Friday, August 8, 2014

on going back to work

Baby Girl is now 8 weeks old and I am finally starting to feel a bit more "normal"--well, my new normal that is. The babe went through a fussy/clingy phase all last week, but has been totally awesome this week (hence a bit of time for blogging).  I have loved being home with her and have spent a lot of time contemplating whether or not I was going to return to work. 

Before she was born I kept telling people I didn't know if I would come back after she arrived. I did know that it would be impossible to really decide before I met her and got my introduction to parenting a newborn (hello, sleep deprivation!). 

Her premature arrival all but sealed the deal for me. She was so, so tiny--only 4lb 1oz the day we brought her home. There was so much nervousness around her lung development, the heart murmur, the sacral dimple, and the fact that we were now parents of a newborn who seemed much more like a little baby bird than baby person. Surprising to perhaps no one, it is WAY different from being parents to a soon-to-be second grader!

Two weeks ago, when I was visiting  my office for a farewell luncheon, my boss pulled me aside and asked if I was coming back to work. Still, even then, I was on the fence but I think I already knew in my heart what I was going to do (and, if I'm honest, probably before the babe was even born). This week, I gave him final notice that I will not be returning. 

There were a lot of factors that went into the decision:

Money. It's nice getting extra cash in our bank account every month, but what will the true amount be after paying for another kiddo in daycare? If I went back to work full time, daycare costs just for the baby would be over half of a paycheck (a full paycheck for both kiddos). If I went back part-time, daycare would cost the same and end up being more than I actually brought home. 

Time. Working full-time meant 50+ hours away from the baby every week. Our evenings were already packed last school year with homework, housework, trying to squeeze in workouts, and find a few minutes of downtime in the evening. There didn't seem to be any wiggle room for a new baby, too. Obviously, something would have to give. 

Personal fulfillment. A big factor for me was, do I feel fulfilled by my job? Honestly, as my pregnancy progressed, that answer kept leaning more and more toward no. There were a number of things that contributed to this, but the summary of them all were major changes at the office and my job changing in such a way that I simply was not happy anymore. I worked crazy hours at the end of my pregnancy--which my husband is convinced contributed to pre-term labor--and I knew that I could no longer be that person with a new baby. Everyone I work with is great, but the work itself no longer made me feel good. If I'm going to miss out on time as a mama, then the trade off must be worth it. 

Emotions. This was the biggest one for me in the end. When I look at my tiny girl, especially in the beginning, I couldn't imagine anyone else caring for her the way I do. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving her all day every day, then trying to divide attention between her, her sister, my husband, and life in the remaining few hours. Without family nearby, I just didn't feel there was anyone I could trust with her that wouldn't totally break my heart every day.

So, for now, I am shifting gears. After going through my "I've always worked!" existential crisis when I moved to Japan, it's much easier this time around. Priority one for now is trying to be the best mama I can be and enjoying the little moments that I would miss being at the office. The first year is so fascinating, and goes so quickly, and I really want to remember it all. My second priority will be finalizing my grad school plans. I need to study for the GRE and either make time to take it in Tokyo or take it as soon as we get to our next base. I also need to find a program that interests me, will further my career goals and give me more potential opportunities, and is flexible enough to work with our military life. It might be tough, but I know it's possible if I look hard enough. 

I definitely see myself going back to work. Maybe as soon as we leave here, or maybe in a couple years after I focus on school full-time. At the end of the day, this is a season, and one I know will pass all too quickly.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

17 days!

Somehow, I have a 17 day old baby already! And, I'm still working on actually getting her birth story written. (Oops!) I was definitely not prepared for these newborn days, especially with the whirlwind of a preemie on top of it! I am totally exhausted, and my days are currently filled with what seems like nothing but baby, breasts, and diaper changes, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. This experience is an absolute gift and I do not take that for granted. I know that this season is so, so short and that it will pass all too quickly. I spend most of the day just staring at our precious miracle baby and wondering how I got so lucky to be her mama.

The past couple of weeks have been a blur, which I chalk up to the newborn "daze." (Originally, I'd told Hubs to save his paternity leave for later, but I'm so glad he took it now!) Baby and I spent 5 days in the hospital, and after getting discharged we have had a bunch of follow up appointments (plus Hubs has been running around doing a million things paperwork-wise). Before leaving, the pediatrician told me that a heart murmur popped up during the latest exam and she has a dimple on her back that, in rare cases, can indicate issues with the spinal cord. We were referred to the big hospital about an hour away (Japanese hospital, mind you!) and were stressing every day until the appointment. (Note: during this time we also had to watch her breathing like hawks due to her preemie lungs.) The pediatrician also told me that she might need to be sedated for the heart check, which nearly made my own heart stop.

Naturally, once we got to the hospital and met up with our translator, she finds out that the base hospital never finished the process to confirm our appointment. So we didn't have one. Luckily, though, the doctor squeezed us in between other patients. While it took about 2 hours longer than it should have, we were just glad not to have to go home having wasted half the day. After being a total rock star for her first echocardiogram (no sedation needed!), the good news was that the hole is tiny, is the most common "defect," and will likely close up on its own. If it doesn't close, she shouldn't have any health problems from it and it will not require any surgery or treatment.

The next major appointment was an ultrasound on her back to check out the sacral dimple. The pediatrician said it can sometimes mean that the spinal cord did not seal off properly in utero. Not at all scary, right? Luckily that appointment was on base, super quick, and the radiologist was there so he could give me the results immediately. Everything on the inside looks great! I was so relieved, because just seeing my tiny girl on the giant grown-up sized table made me emotional.

All in all, our sweet babe is trucking right along. She's in preemie diapers right now and will probably be in newborn ones for some time. Eventually I plan to transition to cloth, but at this moment she is simply too little. As of her two-week check-up she finally (just) surpassed her birth weight and got up to 4lbs and 7oz (she was 4lbs 6.6oz at birth and 4lbs 1oz at discharge). Breastfeeding has been a bit of a challenge for us, but we are continuing to work on it, and may end up supplementing formula for a little while as we wait for my supply to (hopefully) catch up to her appetite. I am thinking having a preemie might have thrown my body for a loop, so I'm keeping fingers crossed everything works out. Our house is a crazy wreck of tiny baby clothes and accessories, but we are loving every second we have with just the three of us at home (Big Sis is stateside for summer, and Hubs is back to work on Monday, then my family arrives on Friday). I still feel sort of in shock that I'm not still pregnant--I should be 38 weeks today--but I am truly soaking up every minute of this baby journey.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

surprise!

On Monday morning, I took my weekly belly picture (ignore that it's pre-editing). This one was 35 weeks and 3 days:

Almost exactly 23 hours later, we welcomed this little nugget into the world:

It was certainly a surprise (turns out I was in labor all day at work on Monday!), and I am working on writing her birth story. In the meantime, I'm officially discharged but still "boarding" at the hospital with her while we get her weight up and the pediatrician can observe her for a little while longer.
My heart is overflowing for this teeny tiny person.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lately, ever since my Hawaii trip, life seems to be moving in fast forward. Somehow, it's already been a month since I wrote about recharging and on Sunday we welcome June. June! Tomorrow I have completed 34 weeks of pregnancy--somehow--and the reality that a newborn will soon join our family is really starting to sink in. Work has been totally nuts--which is why I think I have been so drained--and while I love the idea of working, I am definitely ready to hit the brakes for a while. Hubs went TDY for a couple weeks in the midst of everything, so that was just another thing to add to the exhaustion. (Seriously, single parents/caregivers? SUPERHEROES.) I have a queue of blog posts all in draft form, incomplete. My social media energy has been focused on updating my fitness challenge group for my folks working toward beach bodies (thank goodness for hootsuite), and then all my writing energy is consumed with letters to the baby, and I'm behind on those too! I promise I am trying to keep up with all the blog reading (even though I am terrible about commenting lately), and will be back to regular writing as soon as I can muster the energy. I am learning, quickly, that I cannot do all the things I could before and I am trying to honor where I am right now. It's definitely not something I'm used to, but I know it will pay off greatly in the end!

Monday, April 28, 2014

recharging

Blogging, and honestly most other things, has been on the back burner for some time as you may have noticed if you've stuck around here. Pregnancy has taken so much more out of me emotionally than I ever anticipated, and I simply have not had much energy to go around. My life for the past few months turned into this hyper-focus of work, trying to not fail at being wife/mom, wrapping my head around the fact that a newborn will be here soon, and stressing about the future (in just about every way). Needless to say, my normal high-strung personality was on overdrive. 

So, I just got back from a week in Hawaii with my mom. It was the first time I'd left Misawa for more than a couple of hours since JULY (and that was only a long weekend) which, let me tell you, was way.too.long. Hubs and I like to travel, but with work and school schedules and trying to save up leave for the baby, it just wasn't happening. Then our delayed winter set in and we had some crazy snow--including an ACTUAL snow day which almost never happens here (the last one was 2 years ago). 

About a week before, I had seen that one of the military hotels in Hawaii had availability for basically all of April and May. I knew that if I wanted to have a baby-moon the window was shrinking rapidly for me to be able to fly anywhere. At that point, I didn't even care where I went as long as it was warm. I texted my mom and she said she'd be willing to meet up there. I booked the hotel immediately and as soon as the crazy blizzard arrived, I bought my plane ticket that same morning. My doctor cleared me for flying the next week and I was good to go! 

I'll have more vacation updates soon, and while the trip wasn't exactly what we had planned, it was still SO nice to have that break from normal life. I needed it even more than I realized. My world will be flipped upside down (again) in only a few short months and I know that without the break I probably would have just had a total freakout before then. It's especially hard, if not impossible, for me to truly unwind here. Now, I finally feel refreshed and more mentally ready to welcome another little person into our family. Better for all of us!
 
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