I thought I had lost it permanently! But of course, that didn't prevent us from trying. ;) And thank goodness we did, because it finally came back on its own.
-You are vulnerable to dangerous - even fatal - side effects if you take pretty much any other medicine, including herbal varieties, while taking Cymbalta. It was interesting that I had to find that out from the Internet that the arsenal my doctor prescribed to me - an antiinflammatory, a muscle relaxer and the Cymbalta - were all contraindicated for Cymbalta. Not to be dramatic, but I could have died at any moment.
-And now, the grand finale! The horrible, no - HORRIFIC withdrawal symptoms I suffered, even after tapering off the drug in increments, as ordered. Let me tell you about this 13-day hell.

(And this is where I'm face-palming for ever bending my life goal of no heavy pharmaceuticals...)

There's a reason for the thousands of forum threads, as well as dozens of class-action and private lawsuits.  I mean, coming off this nightmare of a drug now has its very own title, Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome, making it an official disorder.

And boy, is that warranted.

I taper off as ordered - jumping from 60mg, to 30 mg; taking the 30 every other day for two weeks. Then, I take it Oct. 8 for the last time. Two days go by, and on the night of the second day, i start getting head or nerve rushes. Like, someone is pressing a button to send waves of oxygen or medication through my brain, neck and spine. They happen every 5 or 10 minutes. When they happen, I can't keep a thought straight, therefore I can't really talk. I'm dizzy, nauseated, and scared. I take a muscle relaxer and sleep it off, thinking it's an after-effect of some intense facial dry needling I had that day.

I wake up, and the second I get out of bed, I'm grounded to the floor by an overwhelming sweep of dizziness and nausea. I turn my head and get head rushes every time, where I feel like I'm getting MDMA flashbacks or something, but not in a pleasant way. In a terrifying, "I think I'm losing control of my body" way. I'm totally bedridden, and constantly on the verge of tears. I have several random bursts of anger towards my husband where I said things that would never come out of my mouth before. My fuse is just so short. The baby crying is overwhelming. I don't know who I am, or have any motivations. My body is in excruciating pain. So, feverish and defeated, I crawl back into bed and beg my sister to come take care of the baby. I proceed to cry uncontrollably. A lot.

It's still there the next day. This time, I'm crying like every couple hours. I feel like a loser, an absent mom and wife, and hopeless. I sob to my husband, "William would be better off without me," which totally shook both of us because that sounds pretty suicidal. I call a psychiatrist. She tells me to see a doctor. I can't get into my prescribing doctor for several days so I go to a clinic. At the appointment, my son was squirming and crying and I started losing my temper but caught myself and cried instead - and the doctor looked at me like I was literally crazy.

"Do you have some Cymbalta at home? You should start taking it again," he says offhandedly.

"I don't want to do that, because I don't want to go through this again."

"Well, then let's get you on some Prozac. It has a longer half-life, so it will be an easier withdrawal process when you get off of it," he sing-songingly offers.

"Sure," I mutter, knowing damn well I'm not going to do it. Going from trying to treat a neck injury to somehow being on full-blown antidepressants? How did we get here?

Now, back to basics. Let's get this organic girl back in her groove. Fresh veggies, salmon (those Omegas!), fruit packed with antioxidants, and LOTS of water. Seriously, CHUG it (add a little lemon essential oil for extra detox help). I went to Dave's Nutrition and they recommended a blend of St. John's Wort, 5-HTP and passion flower for the brain/emotional part, chlorophyl for the body part (or any supergreen) and even some hormone regulating Vitox to help stay balanced during such a chaotic time. I busted out the bioavailable multivitamins and fish oil pills that somehow fell off my daily routine, and I think those have helped more than anything. Hot showers, acupuncture, massage, yoga, deep breathing (it really calms the nervous system)...doing all that

I'm also cheating a little bit, because there have been days where my pain is so bad, I am literally rocking back and forth because it's the only way to feel relief. I'm taking 50mg of Tramadol (pain killer) whenever it gets too much, and it always helps. I also use the muscle relaxer Soma to get to sleep. I took a Klonopin the day I had the crazy sobbing episode. So, even though I'm still using some of the chemical stuff, I read that Cymbalta withdrawal makes all other withdrawals seem "fun," so you do what you have to do.

I'm on day 13 and this has been my second "OK" day in a row. Everything's still kinda there, just not as bad. But check this out; I was smiling and laughing like my old self today! Some people in the forums say they suffered for months, so I feel very grateful to be recovering so soon (I remember feeling on day 2 just so hopeless and scared that I'd feel this way forever). I think listening to my body was the key. It needs help to get that nasty stuff out! For example, when my throat gets tight and the tension starts to claim my entire body, I chug water and it releases. Giving it what it needs. And of course, I'm now going to be super careful when approaching prescription medications. I knew more than my doctor after a few minutes on the Internet, so the next time I'm in his office, and from here on out, this is what I'm going to say:

"I have a plan for my treatment. Can I run it by you?"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rustic Modern: Our House Becomes a Home

After a year of living here, we developed a little to-do list: Open up the wall between the kitchen and living room so we may avoid playing Labyrinth every time we go from house fridge. Create more counter space in the kitchen. Reuse as much material/furniture as possible. Make everything look like "our style" (we decided a mid-century modern vibe allows us to combine our love of "rustic" and "modern"). Stay on budget, and finish fast.

Well, for under $14,000, we accomplished everything. Plus, we also managed to turn our bedroom into a - ahem - master suite.

Upon entering...

In just under four weeks, we transformed a lovely home with no flow into a show-stopping charmer with more flow than a West Coast rapper. Toddler-wrangling during a reno is tricky - we spent A LOT of time outside and visiting friends and family - but the end result was SO worth it. Here are the projects we tackled:

KITCHEN - $11, 900
1. Open up wall from kitchen to living room (we opted for a walk-through to avoid the cost of engineering a beam due to the wall's load-baring job)
2. Refinish the cabinets (we saved at least $15k be reusing instead of getting new ones)
3. New countertops (quartz, which was a little more than granite but you don't ever have to re-seal quartz).
4. Backsplash (including a subway-tile showpiece to hide a bare piece of cabinet siding)
5. Took down the pony wall behind the faucet and made that counter a nice, wide flat surface for more counter space and bar seating.




1. Added a kitchen cart in the same color as our finished cabinets to house coffee maker, giving us more counter space. $150
2. Created an additional seating area near the kitchen with a rug ($50, clearance from Target) and 2 of 5 black, leather, mid-century modern chairs we got from the classifieds ($50 for all five).
3. Painted the living room and kitchen. $1125
4. Purchased some reclaimed Stikwood panels (they stick on the wall with adhesive and are really thin so it's easy to apply) for a faux beam in the living room. $280,
5. Ottoman for living room. $35, clearance from Target
Kitchen cart houses the coffee maker, opens up counter

BEDROOM (From Yoga Studio to Master Suite)
1. Created sitting area using 2 more of the 5 chairs from our classifieds score, a rug ($75 from Target) and a lamp ($59 from Target).
2. Accessorized a pre-existing bookshelf to have a more NYC-loft vibe. $20 from Target
3. Used pre-existing screens to conceal our new (HUGE!) closet (free) and found two costume racks in the classifieds for $20.
4. Converted some iPhone photos into canvases for wall art. $50, Groupon
**PS, I still teach yoga, just on-location! And I have a nice space for my own practice in this room!



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Marriage Proposal, Kind of

I'm laying on his lap, on the couch of our creaky, (rushed-into) first apartment together. The credits of a Charlize Theron movie scroll across a late-90s model TV screen, which we ignore, just as we had done the last half of the movie. We laugh about something dumb - one of our one-act plays, maybe - and then the words force themselves out of my lips.

"I want to get married." I sound like an 8-year-old girl asking for a pony. Which is kind of the same thing.

Unmarried, in love.
We had spent our first five or so months together commiserating the failed institution of marriage, and how divorce is expensive and how people waste their lives in bad marriages and how we were SO not doing that EVER again. We were now the cool boyfriend-girlfriend, we-don't-need-a-label lovebirds with both eyes on each other instead of the future. We spend weekends riding bikes to the closest farm-to-table restaurant, or cooking a new recipe, wine in hand. We sit on the front porch - the endless stream of cars whizzing by - making teary-eyed whiskey toasts under the stars. We talk about our childhoods and why we're broken and how we saved each other from a life lived without true love.

So, even though we're both wearing "wedding rings" that we bought together at the incense-singed new-age shop, marriage to each other had never seriously come up.

"You what?" Chris laughs, "Married?"

"Yeah, I want to be married to you." I grin shyly, realizing what a bold statement I had made.

"I thought we hated marriage?" He tests.

"I changed my mind," I decide, figuring it out as I go along.

We go to bed, or pass out, shortly after that and don't talk about it till I come home from work the next day. We finish doing something in the bedroom (oh, I can't remember what) and Chris says, "We should do it!"

Intrigued, but not totally in-the-know, I say, "Yeah? What?"

"Get married!"

"Really?" I retreat inward. Do I really want to deal with the marriage/divorce red tape again? Asking my parents to come to another wedding? PLANNING another wedding?

"Yeah, let's think about it," I say, or something equally as tepid.

The next weekend, both back on the couch, Chris confesses that I'd hurt his feelings.

"I asked you to marry me the other day, and you shut me down."

Say, WHAT? I don't know if I'm more shocked or bugged. So I say, "I had no idea! There was no proposal, no ring..." Hint, hint.

"Yeah, I was asking you for real," he says.

Hint denied. So I offer, "Well, ask me again. Not now, but sometime soon."

A few hours later, I am dying to get out of the house, so I suggest we head to Red Butte Garden with a bottle of wine to watch the sunset. We walk, hand in hand, among the exotic looking ferns, and perky flowers - the aroma of fresh-misted rose water in the air. We duck into a cove with a bench and table, and tuck into our bottle of wine. The sun starts to set, and we're nuzzled into each other.

"Will you marry me?" he lists, as he looks into my eyes.

Without taking another breath, I say, "Yes."

Caught up in the moment, I don't even notice there's still no ring. The following day, I suggest that we start looking for some. We buy a couple of $100 rings and slide them nonchalantly onto our ring fingers, replacing the "wedding rings" made of hippie stones and silver. We get our marriage license a few months after that, and dream up a buddhist temple wedding in Thailand. We hurry and make it legal before we leave by having my mom drop by our apartment with our two witnesses (2 out of my four siblings) officiate a ceremony. We're still a little gunshy about letting our friends and coworkers know about our shotgun romance (some were just finding out we were divorced), so we wait a few days...dodging the obvious glances to our ring fingers and references to our giddy glow. It becomes to much to keep in, so the following weekend, we change our Facebook statuses to "married" and post a few photos. People react the same way I did when Chris first "asked" me to marry him. They are so shocked, they're almost pissed! My family is ACTUALLY pissed, because they interpret our living room "Wedding" as the real deal that only three of my family members were invited to.

An apartment wedding.
Luckily, we are on a plane to Thailand to get married for "real" (not legally, but this is our intended ceremony) and honeymoon all in one go. After a few planes, a boat and a tuk-tuk, we're on our Thai island, hiking around for a temple. We find a lonely, ancient-looking one, overrun with vines, off the beaten path, that's littered with feral dogs. Somehow, we decide it's a good idea to wander into the temple, where we find a solo monk with a big smile, welcoming arm gestures, and some free time. We kneel on what felt like the hardest stone imaginable in what felt like the thickest, muggiest heat imaginable. But we are smiling at each other with tear-brimmed eyes at every chance we get (between full, to-the-floor bows).

We never had the "talk" about marriage, babies or picket fences. We didn't have a "normal" proposal, and definitely didn't have a normal wedding. But we've loved with our whole hearts; been vulnerable, open and at many times, stubborn. We've accepted each other's dark parts because the light ones are so damn bright. We accept each other completely, and grow more patient and kind every day. I still get butterflies when 10 pm hits and I know he'll be home soon, and he still texts me love letters when we're apart. Not much about our love story has been typical, and I hope our glorious future together sings that same, offbeat tune. Because it's so effing beautiful.

A Buddhist wedding.
Happy three-year anniversary, Baby. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waving Goodbye to Wine

Oh, those interesting wind-down hours of the day, where the baby starts to get extra fussy and tired and you're TOTALLY over it, yet you feel a strange excitement for this witching hour, because that's when the oven clock changes from 4:59 to 5:00...
Not sober...happy
It's wine time, buddy.

Saturday night. Tuesday night. Every night. It don't matter. Because parenting is SO much easier with a slight buzz. (I read an article once about how wine is a more natural choice than Xanax, so there's that.) My edges soften, my patience stretches. I felt like a damn fool I hadn't started this ritual sooner!

A little excitement for mama. A patient mama for baby. Sounds like a win-win!

But when does a ritual turn into a habit? It's a feeling you have. A little seed of guilt starts to bud. Then your husband stops drinking entirely, and you do, too, to show support, then you realize how big of a part drinking played in your life.

After four weeks without alcohol, I do miss it. I thought fondly of it probably every other day! Thinking about not being able to visit wineries, or taste beer at baseball games, or toast champagne at brunch. But here's what I don't miss:

1. The expense! Although I have replaced this with an essential oils addiction. (Must try what I call my "liquid Xanax" roll-on will love it! Click here)

2. The muddy brain. Mom-brain is bad enough, without killing off more brain cells with a wine habit. Seriously, I've never felt so clear in my life. You don't realize how foggy you've been, until you're not.

3. The lack of motivation. Funny how when you drink, that's, like, the whole END GOAL of the day. Now, once baby's sleeping, I do yoga, write business proposals, catch up on reading, etc. My business is booming, my sights seem limitless and my mental and physical health has never been better! Speaking of health...

4. The wine-belly. Think about it, 2-3 glasses of 90+ calories each...and whatever buzzed snacks will follow...piles up around your waistline. No booze has definitely been a factor in my 10-pound weightloss, in addition to replenishing my body with bioavailable vitamins and a metabolism-boosting essential oil (you must try it - click here). I feel like alcohol throws your body out of balance, and once your liver doesn't have to work so hard on cleaning alcohol out of your blood, it can work on detoxifying your skin and other organs of day-to-day pollutants. People have said I'm glowing!  

5. Powerlessness. This might be a little too new-age for some of you, but in yoga, the "solar plexus" chakra - or energy center - represents your personal power. Its housed in your stomach area. I have always struggle with belly fat...but not lately. I intuitively believe it's because i have my personal power back - willpower, empowerment, power to influence my own life - now that I'm not drinking. When your power chakra is in balance, your stomach, well, looks awesome! I have never seen abs before, and they are starting to peek through. 

6. The crutch. Without alcohol, I have allowed my true personality to blossom, and emerge in social situations. I have learned a lot about myself; I'm a little quieter than I originally thought, I have an underlying nervous energy that's only still when I drink, meditate or do something productive. I've also found I get silly over weird things; I'm a good listener, and feel passionately about social issues (and have the brainpower to speak intelligently about them).

So how does one eschew the sauce in a nation where Budweiser owns two-thirds of it, people see marijuana as a drug but not alcohol, and every luxurious experience comes with a glass of bubbly?

1. I've never drank so much LaCroix in my life. Or coffee. Or any colorfully packaged, low-cal drink that can spark at least some of the excitement of a perfectly pink, organic, dry Rose.

2. Telling people I'm on a "cleanse." I know how annoyed I used to get when people would tell me they don't drink. "Why, 'cause you're better than me?" I'd think. So, I just leave it at a very non-preachy "cleanse."

3. Unless I confess that I'm not drinking, and have a really cool conversation about it. Some of my friends have really meant it when they said they wish they and their husbands would stop drinking, too. I have noticed a common pattern in women getting more sensitive when they drink, and men getting less sensitive, causing some troubled waters when wine gets involved. So I'm just gonna leave that cork unpopped.

4. Go on adventures. The weekends used to be bad for us because we'd get bored chasing a baby around all day. So we'd crack open a bottle a little earlier. But now, we go hiking, camping, to the museum...anything to keep us off our couch, craving a drink. And when we do get home, we toast a fizzy drink and maybe even indulge in a sweet treat.

5. Be realistic. Don't think you won't miss it. It's hard for some people to switch lifestyles. But know that the benefits outweigh the buzz, and you're going for long-term gains over short-term relief. And if you find you're REALLY missing it, take the opportunity to explore what's lying under the surface. You might be amazed at what one session with a shrink or Life Coach can do for your peace of mind.

As the witching hour approaches to start winding down with my son, I get a little spark of excitement over that incredible, intoxicating sigh I'll take after the silence from his crib, when new adventures become open to me. And that, I'm learning, is a more-than-sufficient way to celebrate the end of the day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

5 Things I Wish I Knew before Having a Baby

You've got a seat squished between two strangers. Your stomach is churning a bit from the less than gourmet food you slammed down on your way to the gate. Your breath is starting to quicken, your heart racing, as you realize you that you're pretty much trapped. You can't really move. You're breathing everyone else's dirty air. You get the feeling you might have to pee. And just when you feel you can't take it any more...

"Attendants, prepare the cabin for landing."

Have you ever breathed such a sigh of relief? Well, that's how I feel today, having emerged from the deep; my son's first 7 months of life. He's finally laughing and cruising around and fun to take places, so I feel like I'm out of the clouds. Sure, the postpartum depression played a role in this prior "trapped" feeling, but in actuality, I legit had no idea what I was getting into when that little stick give me the thumbs up. I feel cheated that some Fairy Godmother of Mothering didn't leave this list in my mailbox before my husband and I started going for the gold. So, please, enjoy this hard-earned advice from someone who was in the dark for far too long.

Why can't babies be born THIS age?
1. Your life is not over. 
Yes, it feels like someone took a hammer to your entire life - from how you arrange your day, to where you shop, to what you expect from yourself and others - and shattered it like an eggshell, and demanded you to put it back together. Well, what they don't tell you, is that you don't have to put it back exactly how it was. As long as the yolk isn't spilling out all over, you're good. And please, spare yourself the whole "my life will never be the same!" tantrum, where you sink into a depression about never having time alone or a full night's sleep. Don't do that to yourself, because that's a hard spiral to stop. Look around, and see that you still have friends, family, a home, interests, places you want to go, dreams you want to accomplish...all with the addition of something that makes all of that even more special. You have a new life. And you wouldn't have it any other way, and you know it.

2. A baby changes you.
Yeah, there's the flab...the stretch marks. Whatever. That's no big deal to how much a baby actually changes you. He changes who you are. What you value. Your work ethic. How you treat others. After having William, I have taken jobs with fervor, no longer thinking about missed Bravo shows, but about making my baby proud and giving him security. I'm no longer scared of opportunities or conflicts, because, after pushing a nearly 9-pound baby out of you (in my case, with no meds!), why would you be? Nothing really intimidates you. You have so much more confidence, and go into every situation with a gentle ease knowing inside, you are a mom. You take better care of yourself (at least as much as you can in the moments you're not killing yourself over his wellbeing), make sounder decisions, get really clear about what you want your future to manifest (I've had some of the best opportunities of my career since becoming a mom). You find out you have more love to give, and it spills over into other relationships. There's absolutely no doubt, you come out of pregnancy as a better person. 

I need to feel like I'm a part of something bigger (with Geena Davis)
3. If you want to work, that's okay.
When I quit my job as a radio host just days before delivery, I was under the impression that hey, if being pregnant made me want to call in sick every day (oh, I was so miserable!), then having a kid would give me all sorts of reasons not to show up! Not true, because a) being pregnant makes you feel not only tired but hormonal, and b) as I said in #2, you have a different outlook on work once you have the baby. You either want to work your booty off being a stay-at-home mom, or hit the workforce the moment cabin fever sets in! What I didn't realize until my son was 8 months old (that's days ago), is that, it's okay to leave him under the care of others. It's okay to fulfill your own dreams! Now, I get to enjoy a "break" from baby for few hours, five days a week. What works for me, is those are either hours spent running my business, or freelance jobs; both of which are flexible, so I can still have as much time as I want with my son. So, if SAHM life is not right for you (I definitely couldn't hang!), find a way to work that works for you; that will fulfill you and sustain your family in the long-term. And that is NOTHING to feel guilty about.

4. Your husband won't be the perfect dad.
Even though he thinks you're the perfect mother. As new moms, our expectations for our partner are way too rose-colored-glasses when we're pregnant. I actually feel bad now that I've "awakened," to realize that ever since the baby was born, I've been keeping a secret scorecard on my husband. 
He didn't wake up with the baby this morning, even though I did the overnight feeding
Or I called the exterminator and also put the baby to bed, so he needs to mow the lawn and cancel that subscription, and also put the baby to bed tomorrow
Date nights are when you remember, you're on the same team
Or how about this doozy:  He told me to go have time for myself, yet when I got back, he hadn't even put the lunch stuff away or done the dishes, even though I always multitask while I'm with the baby
Me: 3, Dad: 0. But really, I'm the one who's losing. 
Instead of turning into my husband for support, using communication and setting mutual agreements, I turned to that toxic devil Resentment, which made me feel uber unappreciated, overworked, and alone. Once I dropped the expectations, and realized we are both doing the best we can with our own skill-set (like I'm just super-awesome at multitasking, whereas he spends so much quality time with baby that he doesn't get around to the dishes), I realized I had a partner, and a darn good one at that.

5. You can afford THAT.
The massage. The weekend away. Whatever "that" is for you, and your husband - you can afford it. Doing things that de-stress, and make you feel like you, and make you two feel like a couple, are as important as any other bill you have, so don't guilt yourself over spending it. My husband would often urge me to go get a massage, to which I used to stupidly reply, "I shouldn't spend money on that, when we have to pay the babysitter three times a week now that I'm working." THEN I'd get mad at him for not planning anything for me! Let go of those money issues. You can always save your money in other places (buy used kids stuff, for one! Whenever I see my friends buying baby clothes at Nordstrom's, I always think, "Haven't they heard of Kid to Kid?" or "Wouldn't they rather use that money on themselves?"). 

The first few months of motherhood would have been a lot easier if I didn't think the world was ending, or that I had to be chained to my home, with blinders on toward the baby. I am listening to my son let out a high-pitched squeal through a smile half the size of his face, and had my baby come out like this, all wacky and explorative, maybe I wouldn't have needed all this advice. But since we all start out with a non-encouraging newborn, new moms need all the help we can get.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How I knew I was done being a SAHM

It's the kind of cry where just the self-pitying sound of it, makes you cry more.

And it's not coming from the baby.

This baby has ruined my life.

I'm sitting on the edge of the bathtub, escaping his demanding outbursts just long enough to cry a few tears of my own and get back to it. And I think, It's quite literally true. A baby's birth equals the death of your former life. Almost nothing you did before is the same, and even the things you still do the same, you do with major adjustments. But I might be taking on more than I even need to.

My love is DARLING, and a handful!
See, my 6-month-old bundle of joy is becoming more squirmy and demanding, which is unfortunately paired with a sleep regression, which means night-waking and fewer naps. In fact, after my husband leaves for work, he takes exactly zero naps. So, when he finally goes down around 7 p.m. I muster just enough energy to twist open the spout of my boxed wine and collapse into our barely used easy chair.

I've started accumulating a feeling that kind of reminds me of when I was diagnosed with postpartumdepression. I definitely don't have that overwhelming sense of doom like I did in those hopeless couple of months, but I do have that feeling I'm missing out on something exciting happening outside the lonely confines of my home.

I can't relate to moms who say, “each day is better than the last!” Yes, it's absolute HEAVEN to see my baby smile, and watch him experiment with his voice, but there's just no getting past the extremely difficult job of being his sole caretaker after my husband leaves for work.

Why don't I get out more, you ask? I definitely go get my hair done or take the fam on walks, but it's not like after hours of wrangling a toddler-sized baby, I want to wrangle him into clothes, then into a carseat, then around whatever venue becomes our crash site.

And I even have a job. A few of them, actually. But they are only a few hours a week, and happen while my husband is home (so it's not like I get to work fewer hours of my “mothering” workweek).

My closest friends think I'm crazy.

“If I were a stay at home mom, I would be on pills.”

After a week covered in baby food, I can't wait for my Saturday morning TV gig!
Another one says, “Working is the only way I could have two kids.”

And now, as I look into my baby's excited face after finding a toy that will make him happy for maybe 3.5 minutes, I am declaring:

This stay-at-home-mom thing is not for me.

It WAS, at one point. I told you in the article I wrote when I quit my radio job, that I just had to do it, so that I could figure out - without pressure - how this new family dynamic works. I definitely feel like a different person with different desires now, so the former career would not have worked anyway. Plus, I've been blessed with a front-row, round-the-clock seat to the most formative years of my son's life. I'm grateful for that.

But, I'm sorry, son. I enjoy our time together so much, and love you more than anything in this world. But I need a break. I need to experience life outside of my home, which - unless I can figure out how to afford a nanny so I can go standup paddleboarding all day - means going back to work.

This is kind of good news for everybody. I have finally learned that my baby will be just fine without me for a few hours. You know that saying: “You've gotta take care of YOU before you can be your best for others?”

Well, this momma's gonna do HER.