Raw, Real, and Unfiltered Motherhood

If I had posted this picture a year ago, it would have shown an exhausted breastfeeding mom trying to adapt to a new job while working from home at the beginning of a pandemic. Fast forward to now, and I am still exhausted working from home in the middle of a pandemic, minus the breastfeeding. I snapped this picture right before a 9am Zoom call so I could forever remember how crazy it is to truly be a parent.

Ana was with me at home all week due to a fever and respiratory virus that just would not let up. She’s finally on the mend, and while I’m fairly certain she can return to school on Monday, we are giving her this weekend to get additional rest. Work has been nuts (in a good way). Ana came with me to deliver Passover meals last Friday, and while that is certainly not the norm, having her as my copilot to bring smiles to isolated seniors brought so much joy.

This picture represents reality. It shows a toddler wanting to be held, which is how she currently wants to spend the majority of her time. It shows a mother in pajamas with a cardigan over a t-shirt just to show that effort was made. Hair was in a ponytail and my filter-screen glasses covered any dark circles I may had. Slippers were in full effect because I’m not about to put effort into footwear that no client will see. My mirror? Well, that’s a whole another story. I don’t know when it was last cleaned and I just hope that any spots on my clothing are actually on the mirror and not me. The bedroom is a mess. It’s vacuumed and the bed is always made, but it’s otherwise filled with toddler toys, dog toys, and random pieces of clothing that I wish would just disappear but not yet haven’t.

Despite the exhaustion, the dirty mirror, the cluttered floor, and the hip pain from holding 19# on and off all day (will take all carrier recommendations!), motherhood is beautiful. It’s crazy, yes, but beautiful. I will forever be proud to show my daughter how beauty can still be found in the midst of chaos. Parenthood is the hardest job in the world -primarily because you’re expected to have 100 different jobs and know how to do all of them while keeping a human alive- but it is so so worth it.

Loving this little lady with every ounce of my being.

A Monday in Motherhood

Mondays: The beginning of a new week, a fresh start, a chance to do better. For some, it’s a day to get back to the grind and knock out five days until the weekend. For others, it may be the start to their weekend. No matter the situation, however, I’ve found you either love or hate Mondays; there’s no in-between.

For this mama, today meant taking care of a sick 16-month-old while trying to work as well. Since working from home due to the pandemic, I’ve been fortunate that Ana has excellent daycare with teachers who love her. Although there were months last summer where she was home with me quite a bit, she wasn’t yet walking and the three naps a day made work a bit easier. Today, not so much.

By 7am, there were raspberries squished on the floor. By 8am, there was snot on my sleeve, toothpaste on my shirt, and pancake syrup on my collarbone. By 9am, I was one cup of coffee in and thinking about an appropriate time to make another. It’s now 10am and her usual 1.5 hour nap has only last 45 minutes, therefore affecting my crunch time to knock out notes. It has the potential to be a long day.

You know what though? It may be a long day, and it may be even longer when my husband gets home and immediately starts his call night at 5:00 and I’m getting ready for my Introduction to Judaism class at 7:00. It may be a long afternoon when she pushes off nap because she’d rather play and I’m willing her to go to sleep with every ounce of my being. It may just be a long day -a long Monday to be specific- but it’s another day with her. Time spent watching her grow and having her see her mama work hard at jobs she loves: Motherhood and her career. It’s not a bad Monday and it’s not a good one. It’s simply a Monday in Motherhood: Unpredictable, crazy, exhausting, and full of surprises.

Now I’m going to change my shirt, comb my hair, and wipe raspberries off the floor, all while checking my work voicemails. Oh, and I hear her in the monitor. It’s now 10am and I’m thinking about that second cup of coffee.

Kroger Clearance Haul

Saving money is always a good thing, but especially now when we just don’t know what will be available at certain times. If the items are going to be used and there’s space, then I love to buy items I know won’t spoil and we will use at some point. I do not claim to be a budget guru (Truthfully, I am a terrible at it.), but I get a thrill out of finding deals and realizing how much I have saved in the long run.

Today’s Kroger trip was no exception. We needed a few items and while I do not advocate for going to the store for one or two things because you will often spend money on full-price items simply because you’re there, the store was on my way home and fresh fruit is a must-have for our growing toddler. After my produce was grabbed, I immediately went back to the clearance section. That should always be the first place you check. Did you know there’s often a reduced rack for produce and bread items? One of our local stores even has discounted dairy items! Checking out those racks first can end up saving you a great of money in the long run. The store wants you to clear out the clearance shelves so they don’t go to waste. Stock up!

Digital coupons on the Kroger app took $1 off each loaf, which made them only .79 per loaf.
Bread freezes well too.
A few of the goods.

New Keurig calls for a new reusable cup, and I was so glad to found at $5.50 down from $16. Pouches are perfect for daycare, and the chocolate bars are a good midday treat. Sir Kensington’s is an expensive brand, so I didn’t find $2.50 for dressing to be a bad price. Reusable plastic containers are great for daycare food, and I don’t mind if they don’t end up coming home with her. Again, these items are going to be used either immediately or at some point, so I don’t mind getting them.

What are some money tricks you do to save money?

Sugar, Spice, and Oh-So-Nice

Mother-Daughter Date Days have always been special, but they have become even more of a treat since Ana has returned to daycare full-time. Our time together is intentional and my whole focus can be on her rather than all the other tasks that need to get done. Today was no exception.

My husband was up at 4am for his call shift at the hospital, so I was prepared for a long day. For reference, it’s currently 8:00pm and he is still there. He, unfortunately, hasn’t seen Ana at all today, but she and I were able to spend a wonderful day together. Breakfast of muffins and fruit was relaxed, not rushed, like it is most mornings. She got a morning nap in, which she tends to miss at daycare due to snack time. At 15.5 months, I am soaking up the days she still naps two times!

Next on the agenda was Costco, one of our favorite places to shop. Sounds silly, but it so true. So much action, so many goodies, and even though indoor seating isn’t permitted right now, the Mocha Freeze Latte can always be taken home. Today was no exception. Ana is at the age where she is really starting to explore the world around her. She took in all the lights and sounds with a constant state of awe on her little face. She waved at a few people as they walked by. She smiled at the cashier and then babbled to the man in line behind us. Let’s just say the kid is a social butterfly and I love it. After Costco, we took McDonald’s home for lunch. While I know the food is terrible for anyone’s health, we believe in moderation, and I have no regrets for the French Fries we ate this afternoon.

Sharing is caring.

The highlight of the afternoon was our 1.5 mile walk with the dogs around the neighborhood followed by playtime. We explored new alleys we hadn’t walked down before and soaked up the sunshine on all our faces. Fresh air does the body good and we love to get a lot of it in this house. Playtime did not consist of anything fancy. In fact, we weren’t even in her room or the play area downstairs. We each had a dog bone and were chasing each other with them. It must have been a sight, I’m sure, but the joy on our faces was priceless. I’ll take selfies of cheesy smiles with my girl any day.

Blurry but so happy.

The rest of our day was spent reading books, eating pizza for dinner (supporting local is so important, especially now!), and simply being together until she passed out at 6:45. The Little Lady had a big day, and she needs her rest for another one tomorrow. It may seem strange writing an entry of today’s events that are so small to the general population. However, to us, they’re the big events. Time is not slowing down and seeing her grow and change is such a privilege. She’s sweet and feisty at the same time. She’s both independent and dependent. She is stubborn and yet so willing to give with her whole tiny heart. She’s my daughter, and being her mother is one of the best gifts I have ever been given.

Still a Good Parent

My husband and I both believe we are good parents. Our daughter is fed, secure, warm, stimulated, and loved beyond measure. We try our best to give her everything she needs to continue to be those things and we are so in awe of her. Our parenting styles are similar and her well-being is a priority to us. We are a team and like to think we are a decent one.

With that said, there are traits my husband has that make him an incredible father. He does the world’s best voices when reading to her, which he does A LOT. The girl loves books and would read all day if she could. He flies her down the stairs and does zoomies around the living room with her. (As dog owners, we all do zoomies in this household.) They are the cutest duo when he uses a toilet paper tube to make sounds while she bangs measuring cups on the kitchen floor. Needless to say, she’s a total daddy’s girl.

So many books are read in this corner of the room.

My husband is also the overly cautious one between the two of us. He cannot bear to see her get a shot and avoids dropping her off at daycare due to “feeling like the bad guy” leaving her. Food must be cut to specific sizes and given in individual pieces so she doesn’t get overwhelmed. I pick on him, but his concern as a father, especially a first-timer, is who he is both as a human being and parent.

Let’s just say those aspects of his parenting totally counteract mine. I may not like her getting a shot and the tears that follow, but they don’t last long and she gets mama snuggles as long as she needs to afterwards. Although the first day of daycare was hard on both of us, the drop-offs got easier in time. When I pick her up at the end of the day, her contagious smile makes me grin and I know she’s happy to be with me. She’s been a solid eater (no pun intended) since trying peanut butter first at six months, and has been gradually introduced to foods since then. At this point (15 months), she eats whatever we eat, making mealtimes so much easier. I never envisioned myself as an easygoing parent, but apparently I’m one who rolls with the punches and lets the little lady be a kid.

Now with that said, there are traits I have that my husband says make me a good mother. I am always looking for new ways to teach her things and creative in the approaches. I am proactive and resourceful. I am a planner and the keeper of the house: Finances, calendar, doctor appointments, vet appointments. Basically, I’m the lifeline of the household. My husband is none of those things, and he will be the first to admit it.

Post Oreo snack.

What we bring to the parenting table may be different, but they blend together nicely. The important things are mentioned above: Ana is loved. She is happy and secure. She gets fresh air, exercise, and lots of puppy and kitty time. We respect each other as individuals and parents.

At the end of the day, we are still good parents. Parenthood is exhausting. Working is exhausting. Living through a pandemic is exhausting. It is so easy to doubt ourselves when exhaustion exists and it can wear on ourselves and our relationships with others. Matt tells me I’m a wonderful mother and he is made known that he’s a fantastic father. Our little lady may adore her parents, but we are lucky to be raising her.

Mama/Daughter Date Day.
Christmas 2020
Guilty as charged.
Her Cuddle + Kind doll from Nana (Thanks ToyCycle for the secondhand find!)
Still good parents.

When the Test Comes Back Positive

You suddenly find yourself in a state of shock. You are torn between telling people for support and hiding in your place alone out of fear something could go wrong. You don’t want to rely on other people to bring you necessary items, but yet you cannot leave the house. Walking wears you out and you find yourself needing to take deeper breaths. All you want to do is sleep. Things are different now.

No, I’m not talking about pregnancy. I’m talking about COVID-19.

My husband was exposed at the hospital on November 14th by a patient who was not wearing a mask; he was, thankfully. His symptoms began a week later and tested positive 48 hours after that. I started having symptoms the day he tested positive and then received my positive diagnosis the following day. Our 14-month-old daughter is negative, thank heavens. We are now isolated until our symptoms have been gone for 24 hours and 10 days from their onset, so we do not know how long it will be. Our daughter is considered asymptomatic and needs to quarantine for two weeks after we are cleared, so it’s unknown when she will be allowed to return to daycare. Our normal suddenly looks very different than it did even a week ago.

As of now, our symptoms are mild, although my husband is losing his sense of smell. I joke that now that means he’s on diaper duty, but in all honesty, COVID-19 is not a joking matter. We have seen what can happen. We know people on the frontlines who are exhausted and worn out from long shifts and mentally drained from the trauma they’re seeing on a daily basis. Individuals who have COVID need greater care in the ICU than those who don’t and require manpower that is being taken away from patients who are there for other reasons. Our symptoms are mild, but there’s no guarantee they’ll stay that way.

This post is not one where I’m going to beg you to wear a mask and social distance, although they are the simplest ways to prevent the spread of this virus. My husband was exposed one time, ONE TIME, to someone without a mask, and now we are statistics. This could have been avoided. Are masks perfect? No, but they are better than nothing at all. I’m writing so you have evidence that this virus exists. It does not care who you are, your age, or your social status. It’s virulent and rapid spreading. It is one you don’t want to get.

There are so many reliable resources out there that are evidence-based and provide reliable information on the virus and its effects. The Covid Tracking Project is a volunteer-run effort to provide current data and trends about the pandemic and is updated regularly. As someone who is not a scientist, I have been able to navigate the site and make sense of what I am reading. It has been truly beneficial.

In closing, think of the ones you love. The ones you cherish more than anything in the world. Over 261K people have died this year from COVID-19: Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, siblings, employees, friends. Their lives mattered. Yours matters. Mine does. My husband, my daughter. We matter. Please. Now I’m begging you.

Wear a mask. You do not want this positive test.

The Mom I Thought I’d Be

I am not the mom I thought I’d be. I did not have two children by the time I turned 30 and am actually satisfied, at this point in time anyway, with one beautiful little girl.

I am not a stay-at-home mom. In fact, I work full-time, something I swore I would never do with a child. I love my career as a Social Worker and find it a blessing that my daughter gets to see her mother pursue her passion.

I am not a DIY mom. Sure. I DIY a few things now and then and enjoy a good craft (Pinterest for the win!), but all in all, it is not my thing. We go for walks, play outside, and read books regularly, all things that are considered a win in my book.

I am not a meal planning budget guru. I coupon because I enjoy it (cash back apps get so much use on my phone!), and I never pass up a good deal on a clearance rack at Kroger. I’m thrifty, but not what you may call much of a budgeter. Meal planning something different every night is just not an action I find necessary to do. Some nights we have soup and sandwiches. Other nights it’s breakfast for dinner. On a good night with a slow day, we’ll have an oven-cooked meal with actual sides. It’s called balance, right?

I use disposable baby food pouches. From an eco-conscious perspective, it pains me to know how terrible they are for the environment. Based on my wallet, homemade food in reusable pouches is more cost-effective. However, there is something to be said for sanity, and stressing myself out will not do anyone any good.

I use disposable diapers. DYPER is our brand of choice and no other one compares. The subscription service is fantastic, and it’s reassuring to know that no bleach or chlorine is touching my little one. Again, this is one of the situations I swore I would never do. Cloth is still an incredible option, and I truly commend families who do it for their children. For us, however, DYPER works, and it meets our needs perfectly.

My daughter goes to daycare. This is something I wrestled with a great deal before I took my position. For those who know the story of how I got my job, it truly is a blessing that it happened the way it did. Her daycare is in the same building as my office, and she receives top-notch care with the most loving teachers. They enjoy their work and loving on the children in their care. I get to love all over her when she gets home and it’s amazing to see her growth since she started earlier this year.

Lastly, I am not always put together. I love the feeling after I work out but am terribly at actually doing it. I buy pieces that I know would pair beautifully with jeans, but let’s be honest: Who wears jeans while working from home in a pandemic? Not me. Makeup is not a must-have anymore. My complexion isn’t perfect and there’s some melasma from pregnancy, but natural feels better. I live in sneakers in the winter and Chaco’s in the summer because it makes chasing after her so much easier.

The things listed are all about the mom I’m not, but what about the mom I am? My daughter is fed and happy. She is healthy. She is stimulated daily by either her friends at daycare, nature during a walk, or one of her five pets at home. She is warm. Her basic needs are met. She has plenty of toys and cute clothing, along with grandparents who constantly want to spoil her more. I am not home with her all day. I do not spend time on the weekends prepping her daycare meals for the week (to be honest though, she’s been eating solid food like a champ since 6 months old) and sometimes she will get packaged foods as a snack. She does not have a fancy Pikler Triangle or The Nugget couch. You know what she does have though? A mom who simply adores her. A mom who holds her when she’s sick. A mom who, at 14 months postpartum, still cannot believe she is real. A mom who wants the best for her and has dreams for her future. A mom who wants to give her the world.

I am not the mom I thought I’d be, but I think I’m a pretty good one.

The Arrival of the Little One

When I wrote my most recent post saying I couldn’t believe I would hit 37 weeks pregnant the next day, little did I know my daughter would be born that day. Needless to say, Wednesday, September 18, 2019, is a day that is both a blur and wonderfully memorable at the same time.

Anastasía Marie Smith, 5 lbs, 5.4 oz, 17″ long, 9:01PM

The day started out like every other, with the only difference being we had an appointment to meet a pediatrician at 8:30am. Thank goodness we did because one was needed before we could bring her home from the hospital three days later! Matt went to work after the appointment and after running some errands, I came home to relax. Matt got home early (a rarity for sure) and within 20 minutes of him being home, my water broke on its own. Needless to say, I freaked out. The hospital bags were packed, a friend was called to check on the pups, and off to Labor and Delivery we went. Within minutes, I was getting an ultrasound to determine baby’s position, which was, no surprise to me, breech. After a second ultrasound was done to confirm she was breech, the preparation for a scheduled c-section began. I honestly don’t remember much after the ultrasound, except that I met with an anesthesiologist, the OBGYN who would be delivering her, and nurses to get all my IV’s hooked up. At 8:30pm, I was wheeled to the operating room for my spinal tap and then everything began. Little one was born at 9:01pm healthy with a strong set of lungs and a firm grip on whatever she grabbed. Matt was able to watch the nurses clean her up and then held her until I was able to hold her while in recovery. Most of that first hour after her birth was spent mesmerized at this little life in front of us and soaking it all in.

I wish I could say I remember a great deal of the three days we spent in the hospital, but I honestly was so exhausted that bits and pieces come and go. We had visitors who showered us and Ana with love and well-wishes. The nurses were wonderful and took great care of us during our time there. Matt made sure to spend time with us and take charge when I couldn’t, and still went home every day to make sure our precious pups got their daily walk. We are beyond blessed to have him in our lives.

I will likely write more at a later time, but for now, I’m going to enjoy a hot shower (taking advantage of being able to do so while my mom is in town!) and rest. The first week at home with Ana hasn’t been easy, but we are learning together.

Family walk on our first day home.

The Home Stretch!

It is hard to believe I will hit the 37 week pregnancy mark TOMORROW. Little one isn’t quite considered full-term medically, but this mama is considering it to be. Between the swelling in feet and ankles, on and off-again Braxton Hicks, constant feeling of heaviness, and extra time needed to perform even the simplest task, I am ready to evict this rent-free tenant.

Lots has happened since my last post. In fact, so much has happened that I’ve quit one job, found another, and little one will start at an incredible daycare in the new year: All that needs its own post. I feel so fortunate to have things to look forward to in January, but I must make it through the rest of this chapter first. This pregnancy -although not expected in 2019- has been an interesting and wild ride. I feel fortunate to have had a healthy pregnancy, but it has also consisted of numerous time-consuming doctor appointments with both the regular OBGYN and Perinatal Specialist due to IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction). Basically, little one has been measuring consistently two weeks behind the “typical” growth and has been constantly monitored. I blame it on genetics and my husband and I both being only 6# babies at birth, and while the specialist agrees, she legally can’t say nothing is wrong. Feeling her movement (hello 6AM wakeup call and inability to sleep at 10PM) will be the thing I miss the most about pregnancy. The hiccups get me every time too. I am so looking forward to seeing what she looks like because despite 20+ ultrasounds, the following picture is the best we’ve been able to get.

She is still very much breech, which concerns me because I have my heart set on a vaginal birth. I know the important thing is ultimately a healthy baby and delivery and if a C-Section is what it takes to have my daughter, I will do it, but I have worked so hard to stay healthy and try to have the birth I’ve envisioned. There is still time for her to flip though, so we’ll see how things look at my next growth check in a week and a half. Also, induced or not, I know getting her earthside in a healthy and appropriate way for both of us is the ultimate goal.

Sunflower fields with the little babe (35 weeks)
Just a glimpse of her upcoming world
Can’t wait for her to experience life with her siblings and share her dad’s and my love of reading

We are ready for you, little one. You are loved by so many who can’t wait to meet you.

Not a Goodbye, but an I’ll See You Soon

Sometimes people are put in your lives when you least expect it, and while the timing may not always be ideal or long enough, it ends up being exactly what you need. That’s how my husband and I feel while mourning the recent loss of a close friend. We met in November 2018 at church -a small church that we both kind of fell into- and the friendship connection was instant. She and her husband were in Ohio for military purposes: We are here for residency. Both of us have followed our spouses as they worked on their career goals and knew what it was like to sacrifice for them. We both have rescue pups whom we absolutely adore. We both love goofy memes and inside jokes. It seriously was one of the friendships that you didn’t realize was needed until you have it.

Kara was a dialysis patient due to years of having Lupus, an autoimmune condition that is chronic, affects any part of the body at anytime, and can be debilitating in many ways. Due to the Lupus and the way it hit her body, Kara’s kidneys were affected, resulting in two failed transplants and 12 years of dialysis. She had more health issues and things go on than I am even aware of since we were only in each other’s lives for 8 months, but I was in her life at the end and can say for a fact that Lupus is terribly misunderstood and its effects devastating.

My mother has Lupus, so I could be there for her in a way that people who are not familiar with it may not have been able to. My husband is a Medical Resident, so he understood the medical side of her conditions. It really did seem like fate when we met. While our friendship was not long enough, the closeness between the four of us will never leave our minds and we’ll treasure it forever.

With details too deep to write about, I will conclude it here: Chronic diseases suck. Goodbyes are hard. Grief is real. No one can truly prepare you for what to expect with either of them or prepare you for the harsh reality that a misunderstood confusing disease can take your life. The peace of knowing her longtime suffering is over is what is keeping us together and allowing us to go on right now. Life will go on because it always does. While time will heal these wounds and a new normal will begin, she is and will always be missed.

If you want to learn more about Lupus, here is the site for the Lupus Foundation of America: https://www.lupus.org/. I highly encourage you to look at it and learn more about its ugly effects.

Love you forever friend.