The In Between

Today out of nowhere I focused in on your legs in your high chair. I mean really looked at them. They looked so long it was comical! Your feet are resting on the little foot rest on the bottom rung. Almost too big for this chair. Almost ready to move on to something new. Ladies and gentleman, we’ve entered the in between.

One part baby and one part little girl. You still have moments when you cry uncontrollably and can’t communicate what’s wrong. You just need to be held by mommy until the world stops moving so fast. But you surprise me every day with how much you know and understand. You want a baby sister and chocolate ice cream for breakfast. You run away from me as fast as you can, but turn around every few seconds to smile and make sure I’m still there.

This phase of life is so sweet but also hard on my heart. It’s the first time that I can feel you pulling away, even if it is just baby steps. I love watching you grow strong and discover the world around you. You’re becoming “you” and figuring out – sometimes frustratingly – how you fit into this great big place.

One part of being a parent that I never really pondered before I had you was the letting go part. And it turns out it might be the hardest part. For years, I had my fingers grasped so tightly around the idea of you. I wanted and needed you here with me. And once you arrived you needed me too. For two years we’ve been side by side in the trenches. But day by day you need me a little bit less. “I do it self” is a regular phrase.

You’ll start preschool this fall, and just the thought of being separated from you brings tears to my eyes. But I’m facing the letting go part head on. As much as you need me to hold you, you also need me to know when to let go. I will always be here to give you all my love, but there are some things that I can’t give to you. The gift of making new friends. The gift of new experiences and perspectives. I have to step to the side, if just a tiny bit, to let you find those things for yourself. And it is going to be damn hard on me.

For now we’ll live in the in between and savor the baby and big girl moments alike.

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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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

To My IVF Babies

To my IVF babies:

Your path into this world hasn’t been easy or traditional, but that makes you even more precious and special to me. It may seem that most people are more fortunate because they don’t have to wait as long or go through as much heartbreak to meet their loved ones. But maybe we are the lucky ones, because our eyes are completely open. We aren’t wondering if the time is right, or how you’ll fit into our lives. We are so ready to welcome you and know you’ll complete us.

You aren’t a happy accident or a crazy whim. You aren’t a “I guess we’re ready” or an “everyone else is doing it” decision. Your dad and I are choosing you, over and over again, until you are here with us. You are our love and commitment and dreams made manifest. With clear minds and hearts, we’re choosing to bring you into this beautiful, crazy world. Soon I hope we’ll be blessed with the opportunity to actively place you into my body, knowing that we are ready for our lives to change for the better. We’re choosing you.

Love,

Mama

To the Lonely Mamas

I saw this blog post shared on Facebook a while back and really enjoyed reading it: Are You Lonely, Mama? It is very easy when you’re infertile to envision this secret, exclusive club that all new moms belong to where they all instantly make friends with each other and spend their days watching their adorable babies grow up. It never really occurred to me that it could be lonely at times. Hard, yes. But lonely, no. I’ve had way too much time to build up parenting in my mind and I’ve really put it on a pedestal. So thank you to the author for bravely sharing that it isn’t always bliss.

But I would urge you to try to see things from my point of view, lonely mamas. When I scroll through Facebook, all I see are babies and happy parents. I see my friends with new lives and priorities, leaving me behind. Every morning, I walk past the middle bedroom in our house — a tiny little room between our bedroom and the guest bedroom. When we moved in two years ago, we started calling it the nursery. I decorated it in my mind. I pictured bringing our sweet baby home to this safe place. Now we call it the spare bedroom and we keep door closed because those thoughts and plans are too painful. Friends have stopped asking when we’re going to have kids. Some friends have stopped reaching out at all.

After more than two years of trying to get pregnant, my husband and I are in infertility limbo. I never imagined we’d be here. The mental and physical toll has been completely exhausting. We’re heartbroken, but we’re surviving. I’m lonely, too — for something I’ve never had.  As we head into our first IVF cycle, I hope that someday we look back on this as a season that made us stronger and prepared us to be amazing parents. Like the author, I’m trying not to let this loneliness steal this season from me.

It is very easy from my perspective to feel frustration, jealously, and even anger toward new mamas. I have friends who dealt with infertility before we started trying to have a baby, and I remember thinking they were insane. Every Facebook birth announcement or happy family out to dinner made them rage. But now I know. Infertility is a dark place, and you can only understand once you’re living there. I try to keep those feelings at bay, but I would be lying if I said they never consume me.

So I say to you lonely mamas — I get it. Being a mom is the hardest job. It can be isolating. At times, you miss your old life. Continue to share your feelings about motherhood — the loneliness and the joy. But I hope at the end of the day, you find comfort knowing that you’ve been given the best gift in the world. And you’re so very blessed to be given the opportunity to be a mama.