My Big Promotion…

That’s right, folks. I’m taking the plunge and leaving my job as a nonprofit communications director to stay at home with Zuzu. Technically, I’ll be a stay at home mom, a title I’m not in love with because it conjures up images of me trapped inside my house baking cookies in an apron. The way I see it is the I’m leaving my current career to shift my focus on an even more important job: raising my daughter.

There were SO MANY factors that weighed in to this decision, but here are the Cliff’s Notes.

You only live once. (At least I think!)
Call it a gut feeling or intuition or mommy guilt that won’t quit, but I could not shake the feeling that I’m missing the best part of my life. I like my job and find it fulfilling, but I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I’ve tried the “have it all” path and have found myself stretched very thin the past five months that I’ve been working full-time. I really want to be as present as possible when my kids are young. I’m taking the approach that I only get to go around this crazy world one time. I know I won’t regret time spent with my family during these precious early years.

Childcare is $$$.
Right now my saint of a mother-in-law watches the baby. She loves her to death and they have developed such a special bond. But guys, my baby is crazy. Like never ever stops moving/climbing/exploring. As she gets ready to walk, we all see the inevitable challenges this will pose for my mother-in-law, who is in her mid-60s. And if we’re lucky enough to have another child, there is no way she could (or should entertain the idea of) watching more than one of these crazy kiddos all day long. She deserves to be a Nonna who gets to have all the fun and not the day-to-day dirty work. We did our research on daycare and nannies, but in the DC ‘burbs, prices are crazy and you also have to factor in waitlists. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t right for us.

We can (barely) afford it.
We’re not rich, people. But we are closing in on our mid-thirties and we have both worked hard for the last 10 years. We’ve been able to save and we’re very lucky to have a good safety net from our families if times get tough. We’re the responsible type, so we met with our financial planner to make sure this was something we could swing for a few years, with the eventual plan of me going back to work at some point. That being said, this will be a major lifestyle change, especially for me. I’m the spender and I’m going to need to cool my jets. No more Mini Boden shopping sprees for Zuzu!

I value my sanity.
This decision wasn’t only about Zuzu. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror recently and was frightened at what I saw. Moms are so hard on themselves and I’m no exception. I’ve been so stressed about trying to do EVERYTHING and do it well that I’m not enjoying the precious time that I have with my sweet, growing daughter. If mama isn’t sane, it isn’t good for anyone else.

Because this is a sensitive subject, I want to make sure I say this: Every family is different and all parents are faced with tough decisions when it comes to raising their kids. I have SO MUCH respect for working moms and dads and moms and dads who choose to stay home. I firmly believe that there isn’t a right way, just a right choice for each individual family.

Last but not least, LOOK AT THIS FACE! I mean really – could you stay away from her all day? Stay tuned as I explore this exciting new chapter!

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This is Why Parents Are More Exhausted Than You Think They Should Be

This is spot on and hilarious. Had to share!

A Morning Grouch

At first, people understand that bringing new life also brings exhaustion. People ask new parents if the baby is sleeping through the night as if that is the magical key to them feeling like a fully functional human being.  But, every parent knows, it is not.  I’m quite sure that it is a scientific fact that parents never feel like fully functional human beings again.  Or maybe they just change the definition of what it “fully functional” means, which no longer implies anything closely related to “rested”.  Here’s why:

They never sleep through the night.  Never. Again.  Sleeping through the night initially means sleeping for longer than 2 or 3-hour stretches. Once your infant gets past that point people seem to forget that doesn’t mean jack.  At first, parents wake up in a panic when the infant doesn’t wake up and they check on them, adrenaline rushing, thinking they’re going to…

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Family Planning for Infertiles

Maternity painting

Babies are generally made in one of two ways. 1. A couple decides they are ready to grow their family and they start trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way. 2. OOPS!

When you’re infertile, neither of these methods really apply to you. The first time around, we didn’t know we were infertile, so we spent many years trying to avoid 2. and then a few years desperately trying to achieve 1. When trying naturally produced no results, we turned to fertility treatments and were put on a path that eventually lead to IVF, which gave us our most precious gift, our daughter. It also gave us another unexpected gift: the possibility to grow our family again through frozen embryos.

This leaves us in a weird fertility limbo. While I’m not sure we’re ready to get pregnant right now, we know we would like more children and it seems weird to sit around and get older/more infertile. We also are hyper aware that time is not on our side. Do we try on our own and see if things magically work this time around? After all, our diagnosis was unexplained infertility and it is possible, but not likely, that I could get pregnant naturally. But where does that leave those little frosties?

I remember clearly the mix of emotions I experienced when the clinic called to tell us they were able to freeze some embryos. Four to be exact. Wonderful! But wait…four!? Four means the (unlikely) possibility of five children. How did we get from wanting a child so desperately to the possibility of five children?

Our perfect daughter was created through the same process as our frozen embryos and I feel an obligation to give the others a chance at life. I don’t necessarily see them as our children, but as the real possibility of life — much more tangible when I see my growing, healthy little girl. We made the decision to create them, out of both love and desperation, and it is hard to consider the possibility of not using them if we are able to have more children the natural way. You see, there are no easy decisions when it comes to infertility.

We are enormously blessed to have had success with IVF, and even more lucky to have frozen embryos that will allow us to try again. And soon there will be big decisions to make…

 

Tuesday’s Treat: Hello Fresh

If you’re a busy parent (who isn’t!?) I’m begging you to check out Hello Fresh! I’ll be the first to admit that my cooking skills are not up to par, but when my hubby suggested trying a meal delivery service I had visions of gross frozen lasagna. Not the case! We’ve been doing Hello Fresh for about a month and it is seriously delicious. Bonus points for it helping me learn how to cook AND creating some much needed time for me and hubby to reconnect each night after we put Zuzu to bed.

Below are snaps of some of the meals we’ve made. Some of our favorites so far include Smoky Beef & Poblano Chili, Shrimp & Lemon Risotto with Roasted Zucchini and Parmesan, and Pork & Apple Burger with Rosemary Potatoes and Mixed Green Salad. YUM!

Want to try it? Use my code C6DJ2N for $40 off your first box!

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Jamie’s Super-Speedy Steamed Salmon with Jewelled Couscous & Yogurt

 

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Garlic-Butter Shrimp with Tomato, Brown Rice, and Caramelized Veggie Skewers

 

Am I Missing It?

Eight months are gone in the blink of an eye, and they’ve also dripped slow as molasses. “The days are long but the years are short,” they say. It’s the biggest parenthood cliche and for good reason.

Some days I feel at home in my new role as mama, and other days I still feel like an outsider looking in. Between two worlds — my old self and new — I’m still finding my way.

IMG_1019But my little girl, she is fresh and new to the world. Every day is an adventure and she is just starting her story. What role will I play? I want so much to get this thing right. Be her guide. Be her favorite person. Be her inspiration. Should I continue to work so we can provide her with the best? Show her that she is strong and smart and capable, and doesn’t need to rely on anyone else. Or should I stay home and be her safe haven, teaching her the things that only a mother can? Spend these sweet early years together learning and growing. Can I do it all? Will it slowly burn me out and make me less? Less of a mother and less of myself?

In the worry and the fear of making the right choices, am I missing the beauty of every single new day? The big gummy smile with one little half tooth poking through when I walk into the room. The new pincher grasp, gleefully tossing puffs into her mouth like they’re going out of style. This squirmy, loud, happy, adventurous little person is changing and growing every.single.day and I cannot miss it to worry and stress.

The answers will come. Life will move forward one way or another and we’ll continue to write our story. The most important part is that I don’t miss it.

A Long Hiatus

I honestly cannot believe that my baby is 8 1/2 months old. I knew I would need to take a break from blogging as I learned how to be a mama, but I had no clue I wouldn’t be back here until now! I miss writing and the sense of community I’ve received here and I’m going to try my best to get back into the swing of things.

Truth be told, my life and my heart are VERY full at the moment and I’m so thankful for that. I’m overflowing with love for my daughter, even on the hard days, and trying to figure out how to balance work and everything else. There are days when I feel like I really should have my act together by now, but I’m trying to give myself some grace. I hope getting my thoughts on paper and hearing from others will give me some perspective as I try to “have it all” and be the best mama, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague that I can be. Just reading that sentence is making me sleepy.

Here’s my sweetie at 8 months getting a kiss from her puppy brother!

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Our June Surprise!

Apologies for going MIA, but I had a very good reason! Our sweet little girl decided to surprise us a month early! We welcomed Susannah Rose into the world on June 13. Despite being early (36+1), she was a healthy 5 lbs, 11 oz and 19 inches long. Life since then has been a whirlwind of intense love and serious lack of sleep. She is our miracle and words can’t describe how much we love her.

Now that we’re almost 6 weeks in, we’re beginning to find our groove and I hope to get back into blogging on life as a new mom. Here’s our little girl!

Zuzu birth

Weeks 25-30 Bumpdate

Many people say that pregnancy moves slow, but I’ve had quite a different experience. Every week seems to move more quickly and I’ve really fallen behind on my blogging! Although I haven’t been writing an update each week, I’ve definitely been enjoying this last stage of growing my sweet little girl. I’ve been very busy with trying to get everything wrapped up at work, childbirth classes, putting the nursery together, making sure I have everything I need for her arrival, and fitting in a few last minute trips. I’m going to do one big bumpdate spanning the past 5 weeks since I clearly cannot keep up with these weekly ones! As I slow down in the coming weeks I’m hoping to get back to the weekly updates.

How Far Along?: 30.6 weeks! I cannot believe we’re in the single digit weeks until baby arrives.

Baby is the size of: Cauliflower, Head of Lettuce, Rutabaga (what!?), Eggplant, Acorn Squash, and now Cucumber

Total Weight Gain: +25lbs, yikes!

Maternity Clothes? All maternity all the time! Around 27 weeks is when I really popped. Now I’m getting asked constantly when I’m due, etc.

Stretch Marks? Still holding firm! Everything is feeling very tight so I won’t be shocked if they arrive any day now.

Sleep? Sleep was good until 30 weeks. Now I’m having a lot of trouble getting comfortable with my big belly.

Best Moment This Week? Too many great moments to pick one: Hitting the third trimester, spending quality time with hubby and my mom before baby arrives, feeling all of baby girl’s movements.

Movement?: She was moving like crazy weeks 25-29. Lately I’ve noticed a little less of those large movements and more just kicks and punches. I think it is getting tight in there and she isn’t able to somersault like before.

Food Cravings?: Still sugar! I found out at 29 weeks that I’m slightly anemic, but haven’t really experienced any symptoms. I started an iron supplement and am making an efforts to each more iron-rich foods.

Anything making you queasy?: No

Baby Bump?: See belly pics below, the bump is huge!

Gender: Girl!

Labor Signs?: Nope.

Belly Button In or Out?: STILL IN! I can’t believe I made it to 30 weeks with it in.

Wedding Rings on or off?: Hands are still good, but my feel and ankles started to swell like crazy around 29 weeks. By the end of the day they are comical and I can barely fit them into flip flops. I can’t imagine what they will look like in 9 more weeks.

Happy or Moody?: Very happy. I think I’ve reached the point where I’m letting the stress go and just enjoying the end of pregnancy. I do have my moments when I’m like “how am I really going to birth a baby!?” but I think that is normal.

Miss Anything?: The weather has been beautiful – perfect for a glass of white wine on the back deck! I do miss alcohol a little but not too much. Also missing bring able to move around quickly. It takes some work to get out of bed and waddle around.

Looking forward to?: Back to back baby showers this weekend and next! Can’t wait to see family and friends! Also another ultrasound at the specialist at 32 weeks.

25 weeks  26 weeks  27 weeks

28 weeks  29 weeks  IMG_1798