Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Sacrifice

My friend Victoria did a post recently that I could have written (well except that I'm not an attorney).  I have said her exact words over and over throughout the last year since having Allie, I feel mediocre at everything.  As much as I'd like to think I have figured out balance in my life, I have to admit that never truly feel like I am giving 100% to any part of my life anymore, which is incredibly frustrating.  It's the age old debate about whether a woman can have it all, and in my experience, the answer is kind of no.  Even though I do pretty much have everything I could ask for, I feel like all the tanks are sort of half full because I can't dedicate my full energy or time to any one area.  If I am excelling at one thing, it might be at the expense of something else.  I feel that constantly.  Certain areas are definitely lacking because sacrifices were made.

In my mid 20's, while living in the DC area, I got hired at a place where it seemed that there were unlimited possibilities in which direction I could go with my career and only six months after I started, I was promoted, so this reinforced to me the notion that I would love working at this place and would have plenty of growth opportunity.  Then my husband's career took a nose dive (no aviation pun intended) and we decided to relocate to Charlotte.  I actually fought the move for the very reason that I knew it would probably hurt my career and any growth opportunity I had hoped for, but in the end I caved and agreed to it, feeling that it was a sacrifice I would have to make for US, and our future family.  I dreamed of our future kids, being closer distance to my parents, getting out of the DC traffic and "rat race" and decided it was worth the sacrifice when I weighed it all.

When I got to Charlotte, I did a lot to try to position myself to move up, but with few opportunities and a hiring freeze, I kind of had to just coast where I was, I didn't really have a choice for a while.  I got focused on having a baby and cultivating my life outside of work, and things just kind of stayed as they were with my career and I found a way to be okay with that.  Now I've been in my current job seven years, the longest I've been in any job, and while I like it, I am thinking long term and know that I'd like to do something else in my life and don't see myself retiring in this same job- the thought of that bothers the ambitious 20 something girl I used to be.  I want to feel like I'm utilizing more of myself and learning new things, and not just stagnant.

Recently, out of nowhere, an opportunity came up at work for a job I have been interested in for a while.  I spent over a week reworking my resume to apply before the job closed, talked to people about the job, and all the sudden it was something I really wanted, which is something I didn't see coming since I've been more focused on my growing family more than work for the past couple years.  The resume re-working paid off.  I got an interview.  The interview was something I did NOT adequately prepare for though, and found myself fumbling through it.  I did not get the job and I really have to stop myself from slapping myself upside the head, because I really think I could have gotten the job if my interview had gone better.  I can't blame my family, or Allie, or anyone but myself, but at the same time, I know if I didn't have so much going on, I think I would have been able to focus better on preparing for the interview.  I also think I would have been more focused on career in general.

It's stuff like this that makes you question what you are doing.  Like, should I bother working if I'm not even doing what I really am capable of, but don't have the energy/time to put towards getting promoted since I'm so busy with my family and don't have time for further schooling/learning, etc..?  If I'm not getting further with my career anyway, should I just be staying home with my daughter?  It's hard to know.  I know that I do feel like I was right when I thought I should go back to work because I would need the "break" I get when I go to work, since I am the only parent with my daughter for days at a time because of my husband being away.  Even though it makes life busy, I feel like it's good for Allie and I to have that time apart.  Allie is already so dependent on me, since I'm the parent that's there every day, that if we spent even more time together with no other people around, I feel like she'd freak out when she was left with anyone.  So in that respect, I know daycare is good for her, to get used to other caregivers and have interaction with other kids.  And likewise, I need the adult interaction and different challenges I get at work.  But back to my point.  I just feel like if I don't feel like I'm really excelling at my career, it makes all this feel like a little bit of a waste, which sucks.

The other day though, I was talking to someone about what happened with this job.  It's been said to me many times lately in conversations about it, that I could get promoted if I were willing to move.  I know that's true.  And actually, I know Greg would move if it's what I really wanted, because we're not in the place we were in 8 years ago when we felt like we needed to move mainly for financial reasons.  There are a couple places we could move where he could commute as easily from or we could even move to Houston if an opportunity came up for me there, but when I weigh everything I'd have to sacrifice FOR my career, I realize it's not worth it to me.  Even though I sacrificed my career to be in Charlotte, have a family, live somewhere with a lower cost of living, be near my parents...  these things are all more important to me than a promotion.  I imagine moving for a job and starting over making friends, being far away from my parents, missing Charlotte and the life I created here, and I know it wouldn't be worth it if I were in a different job if I were unhappy with the rest of my life outside of work, which is a definite possibility if we moved.  So basically it's worth it for me to be here, where I am now in life, but it doesn't mean that I don't ache when I don't get a promotion and think that if I hadn't had to make certain sacrifices, I could be further along in my career.

Also, read this.  I feel like this reinforces why it's worth it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Allie is One!

Ok, I'm finally getting this post up after major procrastination.  Allie turned ONE a couple weeks ago over a month ago.  I waited to do the update so I could get stats from her one year appointment, and also because she didn't have her official birthday party until a couple weeks after, we were travelling for a week, and, let's face it, because I'm SLOW.

The actual day of Allie's birthday was spent alone with me, snowed in.  Daddy was flying and work and school were cancelled due to the storm.

We actually had a great day together, with lots of play time inside and of course her checking out the white stuff outside!  I did a photo shoot of Allie in her birthday outfit, complete with rubber duck props...

I made her some banana muffins and frosted one for her and put a candle in it while FaceTiming with my parents so they could participate in the action.

I gave Allie a toy fridge to play with, which was good timing since it was good to have a new toy while snowed in.

Allie started walking a couple weeks before turning one, and was only up to about 10-15 independent steps at a time by her actual birthday.  She was still doing a combination of crawling and walking, and still is, but lately she's walking more than 50% of the time.  She's a master at getting up and down stairs and loves climbing on to and off of her Pottery Barn chair all the time.

Also right around the one year mark, Allie finally started purposefully saying "mama" which was great.  She still says "da" more than any other word, and uses this to refer to Clyde, ducks, Dad, and when pointing to things.  We're pretty sure she's said Clyde a bunch of times, and also appears to be trying to say "quack quack quack" since we say that around her many duck toys and books all the time.

At one year, Allie weighed in at a whopping 17 lbs 4 oz., putting her in the 3-5th percentile for weight!  I'd be nervous if her growth hadn't followed that pattern all along and if she wasn't a good eater, but she actually eats well and the pediatrician isn't worried, she's just small.  Also, she isn't as small when compared to the world growth chart as much as the US one.  For length, she's 28 inches, so 10-25th for height.  Still rocking the big head at 46 cm (75th percentile).  Allie is still in size 3 diapers, and mostly 12M clothes, but still fits snuggly into some of her 9M clothes too.  I have recently become obsessed with shoes for Allie and can't stop buying them.  She has three pairs of "real" shoes that are all size 3, but I have also bought ahead in sizes 4-5 if I find a good deal.

Allie is still pretty obsessed with ducks.  My mom did a total rubber duck themed party for Allie, and it was a huge hit.

Like I said, she's a good eater most of the time, but definitely has her favorites.  Those include rotisserie chicken, blueberries, bananas, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, peas, pears, baby oatmeal (i mix applesauce and nut butter in), grapes (a recent addition), Applegate farms deli turkey, toast, PB &J, Goldfish, and hummus on crackers (another new addition).  She doesn't like watermelon, strawberries, green beans, broccoli, chicken nuggets, and some of the other random things we've tried feeding her.  Pasta with sauce is hit or miss.  Sometimes she loves it, sometimes not.  We still have lots to explore, but I admit, I fall back on her favorites a lot because most of them are easy to get on the table in 5 minutes, which is essential when we walk in the door on a weeknight.  She's also drinking a combination of milks- almond, coconut, soy, and hemp, and also some Pediasure.  She also gets one bottle of breast milk a day- usually about 4oz (yes, I am still pumping at work).  Our pediatrician told us to aim for 16oz a day total of some kind of milk.

This stage is kind of neat because she's starting to seem like a big girl, but at the same time the baby part of her is still recognizable.  I am still breastfeeding twice a day, in the morning and at night, and I love those moments of her snuggled against me when I still feel like she's a little baby.  But it's definitely fun to see her walking everywhere and exploring like a big girl too.  It's been a whirlwind year!  I can't even tell you how much I love this girl...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts on the First Year

Greetings from the epicenter of snowacalypse 2014!  We have received quite the dump of snow here in Charlotte today and I have no idea when I'll be leaving my house again.  Good thing I have 8 years worth of food in my pantry for occasions like this.  It kind of worked out good for me to be home today, because I got to spend the last day of my baby's first year with her.  I pretty much savored all her smiles, cuddles, and snuggles today.

No need to change out of pajamas!  SNOW DAY!
And yes, she's wearing boys pajamas because they have planes on them!

Allie will be a YEAR OLD tomorrow!  Unbelievable...  I've done little but catalog the first year of my baby's life on the blog for almost the last year.  It makes sense since she's basically become my whole world and almost nothing in my life is the same as it used to be before she arrived.  Still, this used to be a blog about me, so I thought I should maybe catch up on some of what's gone on for me this year.  The lack of posts are pretty pathetic and I've thought more than once about stopping blogging altogether.  I still read other blogs a lot (pretty much all I do when pumping), but when I try to wrap my head around writing a post, editing pictures, and using precious time to blog, something else usually wins out.  Still, I like having the outlet here if and when I want it.

My first year as a mother has been so crazy.  I have never loved another human being like I love Allie.  It reminds me of the symbiotic relationship between E.T. and Elliot.  I feel like I hurt when she hurts.  If she is happy, I am happy.  Her smile makes me instantly smile.  As probably any mother will attest to, it's hard to describe this love.  It's actually scary, because it's the kind of love you really fear losing and you know that you would suffer extreme pain if anything were to happen to this creature you are completely absorbed with.  It makes me feel like I can't breathe to even think about it.

Changing your identity to a mother means it's not about you anymore.  I always knew that and I thought I was prepared for it, but it has still been a huge change.  Before I had Allie, I had so much free time to watch trashy TV, to go to trendy restaurants, to tie up my running shoes and hit the pavement, to clean my house, to snuggle my dog, to go to Target without a second thought, to blog...  Now all of those things are difficult to do, and require thought and planning.  They are all "big events" to me now and after thirty some odd years of doing whatever I want whenever I feel like it, it's been weird to give up all that freedom.  Still, I know my life has so much more meaning now and part of me thrives on life being so busy.

At some point I did get the hang of planning better around Allie's sleep, which helps me to feel like I have a better handle on everything else in my life (except the blog- ha!).  I guess when she became slightly more predictable sleeping at night and during naps I was able to snap out of it and tackle my long long list of things to do, which includes stuff like reading and watching TV, but also a lot of cleaning, laundry, and washing bottles.  It's really taken me all year to get a good balance though and I still wouldn't say I've completely figured it out.  In an ideal world I would have a lot more time to run, blog, watch Parenthood, organize my closet, and go out more.  I do some of these things sometimes, but most of them I do with no regularity at all.   I haven't run since Thanksgiving, which is ridiculous, I know.  It's just THAT hard for me to find the time to do it and it's so much less of a priority now.  I fit things in when I have an hour to spare, if it happens to be what I feel like doing in the hour that I have, or they fall by the wayside and I use the hour to fold Allie's laundry and shower (more often than not).  It's just reality.

Another thing I haven't talked about, but I do want to share for the sake of others that might be experiencing it, is that having a baby has been hard on my marriage.  A lot of people talk about how seeing their husband become a father makes their heart explode with love for him, and I do agree, it's an awesome thing and pretty overwhelming to feel your love grow when you add a person the two of you made.  Still, after that initial swell of pride and fuzzy feelings of love, came a lot of stress for us.  I've always said that any person you choose to marry has flaws and you are deciding whether you can live with those flaws or not.  I successfully lived with my husband's flaws for eleven years before we had Allie.  We went through furlough, miscarriages, and many other stressful events, and I thought having a baby would be the least of our troubles, more like a dream come true, but babies bring a lot of stress.  You lack sleep, your life is totally different, you are responsible for another human being, and you feel like there are so many decisions to be made.  We were not always on the same page, and maybe my husband being a pilot exacerbated that because we weren't able to commiserate daily on how to handle things, a lot of it gets differed to me, which makes things weird when he is home and is trying to jump in and be involved.  His aforementioned flaws that used to be cute and quirky (I married the slowest person alive), became serious annoyances when things were stressful.  It's not just him either, I'm no picnic either.  I have a short temper, and when I'm stressed out, I'm basically just cranky.  We are kind of polar opposites and while I like to think we usually complement each other, it can be hard when taking care of a baby and things need to be agreed upon.  I like things scheduled and he likes to fly by the seat of his pants and throw schedules out the window.  That drives me nuts when it comes to Allie because I feel like babies NEED to keep on a schedule, but Greg doesn't, and doesn't get why I'm so rigid about naps, feedings, and bedtime.  I was also really consumed by motherhood and still am.  At times I really have to force myself to think about being a wife and put effort into cultivating that relationship.  It's been a huge adjustment.  Around six months in, we decided to do some marriage counseling and I don't know if it was the counseling or just both of us committing to working on things, but things did improve and I think we both have a better handle on it now.  Still, this has easily been the hardest year for our marriage.  I love my husband and our little family though.  I think we're going to survive being parents, but it's taken a lot of getting used to!

What else?  Well I'm definitely a helicopter mom.  It's funny because with a lot of things in life I am a fairly laid back person, but with my fragile baby, I am like a roll of bubble wrap, constantly hovering around her scared she will fall.  And she does fall, a lot, which sort of negates the whole mission of being a helicopter mom!  As I said before, I also found out that I like things very scheduled when it comes to Allie.  As soon as I pick her up from daycare I read her full report on when she napped, ate, pooped, etc...  I want to know it all.  I'm quite the control freak!

If you had to ask me what one of my favorite things about the first year has been, I would say breastfeeding.  We've made it to year and I have LOVED it.  The thought of stopping makes me cry, and honestly, I thought when we got to a year, I'd be well on my way to weaning, but I can't even bring myself to stop pumping this week because I also just like knowing she's having my milk when she is away from me.  I feel like it connects us.  I just can't even describe the overwhelming love I feel for my daughter when I am feeding her and she is snuggled up against me.  I love sniffing her hair, stroking her cheek, and squeezing her foot.  It's beyond special to me and I am not sure when I will wean her, but basically I have no plan to just yet, which isn't something I would have expected.  I know I am very, very lucky to have had such a good experience, but just so you know, breastfeeding hasn't always been easy for me.  I have had many days and weeks when I thought my supply was dipping and I was sweating over whether I could pump enough to keep up with demand.  It's hard when you have a certain number of ounces you have to have for daycare and you realize you might come up short.  I ate lactation cookies, took fenugreek, drank mother's milk tea, doubled my water intake, have eaten too many bowls of oatmeal to count, and ate like a pig to keep up with the demand.  I had nights when I couldn't get my boobs to let down and had to feed Allie a bottle of pumped milk.  I've dipped into my freezer stash so much that many times I was down to only 2-3 bags of frozen milk and I thought that would be it.  I've also declined to do things that I knew would be too difficult because of breastfeeding or pumping.  If I had to do it over, I think I would, but part of me wonders if I should have introduced formula at some point and had it there as an option.  It would probably have been a lot less stressful.  After a while, I had gone so long without introducing formula, that it seemed like it would be more stressful to try to get her to take it than to just keep on feeding her breast milk, whatever I had to do to keep making it. Also, when we found out Allie had the milk allergy that confirmed it for me that I would breastfeed as long as I could since she could only have certain formula without milk proteins anyway.  I am glad for that reason we didn't give her formula, because she would have been allergic to most kinds.  Anyway, we've gotten through it and it's been totally worth it.  That's just been my experience, I totally respect a mother's choice and ability to do what they have to do to feed her child.

I still am happy with my choice to go back to work, most days.  I miss Allie all the time, but I like having work in my life as well.  I feel like Allie is doing well at daycare.  I like that she has that social interaction and that they keep her on a schedule, and I feel like she enjoys it.  I don't know if any mother is ever 100% sure of the decision to work or stay home, but I feel pretty good about where we are.  It is definitely a lot to work and be a mom though.

Us outside earlier today.

I've enjoyed watching Allie grow and it's amazing how far she's come in a year, from the tiny baby that could barely move on her own, to one that is almost walking on her own now (10 steps is probably her record!).  I can't wait to see how this next year goes!  Hopefully I'll be posting more of a formal one year update on Allie next!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Holidays 2013

Since I haven't really been blogging much aside from monthly updates on Allie, I thought I would back up a little and give the overview of my holidays this year.  Obviously this was an important Christmas, since it was Allie's first!  As per usual, Christmas was celebrated multiple times because of family schedules.  Normally my brother picks a weekend in between Thanksgiving and Christmas to come visit, and this year, we actually picked the weekend before Thanksgiving to do sort of an early Christmas get together (Confused yet?  Yeah, me too).

Our visit was fun as usual, but two little ones in the mix made for a different visit than past years.  Much more planning around naps, and less time out exploring and doing other kinds of activities.  We did a bunch of lunches out, scheduled around naps, and had all our dinners and breakfasts in.

My mom had the idea to have the girls do a cooking class at The Liberty, so we did do that, while the guys watched the babies.  It was pretty awesome to be out enjoying food, wine, and good company.

The theme of the cooking class was Thanksgiving and everything was delicious!

Most of the weekend revolved around Allie and my niece.  They were pretty cute interacting.  At one point they were sharing Puffs!  We all can't wait to see what their relationship is like as they grow up.  They are exactly a year and a half apart in age, so we all think they could be close!

One of the highlights of the weekend was when my friend Lindsay took pictures of us.  She got some great shots of everyone, including the first in this post, plus this one of the girls...

A bunch of good ones of my little family...

Our Christmas card picture!
Also some cute ones of Allie and I...

I love that Lindsay got so many cute shots of everyone!

Next up was Thanksgiving, which I spent in Hilton Head, as usual.  Last year I didn't run the Turkey Trot because I was pregnant, but this year I decided to do it, even though my running could be described as pathetic at best this past year.

I actually surprised myself and pulled out a time of slightly over 28 minutes, which isn't too far off of my PR for a 5K (a little over 27 min).  I think I tend to run 5Ks when I'm really not trained to do any other distance, so my PR is not great.  Anyway, I was glad to keep the tradition alive, but I can't say that it was one of my better races.  I've resigned to the fact that I'm just not in a place where I have time to dedicate to my once beloved hobby.  I hope eventually I'll get back to it.

The rest of the Thanksgiving weekend in Hilton Head was spent doing the usual walks, shopping, and eating.

I thought Allie would be into some of the Thanksgiving foods, but most of them were not a hit.  She did have fun though.

Fast forward to Christmas.  In early December, I met Kelly at the mall for pictures with Santa!

This is a picture of a picture, but Allie did okay.  They took four pictures, and the first three were complete deer in headlights.  This was the fourth shot, which most resembled a smile.  She melted down and started to cry in the fifth shot!

We actually did a second attempt the following weekend with less professional pictures and a smaller setting.  She did much better, but I still kind of like the first picture better.

Greg was off from Saturday, December 21st til Monday, December 23rd.  I took the 23rd and 24th off to watch Allie since daycare was closed, so we ended doing our family of three Christmas on the morning of the 23rd.

This year we set up our tree in our "formal" living room instead of the family room, because it's an area less traveled by Allie and since we have a play yard set up for her in the living room where the tree normally goes.  It worked out pretty well having it there, although I probably did kind of miss seeing the tree from the kitchen and other parts of the house since the family room is more centrally located.

Allie wore a Christmas themed outfit for the occasion.

Then settled in to opening presents.  We didn't time things very well, as she had already been up a couple hours before we started.  She did well during the stocking opening portion though, and really loved the rubber ducks she found in there (she's very into ducks right now).

We ended up taking a break and putting her down for her morning nap and then resuming things later.

Clyde enjoyed his presents too.

That rubber chicken was a hit with both kids.  Allie keeps trying to steal it.

The lamb in this picture of us was a big hit.  It tells nursery rhymes and was sent to Allie by my in-laws.

Allie is pretty fascinated with it...  It was a low-key, but nice Christmas for our little family.  Greg was gone on Christmas Day, but my parents were here and we got to do the whole thing again.

Ok, I think this is officially the longest holiday recap ever.  Anyway, I think Allie enjoyed her first holiday season.  I'm sure every year it'll get more and more exciting as she starts to understand what's going on.  Even so, it was fun to watch her experience it and it definitely made the holidays more special for me and my family having her here with us this year.
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