04/25/2011

Going Back to Work After Anna's Birth

It's been a little over a week since I went back to work. I was fortunate enough to get 12 weeks off paid from my company ("paid" since I had six years of sick time saved up!) and it feels like I've never left work but also that I've been away forever.

The First Eight Weeks

The first eight weeks were hands down the hardest. I had no idea what I was doing and it seemed like every second I needed to be doing something with Anna. Finding time to put her down and take a shower sometimes was my biggest challenge of the day and it could be overwhelming.

Anna-as-baby-rambo

(Anna becomes Baby Rambo when her bow starts to come off. Hanging out with Aunt Steph.)

I had a mini-breakdown around the eight week mark. I mentioned that I was breastfeeding her exclusively and on-demand, so I'd feed her whenever she was hungry. I kept waiting and waiting for my milk to be enough where I could still feed her AND pump enough to get a supply saved up in the freezer for when I went back to work, but that day never happened. I'd only be able to pump an ounce or less at a time and it was starting to stress me out.

I realized that I couldn't keep up what I was doing and so with Anna getting her first round of shots, and with a lot of encouragement from Cody and friends that switched to formula after breast milk, I gave her a formula/breastmilk bottle for the first time.

Anna-and-mommy-on-the-couch

(Passing time with Mommy while the floors are getting redone downstairs.)

It probably makes total sense to some women, and seems silly to other women, but it was really emotional for me. I had envisioned that I'd be the kind of Mom that would breastfeed until she was at least six months old and I even talked about wanting to follow the AAP recommendations and continue with at least one feeding a day of breast milk until she was a year old. Coming to the realization that I couldn't do that was heartbreaking. It's hard to not feel like you're a bad mom for not giving her the best source of nuitrience that you can.

The Last Four Weeks

But then, it seemed like all the stress of being able to continue to breastfeed her after going back to work was preventing me from really enjoying motherhood. As soon as I started supplementing her with formula it's like my whole world changed. I ENJOYED every moment with her and the fogginess of day-to-day life with a newborn went away. My last four weeks of maternity leave was amazing. Cody was probably relieved as I was much more pleasant to be around. Anna started sleeping longer at night (which gave us some much needed sleep too) and I didn't have to worry about pumping in the middle of the night either.

Anna-asleep-with-drool

(Asleep on Daddy, complete with drool!)

I have friends who can feed their baby AND pump an entire bottle of milk and coming to the realization that I couldn't do that, but that it was okay, was huge.

The First Day Back

I thought last Monday was going to be full of tears and guilt, but surprisingly, it went really well. I think it 100% had to do with finding a babysitter who I trust completely and who I see eye-to-eye with on how to raise kids. I picked Anna up that afternoon and I was so excited to see her. She was awake from pick-up to bed time and I loved every minute I had with her.

I hate only having 30-60 minutes with her in the morning and really hate putting her in her carrier when she's in such a good mood, but I'm happy that she's at a place with two older children (2 and 3, and the three-year-old girl LOVES "Baby Anna" and LOVES to help do everything for her--it's adorable).

Anna-giggling-outside

(Cody is the king of making Anna giggle! Photos by Aunt Dianne!)

I wish she didn't have to be gone all day and I'm hoping that we can pick her up early a few days a week (when Cody gets off work early or if my sister wants to hang out with her in the afternoon's, etc.). I know that it will be hard again when she gets to the age where she realizes that Mom is leaving, and even harder when she can talk and she tells me that she wants to stay at her house, but for right now it's working and I feel so blessed that we found her babysitter.

04/14/2011

Family Nap

Family-nap

There is no lack of snuggling at my house. The dog, the cat and the baby.

04/13/2011

Living Room and Dining Room Redecoration, Day 2

(You can catch up on your reading of the new flooring/redecorating here: Day 1: Furniture Removal).

Day Two

They arrived bright and early to start the demo work on the floor. I knew it would be messy, but what a pain to get everything up.

Day-2-entryway

The living room had carpet, so it only took 10 minutes or so to rip up, but the rest of the floor was engineered wood glued down or the small area of marble tile in the entryway. The wood would come up in small pieces and since the glue has to be removed before the tile can be put down, pulling the wood up was only part of the process.

Day-2-floor-near-stairs

Most of the flooring was pulled up by the end of the day, but what a long and manual process.

Day-2-living-room

During it all Cody and I decided to have them go ahead and rip out the tile around the fireplace (the same marble tile as the entryway) since we want to replace it with a rock veneer. Might as well go ahead and demo it while the house is a mess. So it's added one more thing we need to do once the flooring is complete.

Day-2-fireplace

You can see the the really smart homeowner before us installed the tile directly to drywall, so we have a couple holes in the wall. Nice.

While this was going on, Spangler, Anna and I hung out upstairs most of the day while "the girls" (what I call our two cats, Sage and Drifter) were in our bedroom downstairs (which the only part of downstairs that isn't getting the tile floor).

I know some people are anti-crate training (and I've heard lots of opinions) but Spangler really does love his crate. He puts himself to bed almost every night and even takes a lot of his naps in his "bed." So, there is only one place to go when there are weird people in your house and . . . Spangler goes and watches the demo work from his crate (and yes, the door is wide open).

Day-2-spangler-in-crate

I don't even try to understand him.

04/11/2011

Living Room and Dining Room Redecoration, Day 1

Cody and I moved into our house in February of 2009. One of the reasons we bought it over some of the other homes we looked at was that parts of it were already updated--lots of white moulding, my favorite! But, one of the things we knew we wanted to replace once we moved in was the flooring.

And it's now April of 2011 (26 months later) and we still have the same flooring.

The carpet has seen better days and even the hardwood floors aren't in the best condition (and it's the kind of hardwood that we can't sand down and stain). The previous owner installed the hardwood floor himself, laying it in a brick pattern instead of the random pattern that it should have been. It also had some considerable water damage around the windows and had begun to separate from each other in some areas (so when I mopped the dirty water would seep down in the spaces and it was just gross).

We're FINALLY getting the downstairs flooring redone and we're using this opportunity to also redo the look of the living and dining room.

Before

The main colors were taken from our house in Illinois, which are a deep red with oranges and yellows. I used the "primitive" look (new things that look old) mixed in with the some traditional items, like the shape of the leather couches.

DSC_0334

(Sniff. I will miss these pillows, although they really do need to be replaced. The front fabric was a steal. Originally $80/yard 100% silk, I got one yard for $18. I just used $1/yard red polyester fabric from Wal-Mart for the back.)

DSC_0328

It's good timing to change the look since Spangler managed to pull the curtain through his crate, ripping the bottom to shreds. He also bent the curtain rod.

DSC_0328_with-comments

The other good reason this is happening is because at the entry to our house we have a grey marble tile, which in itself isn't bad, but three different types of flooring just come together here. And that is just a big no-no.

Hey, the rule of threes is always good in design, just not when it comes to flooring.

DSC_0331

Day One

Yesterday Cody headed to Home Depot and picked up 45 boxes of tile. We are using the same tile we used in the half bathroom last summer, Tuscany Rouge 18 x 18 porcelain tile. We lucked out and found a store that had, in stock, enough for the entire project. He got  all 45 boxes of tile, 12 50lb bags of thinset and four 25lb bags of grout. The tile weighed 65lbs PER BOX so it took two pick-up trucks to haul it to our house. Thank goodness for good friends in pick-up trucks!

DSC_0336

We moved the furniture out and the flooring/redecoration project has begun.

(Hi Sage!)

DSC_0338

It's going to be fun to have all this going on with a big black dog and a 11 week old baby.

DSC_0339

But, I know it's going to pay off.

Stay tuned . . .

04/05/2011

Finally, Some Mommy/Anna Pictures

I'm usually the one behind the camera. I love taking pictures and really love capturing all of the people that love Anna and choose to spend their time with her.

But, sometimes that means that the everyday moments of me and her go by with nothing to document it.

DSC_0118

Before we left for the awards dinner the Saturday before last Cody snapped a few pictures of me and Anna.

DSC_0124

I love them.

DSC_0127

They are perfect in their imperfection.

DSC_0135

And, something I'm going to make sure to do more often.

04/04/2011

Good Saturday's

This past weekend was great. We spent some much needed time together as a family, just taking care of things around the house on Saturday and doing our usual routine of church and Bible study on Sunday.

Saturday morning Anna woke up at 2am, 4am and again at 5am and Cody found himself unable to go back to bed so he got up and hung out with her, letting me sleep in until 8am. Let me tell you, it felt great. I then had a hair appointment and disappeared for another few hours, with Saturday morning turning into a really great break for me and some good Daddy-Daughter time for Cody. We worked a bit on the garage Saturday afternoon (trying to get it organized and gone-through) and finished the day with a burger and dessert with some friends.

This was a big difference from the two previous Saturday's where we stayed busy out of town. We worked one Saturday at Cody's parents, putting in a new floor in their bathroom (well, Cody and his Dad put in the new floor while Anna and I hung out with Cody's Mom and sisters) and then the following Saturday we got a baby-free evening, celebrating the young alumni award Cody received from our alma mater.

(We even got to dress up!)

DSC_0142

It was a beautiful evening put on by our Alumni Association, celebrating not only Cody but three "Outstanding Alumni," an "Outstanding Faculty/Staff" and an "Outstanding Friend" of the university.

DSC_0157

Cody had to give a quick speech (eek!) but he really did great.

And I know he felt a little ridiculous to be honored, as he just gets up and does his job every day, but it was great for his hard work to be honored in this way. I am just so proud of him! It was one of those, "Hey, that is MY husband!" moments.

DSC_0174

Lots of good Saturdays recently.

03/31/2011

Rasing Her Up Right

My friend Jacque came over with her own bundle of joy, Hudson, who is now almost 20 weeks old.

Jackie-anna-hudson-and-jacque

The size difference between Anna and Hudson is pretty laughable. It makes sense since they are 10 weeks apart. Anna now weighs just a little over what Hudson did when he was born. So, to humor Jacque and myself we laid them side by side in Anna's pack-and-play and got a kick out of how different they are from each other.

DSC_0091

But then Hudson made a move.

DSC_0105

"Hey Anna. I like the rolls on your thigh."

DSC_0107

"Your skin is pretty soft. Does your Mom use Johnson and Johnson's too?"

DSC_0109

"You know, the kind in the yellow bottle?"

I don't think Anna was having any of it.

DSC_0111

"Um, excuse me Hudson."

"But my Daddy said I can't touch boys until I'm at least 35."

Yep. Her Daddy is raising her up right!

03/30/2011

Multi-Tasking, A Good Way To Start The Week

Cody is out of town this week for work and I knew that I wouldn't want to be at the house, by myself, with a 9.5 week old baby and a 83 pound black lab. So, I made plans to head out to my parents house for two nights. I could get adult time and they could get Anna time.

My parents aren't, what you call, large dog people so I was set to board Spangler at our vet for both nights (we tried boarding him at the doggy-fun-park-type place but ended up with a significant vet bill, so we opt now for the vet boarding).

Cody and I were both up around 6am and I began the huge task of packing for myself, Anna and Spangler. I was proud that I ended up getting everything done by around 9:30 (hey, three and a half hours isn't TOO bad, right?) which was a half hour before my 10am deadline. I had a 11:15 appointment with the oncologist and needed to get Spangler to the vet before then. Also, because I'm so good at planning ahead, I realized that we were pretty much out of dog food, so I needed to stop by the pet store before taking Spangler to the vet.

I'm not really sure how, but I managed to pick up a small bag of dog food with both Anna and Spangler in tow and we made it to the vet by 10:30. My three and a half hour prep time that morning didn't allow any time for breakfast so I swung into McDonald's and got their new steak and egg breakfast burrito (highly recommended if you crave a little Micky D's now and then) and started to head over to the oncologist.

Packed-car

Anna was waking up and getting very hungry, and in my moment of super-Mom-ness I heated her already-prepared bottle, on the drive over, in the hot water that I brought from home. (Sometimes I feel like I have everything under control. Just don't ask me about the time I drove 25 minutes to meet my sister for lunch and left Anna's prepared bottle, as well as the shield I have to use when I nurse her, sitting on the bench next to the front door. Nothing like having NO way to feed your hungry child. That is just one of my not-so-great Mom moments.)

We got to my oncologist appointment early (Cody would be so proud!) and it was great to provide a distraction for the folks in the waiting room, most who appeared to be undergoing chemo. Who doesn't feel better when looking at an adorable baby?

The nurse assistant called on Friday to remind me of my appointment and made me promise to bring Anna, and sure enough, the entire staff was all over her. I had no problems finding someone to hold her while they drew blood, checked my vitals and weighed me. And then it was wait time for Dr. A.

Baby-stuff-in-purse

(I've mentioned before that I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) back when I was only 15 weeks pregnant with Anna. At delivery my blood platelet levels came in at 54k, just shy of the 50k mark, which is when I would have had to get a platelet transfusion. The day after I delivered they came in at 64k, and I was hopeful that my ITP was only gestational, but at my six week post-delivery doctors appointment, they came in at 55k.)

Dr. A came in and after getting some Anna-holding time, finally made the "official" diagnosis of chronic ITP. He told me that he felt comfortable with me not getting the bone marrow test (a huge relief, since I really didn't want to have to go through that) and just wants me to get monitored once a month for the next six months, then every year after that.

Anna-at-the-oncologists-office

As long as my platelets can stay over 20k, I'll be okay.

It was a huge relief. I had a good morning where I felt in control of the craziness of packing and getting everything together. I had an even better morning where I got some good news in a possibly bad situation.

It was a good start to the week.

03/28/2011

No, I Did Not Take A Picture

I was getting ready to leave to have lunch with Steph (she bribed me again with a free lunch, this time  at McAlister's) and was literally ten minutes from leaving, which means I was running around like a crazy person trying to get Anna and myself ready. Spangler was out in the back yard and I heard him jump in the pool.

Ugh. Frustrating. It would take a good five minutes to dry him off, adding to my busy morning.

I finish getting everything else done and changed gears to deal with Spangler, as he was the last thing to do on my list. All of a sudden, he rings his bell to be let in and I walk over to the door to see him holding a squirrel in his mouth. So, I stayed really calm, opened the door, told him to drop it and let him in.

Just kidding. I freaked out!

I called Cody, who was at work, and he started laughing so hard when he heard why I was calling. He wanted me to tell Spangler to "drop" the squirrel, but seriously, I couldn't even look at the stupid thing. Luckily, by the time I got off the phone he dropped it on his own so I let him inside.

I immediately bribed him with a treat so his squirrel mouth wouldn't go anywhere near Anna or me!

I may be a little crazy with documenting my life with pictures, but this was one thing that I was too freaked out about to even THINK about taking a picture.

03/27/2011

The Sushi Love Continues

I knew it . . . I knew my discovery of sushi that occurred when I was pregnant wasn't a pregnancy-only craving. So when Steph offered to try a sushi restuarant in Fort Worth that she had a Groupon for, I jumped at the chance.

(I think when my family members act like they want to see me, they are really wanting to see Anna. Steph knows that bribing me with a free lunch is the best way to get some Anna time.)

The only problem was this was going to be my first time without Cody at a restaurant with Anna. And anyone that has had a newborn knows how unpredictable they are. She could be really good; or, it could end up bad.

Sushi-restaurant-with-steph-and-anna

But, she did great! Aunt Stephanie did most of the baby-holding and the bottle I pumped ahead of time kept her full and content. (I just ask the waitress for a glass half-full of hot water and I can easily heat her bottle up.)

The love of (cooked) sushi continues . . .