My First Year of Motherhood

A year ago I was battling fatigue from delivering a baby and barely sleeping in the hospital. I had no idea what was coming in the hours, days, months, or years that were ahead of me.

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One year later, I still don’t know what’s ahead of me…

If you know me in a real life, you know that I wasn’t sure I was mother-material. I think I still felt that way while in the hospital after giving birth. My mom laughs and says that I was in denial of impending motherhood up until we got to the hospital. Maybe that’s true…

It was so surreal those first couple of weeks–to think that the little human being crying on the outside was the little bump that used to be in my inside was just weird. I, like every mother, had huge learning curves–I had never changed a diaper before, had no clue what cry meant what, and no real idea how to entertain a baby.

My first few months of motherhood were hard, perhaps a little harder than normal. My husband was living in Indiana with his new job and would come home on some weekends, so I was a pseudo-single mom, working full time and caring for two dogs and a house. It was a definite crash course in handling anything and everything, and getting used to whatever would come my way. Need to go to the bathroom but baby is awake? Just strategically place her where you can still see her, but not close to the grossness that is the toilet. Starving and want to fix dinner, but the baby isn’t going to sleep? That’s what a carrier is for.

Moms = Expert Multi-Taskers  Article on deadline and baby won't sleep in her crib? Figure it out.

Moms = Expert Multi-Taskers Article on deadline and baby won’t sleep in her crib? Figure it out.

I struggled to breast feed–I wasn’t making much milk and Aubrey was a lazy nurser. Those first weeks of lactation consultant meetings and the first pediatrician we went to make me feel like a horrible mother. All I wanted to do was provide nourishment for our baby girl, and I wasn’t able to do that as well. Through exclusively pumping, I made it to the end of May, when I dried up under stress. I had enough milk frozen that she still got a couple ounces of breast milk with her formula for a couple more months, then she went strictly to formula…and I was OK with that. I had learned that it was OK, that everyone is different, and to be proud that I had tried.

I’ve learned how to balance life–perhaps not very well yet, but I’m still working on it. Being a full-time working mom, plus having a freelancing business and caring for other animals is exhausting. There are many late nights, and some early mornings, so I can get work done while A sleeps. I haven’t gotten back to a normal routine with the dogs, but there are other factors with that. As Aubrey gets older, I’m excited to incorporate more of my life with her so she can start to learn and do some things on her own.

I'm hoping A learns by doing--so she goes to the barn with me most of the time.

I’m hoping A learns by doing–so she goes to the barn with me most of the time.

For my first Mother’s Day, I listed some things that I had already learned in my few short months as a mother, including:

  1. Just like with my dogs, seeing her at the end of the day makes my day. Now that she’s smiling, to see her eyes light up when she sees me fills my heart with so much joy.
  2. If you think you’re too selfish to become a parent, think again. I thought I was, but all of that is thrown out the door when that little one enters your life. You will eat last (even my dogs and horses eat before I do), only get to shower if you can quickly squeeze one in, and their clothing needs come before yours. And, surprisingly, I’m OK with that.
  3. I now have a different perspective on that family eating out with a crying child, or the mother who looks frazzled while dealing with a child at the grocery. Before you gripe about how they’re child misbehave, or how dare they “ruin” your dinner out, take a moment to wonder if maybe they’re out to eat because they just want to get out of the house, or maybe that mother is a single mom doing it on her own. Have a little more patience and maybe offer to help, or compliment.
  4. Just a simple compliment can go a long way for an exhausted mom. Even if you’re not someone into kids, just asking your friend how they’re doing, or offering to meet for lunch (with or without offspring) means the world to them. A simple text to say hello and to check on them goes a long way, more than you’d ever know.

A friend once asked me, “What surprises you the most about being a mom?” Here was my answer:

  • It surprises me how much I give of myself to her. I used to think that I was a very selfish person, hence why I didn’t want to have any kids. While it sucks to miss out on a lot of things, I know it’s for her, and that lessens the sting.
  • It surprises me how much I’ve changed in my thoughts of things. When I’d hear babies crying or toddlers acting up at restaurants I’d chime in, “Ding! Beat the kid!” (inside joke from a comedian) But now I’m like, “Oh that poor momma…”
  • It surprises me how lonely you feel as a mother. It’s hard to believe that you can feel that way when you’re constantly clung to, cried for, and pushed, but you do, especially if a lot of your close friends don’t have children. (And definitely when you move…but that’s a whole other blog post.)
  • It surprises me how I am actually starting to plan in the future…for her. I always hated those questions in job interviews, “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?” because I could honestly say I have no clue…I didn’t plan in the future, except for a few months down the road. But now, I’m seeing A riding ponies, playing sports, etc.
  • It surprises me how scared I am that I might make a mistake that will affect her in some way down the road. Am I reading enough to her? Is she eating the right things to grow and develop physically and mentally? Is she on the right track? I’m almost paranoid and find myself comparing A and ourselves to others, and I never used to do that (and I know it’s a scary cycle to do).

While A has definitely grown and evolved through the year, so have I. I’ve grown to accept that I am a mother, and I’m OK with that, and proud to be her momma. I’m just going to do the best that I can with what I know, and try my best to relish every moment. But I also want to make sure that I get back to finding myself again, and remind myself that I’m not just a mother, but a professional, a horsewoman, a dog trainer, an award-winning journalist, and a fit woman.

But, I’m still a mom. And she’s still my daughter. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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My First Mother’s Day

This weekend I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. Well, technically this was my first Mother’s Day as a “human mom” and not just a “fur-mom”. (My dog friends will understand.) I’ve always celebrated Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) with the fullest intentions of ensuring that my mom knew how loved she was and how thankful I was to have her as my mom, but I never fully understood what she’s gone through as a mother until I became one myself. It’s a lesson I think all children should learn at some point or another (but, no, I’m not saying everyone needs to procreate just to celebrate these two holidays).

11071667_10153235788989602_2774834097366942071_oI saw this on Facebook some time ago and saved it just for Mother’s Day. It makes me tear up as I read it, every single time (man I have gotten emotional since becoming a mom!).

This is so, so true in so many ways, and I’ve only experienced this for a little over three months. Being a mother is more than just being pregnant for nine months.

Things I’ve learned since becoming a mother myself:

  1. Everything can be washed, and if it can’t, it can be replaced.
  2. When you think you’re actually running on time, you’re not…start moving earlier!
  3. The best thing you can do for your child is to take care of yourself. If you’re sick, you can’t be 100 percent with it, so take care of yourself just as much as you take care of your child.
  4. Just like with my dogs, seeing her at the end of the day makes my day. Now that she’s smiling, to see her eyes light up when she sees me fills my heart with so much joy.
  5. If you think you’re too selfish to become a parent, think again. I thought I was, but all of that is thrown out the door when that little one enters your life. You will eat last (even my dogs and horses eat before I do), only get to shower if you can quickly squeeze one in, and their clothing needs come before yours. And, surprisingly, I’m OK with that.Mday2
  6. I now have a different perspective on that family eating out with a crying child, or the mother who looks frazzled while dealing with a child at the grocery. Before you gripe about how they’re child misbehave, or how dare they “ruin” your dinner out, take a moment to wonder if maybe they’re out to eat because they just want to get out of the house, or maybe that mother is a single mom doing it on her own. Have a little more patience and maybe offer to help, or compliment.
  7. Just a simple compliment can go a long way for an exhausted mom. Even if you’re not someone into kids, just asking your friend how they’re doing, or offering to meet for lunch (with or without offspring) means the world to them. A simple text to say hello and to check on them goes a long way, more than you’d ever know.
My mom's first Mother's Day as a grandMOTHER.

My mom’s first Mother’s Day as a grandMOTHER.

I am super proud of my baby girl, and it’s surprising how everyday I fall more and more in love with her.

Thank you, mom, for being the best mom a kid could ever ask for. Thank you for sacrificing your life so I could live mine. Thank you for “sharing” your bites with me, and thank you for putting up with me. And thank you, even moreso now, with the constant questions and complaints and just being an open ear and helping hand to offer any kind of assistance. I know I wouldn’t be who I am without you, or dad, and your strength and support. I just hope I’m half as much a great mom to Aubrey as you have been to me and Erin. I love you.

“A baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty”

I’m a Proud Daughter: Mom’s Update, 100lbs Lost

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During brunch Christmas 2012 my mom announced she was going to have bariatric surgery in the coming months. In July she underwent Roux-En-Y Surgery to start her on the road to better health and a better lifestyle.

Just a few weeks ago she hit a major milestone: 100 pounds lost. She was so excited she texted me as soon as she weighed herself. I knew that was such a big number to her and she felt so proud and accomplished of her hard work.

It hasn’t been all easy, though. Some people might think that having bariatric surgery is the easy way out, and they’re wrong. There have been some trips back to the hospital to have the hole stretched wider when she was having troubles swallowing. She’s had to manage multiple stomach issues–sharp pains, nausea, cramping.

She’s lost some hair due to insufficient protein intake–she was getting nauseous drinking protein shakes. Thankfully. though, we discovered the problem for why this was happening and now she’s taking in protein in more unique ways, like adding protein powder to her oatmeal in the morning and juice in the afternoon, instead of milk. Now her hairstylist has pointed out some regrowth already, which makes my mom very happy.

She was doing well with daily walks to the barn with my brother-in-law, starting first with her walker, then her cane. Unfortunately the poor weather in Indiana has stalled those outside walks. However, she is now able to walk around without her cane! It’s such a big step for her because it means more independence and shows she’s getting stronger.

She’d love to ride her stationary bike that’s been collecting dust in her bedroom, but unfortunately her knee has been giving her troubles lately, not allowing it to bend enough to pedal, but hopefully she’ll be able to start back up to walking, as soon as the snow melts and the weather is nice (which we wonder when that’ll ever happen).

She’s able to go out to eat, but she knows to be careful on appetizers, and focuses more on fresher ingredients. She loves how she’s now a “cheap date” and orders a small meal, but gets two or three more meals out of it later.

I’m not sure what her final goal weight is, but now that she’s down in the mid-200s, I know she’s on a roll.

Here’s a before photo from Christmas 2012:

Christmas 2012 with my momma

Christmas 2012 with my momma

And here is her “Mid-Progress Photo” taken February 16, 2013, just shy of 100 pounds lost:

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She looks younger, and is feeling younger. You can definitely tell in her face, and definitely the fit of her clothes. She’s been wearing shirts that were too tight on her, but now they’re too big and baggie–it’s time to do some shopping for smaller sizes (we don’t even know what she’d wear–she was wearing 24/26).

I’m so proud of her, and I can’t wait to see how she does this spring/summer/fall as she’s able to start doing more.

Your turn: Do you know someone who has had bariatric surgery? How have they been recovering?

Mom’s Surgery Update

I’ve appreciated all of the well-wishes for my mom as she underwent surgery on Monday. I’m happy to say she came home Wednesday afternoon and is progressing really well!

During her Roux-En-Y surgery, they also removed her gall bladder. It was discovered, upon final examination, that it was full of stones, and it was best to go ahead and remove the gall bladder while they were already in there. A family friend, who had the same surgery years ago, said that was a great thing, since doctors had to remove her gall bladder just a few months after her initial surgery. That would not be fun for anyone, let alone my mom.

Mom’s recovery will be slow, but she’ll see progress along the way. Right now she’s still on a mostly liquid diet–2 ounces of some sort of liquid three times a day. But she can have some soft foods as well. For instance, today she had some cream of wheat and some 100% fruit juice (no sugar added) for breakfast, butternut squash soup and jello for lunch, and mashed potatoes and cheese for dinner. She has to learn to eat her small meals in a 30 minute timeframe, which when you’re only eating 2 ounces at a time (and she can’t drink anything while she’s eating, or else she’ll fill up on fluid instead of her meal).

I’ve got her started on some protein shakes because during her walks she was talking about getting shaky and maybe a little light-headed. Well, at the moment she’s not getting a lot of protein in her meals, so I figured it was time to start her on some protein shakes. She already felt a difference with just 4 ounces of my V-Core Vanilla Bean protein shake with 2% milk.

She’s also staying hydrated with either her sippy cup full of water, or I got her a CamelBak water bottle to help her sip water without getting a lot of air in her gut. It’s really easy for patients with bariatric surgery to become dehydrated, so she really has to have water with her at all times.

She’s also making sure she gets up every hour or so and at least walking the length of the house (which is pretty long) and back. She’s going to start walking down the driveway at least once a day if the weather is nice, too, which will be great for her to get some fresh air and natural Vitamin D from the sun. Today’s walk included all four dogs (my two and her two) and one of the horses, Quila, who decided to join us for the walk. The weather was perfect–not too warm, with a great breeze. I think it helped lift my mom’s spirits.

We’re hopeful for continued progress for mom. She’s been getting on the scale every morning and gets excited to see the weight dropping. Of course, right now she’s losing water weight from the swelling in her legs, but hey, a drop in pounds is a drop.

Her first follow-up appointment with her doctor is August 20. She already read when she can start adding foods back into her diet, and she’s looking forward to being able to fix things like her summer squash and puree it for a meal in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working to clean the house and re-organize it, along with the barn. Everything has been dusted, floors mopped, stalls stripped and re-bedded, cobwebs removed, blankets washed, etc. It’s been an exhausting week of taking care of the farm, plus ride horses, care for mom (and dad), give riding lessons to my brother-in-law, and try to fit in meeting up with friends…it’s been a great week that I’m happy I’ve been able to spend with my family, but I’m looking forward to being back in Lexington with the husband.(I finally got him to admit he missed me and the pups, ha!)

I have some scenes from my Iphone I’ll share with you from the weekend, as well as my workout with CrossFit Clay United on Thursday. It’s been fun doing drop-in workouts with other boxes, but I’ll be happy to be back in Man O’War on Monday, ready to cuss Taylor. 😉

My Mom’s Gastric Bypass Surgery

I’m up in Indiana for about a week or so because today my mom had surgery. It’s been in the works for a while, and the day has finally come. We’re all anxious and excited for her, but also a little nervous about the days ahead. She feels the same way.

You see, my mom is having bariatric surgery.

My mom has always been overweight since I can remember. When I was younger, it wasn’t too bad–she worked a full-time job as a head injury nurse and was able to enjoy spending time at horse shows and rodeos with us with no problem. The weight wasn’t a big issue then.

Then my mom was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. If you don’t know what fibromyalgia is, here’s a nutshell explanation:

Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.

She had fibromyalgia before it became a more popular term (to where you now see ads for medicine). With this diagnosis, it was almost like her health instantly went downhill. She retired from being a nurse and I think that’s when depression started to slowly hit get a grasp on her. Then I went off to college and moved out on my own, thus leaving an empty nest (my sister lives next door, but leads a busy life as well). The horse shows stopped, but dad continued working. Slowly she started having troubles even just walking–the past few years she’s had to use a cane when he legs were too stiff or too full of fluid to really bend and move very well.

It’s been hard seeing my mother’s health deteriorate. She hasn’t been able to walk down to the barn in I don’t even know how long, and I was worried about the length of her walk for my wedding when my brother-in-law walked her down the aisle. We’re hoping this surgery is a restart to her life, and that maybe this will allow her and my dad to enjoy their golden years together.

Christmas 2012 with my momma

Christmas 2012 with my momma

Her surgery is called the Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery. In this type of gastric bypass surgery, a small section of the stomach is used to create a new stomach pouch that is about the size of an egg. The smaller stomach is connected directly to the middle portion of the small intestine, bypassing the rest of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine. (According to WebMD)

The past few days mom’s enjoyed her “lasts”–last McDonald’s sweet tea, last dinner at her favorite Mexican restaurant, last chai latte from Starbucks. She also went shopping with my dad to get some of the things she’ll need for her recovery, including V8 Juice, baby food, and a Nutri-Bullet to make smoothies. I brought my protein powder for her to try (we all know the trials and tribulations of finding a protein powder we like) and my sister bought her a bunch of samples from her nutrition store.

I’ll be home for the next few days to make sure things go smoothly with the start of mom’s recovery, and to help out on the farm. Mom will be in the hospital until Wednesday, then her real re-start of her new life begins. We’re all hoping it’s the jump her health needs to tackle her golden years.

Do you know of anyone who’s had gastric bypass surgery? How’d it go?

Do you have any experience with fibromyalgia?