Friday, January 22, 2016

Writing with Purpose.

When I was a student, both early on and throughout college, I dreamed of being a writer.  I used to spend weekends writing short stories for my mom to read, and she always told me I was a great writer, to keep it up.  Her praise was knocked down by mediocre reviews by college professors and rejection letters from magazines I approached with my short stories from my writing classes.  Looking back, the thing I am certain was missing from my writing was purpose.  I wrote just to write, but not to really tell a story or to inspire a feeling or make a change in even one person.  When I think about my favorite authors, all of their stories make me feel something - a longing for an adventure, a need for romance or to travel, a desire to move or make a change in my life, a desperation I never knew I had.  I want my written word to do the same, even if only for one person.

I need to create.  I need to make something during my short time on this earth, not with my body, but with my mind and my hands.  My proudest "creation" to date is my son.  I believe that raising my son to be an honest, hard working, contributing member of society could result in the change I am hoping to make on the world in my time here, but I also want to change someone's life.  And I mean in an inspirational, motivational, hopeful way.  I believe I have caused some positive change in the lives of at least some people who I have met and mentored during my time in Junior League.  But I do not want to stop there.  And I should not have to.  I will not.  So, my first step in reaching my goal of touching at least ONE life with my written word is to think of topics or issues with a purpose.  So that is what I am going to do.  One day at a time.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave: Mom Guilt

After a blissful four months off work after Liam was born, I went back to work on Monday.  I was off for a month before he was born due to my pregnancy being considered high risk because of my preexisting high blood pressure.  Since high school I had never gone that long without working, and I was just getting into the groove of being a stay at home mom and wife.  AND, the worst part is leaving my four month old when he is just starting to become so much more active and developing such a funny little personality.  But, alas, being an attorney, all of my years and years of schooling, taking and passing the California Bar Exam, and just plain financial necessity for our family, it was time to go back to work.  Sadly, I am one of the lucky new moms who was able to take a whole month longer than the twelve weeks, or less, that other American moms get, and for some, that time is wholly unpaid leave.  I was pretty frugal during my time off, and was able to stretch it out longer by making some smart money decisions, and because of my blood pressure, my doctor gave me longer than the standard six weeks of disability. 

Newborn Photos

During my maternity leave, the first month or so was just so hectic and sleep deprivation ruled our house.  I was just figuring out how to get my little man to sleep, eat, how to relieve his gas and what to actually do with him when he was not sleeping or eating.  We got into a groove, and our days ended up being full of cuddling, long walks, tummy time, back porch sitting, baby wearing, reading books, watching television while snuggling together and nursing, and trying to leave the house at least a few times a week.  I was so worried about letting him cry that I would often not use the restroom or do anything for myself at all unless I was certain he was asleep.  I just wanted to make sure he felt safe and secure and knew I was there for him.  Because of my [Type A, overbearing] personality, I had only been away from Liam for 1-2 hours at a time, and only two or three times total since he was born.  I just hated leaving him. 

One of many sweet naps on my chest.

Baby blues.


Growth from 1-2 months.


When I was pregnant it was an absolute that I would be returning to work.  But after having Liam, and as the weeks literally sped by, each passing week flying by faster than the last, I would start to cry any time I even began to think about having to leave him. Financially, I have to work to help support our family.  Chad and I are both attorneys, and we both have student loan debt, as well as other debt that we are working on paying off.  Without my income, we just could not make it work.  We experienced life with only one income right after we bought and moved into our home, when Chad was laid off due to his boss's inability to manage his law firm and pay his employees, and that lasted six long months.  It was stressful and a huge strain on our relationship.  So I knew that even though I want to stay home, right now it just is not feasible.  So, back to work I have gone.  

I spent a lot of time my last week home crying.  Chad took my last two days of leave off work, so we could spend time together as a family, and part of me was upset that he was impeding on my last two days alone with our boy.  But really, I was so happy that he thought of us, and wanted to spend time with us.  The best thing about my husband is that he genuinely wants to be home with Liam and me, and he was sad when he went back to work after we had him.  He does not have much experience with babies, so I have kind of taken over, since I was exclusively breast feeding until I started having to pump at work, and I have been the only one to get up at night with him (again, breast feeding), but if he could do those things, or I should say, if I let him, he would do those things that he is able to.

Liam is going to daycare full time at a pretty awesome place.  He is in the infant room with eight infants right now, and a maximum of 12.  There is a 4:1 ratio, although there is usually a 3:1 ratio of children to caregivers.  He is currently the youngest along with one other little boy who was born on the exact same day.  I have gone three days out of the last four to nurse him on my lunch break, which is also a bonus.  His daycare is pretty much mid-distance between work and home, and it only takes me about seven minutes to get there, both from home and work.  I love being so close, in case there is a problem, and it makes it so easy to head over during lunch. 

First day at Daycare.

Napped in his crib.

He looks so tired, but he played all day long!

Before starting daycare, Liam was not a fan of bottles.  He had only taken a bottle completely twice before I dropped him off on Monday.  Mom guilt was in full swing.  The "I should haves" and "Why didn't Is" were flying around in my head, and I just knew my son was going to starve, cry the whole time, refuse to nap, and be a bundle of fussiness when I picked him up after work.  When I got to his daycare at lunch that first day, one provider, Ms. Jamie, told me that he had refused his morning bottle, but he had taken two naps, and he was actually sleeping when I got there.  I hated to wake him up, but it was great to see him recognize me and nurse, since he was a starving little guy.  It was so hard to leave him after I nursed him, but I could tell he was in good hands based on all the other sweet babies in the room, who were almost all taking naps, being fed, or being rocked to sleep in their cribs.  When I picked him up that afternoon, I learned he took his afternoon bottle, reluctantly.  But, it was a start. 

On Tuesday he had no trouble at all, and took multiple naps, ate his morning and afternoon bottle, and was grinning at his providers as I picked him up to head home for the day.  Wednesday I missed nursing him at lunch to go to my office's Administrative Professional's Day lunch, and although I had to call to check on him twice, I felt good about where he was and who he was with, so I was able to enjoy myself at lunch. 

He woke up last night very congested, and I am pretty sure he has his first daycare cold.  I feel so helpless when he is snotty and sneezy and unable to blow his own nose.  The NoseFrida is my go to snot sucker.  It is not as gross as it seems, as long as I do not think about the actual boogers being sucked up and as long as I don't watch them. 

Tomorrow will complete Liam's (and my) first week of daycare.  We have his four month pediatrician appointment and shots tomorrow afternoon, so it will only be a six hour separation rather than eight (yay!), but I know he will be fussy and not feel well after getting shots.  I am thankful I will have the weekend with him to comfort him, especially since he is fighting his first real cold.  (He did have a weird respiratory infection of some sort when he was only about a month old, where he sounded really raspy, and his doctor said he could hear it in his lungs.  He had to have a nebulizer treatment and an inhaler, but that went away without any complications.  He also never had a fever, which we are so thankful for!)

It is 4:00 on Thursday, and I cannot wait to pick my boy up in an hour.  Working from 8-5 is hard, especially now that we are establishing a completely new routine from our leisurely days during maternity leave.  My current schedule, at least this week, has been getting up at 5:45 a.m., showering while Liam still sleeps, and if he wakes up, Chad watches him while I do my hair, make-up and get dressed.  The night before, I have been getting all bottles together as well as my pumping equipment, which requires hand washing each night, picking out clothes for the next day for Liam and myself.  After I get my hair and make-up done, I eat and then nurse Liam, get dressed, and we head out.  Chad gets ready for work after Liam and I leave.  I am pretty drained today, and hoping that after a couple weeks this schedule will become easier and we will figure out how to have more time together as a family in the evenings.  Another issue I am facing right now is transitioning Liam into his crib.  When he had his respiratory infection at a month or so of age, we took him out of his crib and let him sleep with us, so I could monitor his breathing.  Since then, he has slept with us, right next to me.  I know a lot of people are against co-sleeping, but we follow the strictest guidelines for co-sleeping safety, and I am a VERY light sleeper, so any little sound wakes me up - making me much more comfortable with him in our bed.  Now that I am getting up early though, and with the location of our bathroom right next to my side of the bed, it is too difficult to keep Liam asleep in the morning.  So, after he is used to daycare, the next big change for him is going to be the sleeping arrangement.  Stay posted for how that transition goes.

I hope everyone has a great Friday.  This post is a novel, so I am going to end it here!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Liam's Birth Story - December 19, 2014

Liam's birth story is nothing crazy or scary or graphic, but it was a long couple of days for his daddy and me, and a lot of pushing, exhaustion, tears, cussing, and joy. I am primarily writing it down so I can share it with him later if he ever wants to know how he was brought into this world.  He really is my pride and joy, and although in the moment the pain was unbearable and I did not think I could survive it, I will gladly do it again to give him a precious sibling one of these days!

It began on a Thursday... And on Friday, December 19, he was in my arms!

On December 18, 2014, I had a doctor's appointment, as I was having twice weekly NSTs and once weekly ultrasounds to check the amniotic fluid, all due to my preexisting high blood pressure.  It was great to get to hear our boy's heart beat so often, but very time consuming to have to go to the doctor so frequently.  This particular morning, when the nurse checked my blood pressure, it was too high for being 38 weeks pregnant, 143/92.  It had been staying that high for a few days, and this was after they increased my blood pressure medicine two weeks prior.  I had been on maternity leave since the day before Thanksgiving, and even the reduced stress from not being at work was not helping to control my blood pressure this late into my pregnancy.  So, that morning, after the non stress test, my nurse practitioner came in and told me that I needed to head to Clovis Community Medical Center, the hospital where Liam would be delivered.  Chad was in court an hour away that morning, and when I called him, he was still in his hearing and did not answer, so I called my mom in tears, terrified of going to the hospital alone and worried about my baby and whether they would be inducing me, forcing a C-section, or if it was nothing to worry about, and I was just making my blood pressure worse.  I was supposed to head to a Junior League event at a local elementary school, so I called my friend in League and told her I would not be attending.  It was about 9:30 a.m. when I started heading to the hospital.  I called my dad and told him what was going on, and Chad finally called me back.  He said he had to head to his office first, but that he would meet me at the hospital.

After I parked my car, I tried to deep breathe and calm myself down before heading into the downstairs registration area.  I gave them my name and the reason I was there, and they had me sit in the waiting area before I could be signed in.  When the registrar called me over, they saw I had already pre-registered, so they printed my hospital identification bands, asked if I needed a wheel chair, and sent me in to the maternity pre-labor area.  I was one of two women being monitored.  They put me in my "room", divided by a curtain, and had me undress and put on a robe.  I was hooked up to a blood pressure cuff and a fetal heart rate monitor.  They were concerned about preeclampsia, which I did not have, so they insisted on checking my urine for protein, and although that came back clear, they then wanted to test the urine straight from the source, so I had to have a catheter inserted.  They drew some blood and continued to monitor me until my doctor was finished with a C-section she was performing and was able to come check on me. 

Because my blood pressure remained elevated, they gave me an IV and started to give me doses of my blood pressure medicine intravenously.  While I was laying there, I was contracting consistently, every minute.  I could not feel the contractions yet, but the monitor was picking it up. 

After what seemed like ages, Chad arrived, and my doctor came in to discuss our options.  I was to be admitted, and I could elect for a C-section right then, or I could be induced, as I had not dilated or effaced at all at this point.  Because I really wanted a natural birth, I decided to go the induction route.  They were going to try to break my water to speed things up, but because I was not yet dilated or effaced, they decided to go with Cervadil.  Around noon I was finally admitted, and we were taken to the room we thought we would be having our son in.  There was still a lot of waiting, and Chad ended up heading home for a while to play with our dogs and pick up around the house. 

We eventually had to switch rooms because the room we were put in (which had amazingly huge windows), needed some maintenance of some form, so we were moved into room 1113, which I loved, because I am obsessed with odd numbers.

Once we were put in our room, my L&D nurse came in and inserted the Cervadil around 2:30 p.m.(not fun at all).  It is basically a tampon with hormones on it that are supposed to soften the cervix and speed up dilation.  It has to stay in for 12 hours, and they want you to lay still for the first couple hours so the medicine can stay in contact with the cervix.  So I lay in bed and watched Food Network while starving, since I had only had a banana and yogurt that morning. 

I got to order dinner from the hospital kitchen, and I had a steak quesadilla, salad and French fries for my last meal before becoming a mom. 

Chad returned and we just hung out in our room, waiting.  I was starting to get crampy and uncomfortable while the Cervadil was working.  I have to say that I had thee best labor and delivery nurses during my two days of labor.  Except one.  Elvira.  She was not the best.  But she also had the overnight shift, so I understand her poor mood and bad bedside manner, to an extent.

Chad and I passed the time watching TV, trying to rest, and he was reading a book for a while.  I was scared and uncomfortable, and just counting down the minutes and hours until the Cervadil could be removed and I could see if I had progressed.  I did not want to be induced with Pitocin because I was hoping for a drug free labor. 

Around 1:00, before they removed the Cervadil, I felt something wet, and called my nurse in, thinking my water had broken.  She came in and told me she thought I probably had just peed.  I had just gone to the bathroom though, so I knew that was not the case.  About ten minutes later, I felt a gush of more fluid, and called her back in.  I told her that I was certain my water had broken.  My contractions were getting stronger and I was just uncomfortable.  Finally at 2:30 a.m. a new nurse came in and removed the Cervadil, and checked me.  I had dilated to a 2 and was completely effaced.  At that point, the contractions were getting unbearable and I was unable to get comfortable.  I was contracting every minute to three minutes without any relief in between contractions.  My blood pressure cuff was inflating every ten minutes to check my blood pressure and every time it would inflate and my blood pressure would be high, the machine would beep continuously until someone pushed the button to turn it off.  Chad was trying to sleep but I was in so much pain, I just could not rest.  I had the Hallmark channel on and was trying to watch one of their made for TV Christmas movies, which usually can distract me from discomfort, but this was different.  Around 3:30 a.m., I got an injection of some pain medication, which gave me about 20 minutes of relief and made me hallucinate people coming into my room and the bathroom door opening and closing.  After that finally wore off, I called my nurse and begged for an epidural around 4:30 a.m..  She called the anesthesiologist and checked me, and I had dilated to a 6.  By the time the anesthesiologist arrived, I was writhing in pain, unable to lay still.  I was having major back labor and felt like someone was hitting my stomach with a sledge hammer while punching me in the back.  It was nearly impossible to sit still for the epidural, but I told myself that as soon as the medicine started flowing I would get some relief.  I was not worried about the epidural at all at that point.  I felt relief almost instantaneously, but I also started to shiver uncontrollably.  They had to put a catheter in, and I was able to get about an hour of sleep, although I could still feel the contractions.

Around 7:00 a.m., I started to feel a lot of pressure, and called my nurse in.  She checked me and I was fully dilated. They wanted me to practice pushing to see if I would make any progress, so the nurse removed the catheter and I tried a few pushes, but the baby was not reacting well.  The nurse checked him, and realized he was facing the wrong way, so they decided I would wait a while to see if he would turn on his own.  They had me get on all fours to try to turn him.  My legs felt so heavy from the epidural, but I felt some relief being off my back.  My mom and sister arrived and came in to check on me - while I was on all fours.  My mom snapped some really unattractive photos of me at this point.  Thanks, Mom! 

At 9:00 a.m. they decided I was ready to push.  I pushed on my back, on my right side, and on my left side.  I pushed using a squat bar and I pushed on all fours.  After over three hours of pushing, he was making progress, but after each push he would move back up.  My doctor arrived, as well as the on call doctor.  She told me I had 15 minutes to push him out, or they would try to vacuum extract him twice, and if that did not work, I would have to have a C-section.  I did not want either, so I said I would get my boy out!  I ended up having an episiotomy, and with my doctor stretching me out while I pushed as hard as I could manage after over three hours of pushing, on one hour of sleep, I was able to push my boy out at 12:27 p.m. without any further intervention.  It turns out the umbilical cord was short and was wrapped around one of his arms, so after every push, it pulled him back up. 

When William "Liam" Aedan Snyder entered the world on Friday, December 19, 2014, he made the most adorable, almost bird like cry, and I began to sob tears of joy, and kept saying "oh my gosh, oh my gosh."  I have never felt so much pride and joy and love as I did the first time I saw him.  They put him on my stomach right away and he was so tiny and perfect.  He started making his way up, but they had to cut the umbilical cord and then wipe him up, weight and measure him and wrap him.  When they handed him back to me, it was true love!  He weighed 5 lbs., 14.5 oz., and was 20 inches long.  His Apgar was a 9 at one minute and again at five minutes.  He suckled right away and opened his eyes to look around.

One of my favorite parts of his birth story is that I predicted his birthday months before he was due.  His due date was December 29, 2014.  In October I was at a doctor's appointment with Dr. Kopacz, my OB-GYN, and I told her that I was pretty sure he would arrive on December 19.  I just had a gut feeling that day.  While Dr. Kopacz was sewing me up after delivery, I asked her if she recalled that day, and she did.  She said a mother's intuition should always be trusted, and I completely agree!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Pregnancy Pictorial Story

14 Weeks

15 Weeks outtake

It's a Boy!

1st Day of Maternity Leave!

The next day, I was admitted to the hospital!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

21 Weeks!

How Far Along: 21 weeks!  

Size of Baby: A pomegranate, a banana, or bok choy, depending on the app!  Approximately 10.5 inches and 12.7 ounces.

Maternity Clothes: Yes.  Just ordered some from Destination Maternity.
Stretch Marks: None yet.  Already using coconut oil twice a day.  Up about 8-9 pounds so far, and hoping to keep the gain slow and steady.
Sleep: Very uncomfortable but the Snoogle pillow helps a little bit.  Hopefully the arrival of our brand new bedroom set this weekend will also help!

Best Moment of the Week/Past Month:  Finding out baby's gender and having my 20 week ultrasound and getting to see the baby wiggle around for a while.
Movement:  Lots of kicks and somersaults, and can even see some of them outside my tummy.  Chad seeing the movement has been a huge highlight as well!
Cravings: None, really, but still love fruit, fruit and more fruit.
Gender: A precious baby BOY!
Anything Making You Queasy or Sick: Not in quite a while, thankfully!
What I Miss: Wine and having the endurance to workout hard.  Also missing sushi and sleeping through the night without incident.
What I am Looking Forward to: My bump continuing to grow and getting closer to meeting our little man.

Nursery: We are working on it.  It is a sailboat theme - walls are a pale yellow, furniture is an antique white and we have an Annie Sloan Provence Chalk Painted crib.  Bedding is navy and white and we just ordered the cutest blanket and mobile from Pottery Barn.  I'm working on some DIY artwork, too.  Love personal touches!
Emotions: Pretty much exuberant, joyous, happy, excited, and a little mix of anxious and nervous - especially as we get closer to baby's birthday! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dear Baby...

Although I am only 10.5 weeks along, I could not wait any longer to tell friends and family about you and your upcoming arrival!  I am overjoyed to have you growing inside me, and I cannot wait for the day I get to feel you move and kick.  I cannot wait to hear your heartbeat and see your sweet face and know that you are really there.  The fatigue and nausea are there, which make me feel more confident that you truly are growing inside me, but without seeing you or hearing your heartbeat, I fear the worst always.  Every little cramp or strange feeling sends me into a panic, but then I stop, breathe deeply and try to relax - I do not want to cause you any stress, sweet babe. 

You are due December 29, 2014 - and I apologize now if you have to share your special day with Christmas or New Years, but know that Christmas is my favorite time of year, and you are going to be the best gift I've ever received! 

I love you so much already, my little love bean, and I know your daddy loves you just as much.  It warms my heart when he rests his hand on my very small, only noticeable to me baby bump, and when he asks me how I am feeling.  He has been so helpful with changing the cat box for me, and helping more with cooking and cleaning, and doing lots of yard work to make sure our home is ready for your arrival.  I feel so blessed and lucky - even when I am not feeling well physically and when my moodiness is almost too much to bear - I just thank God for your life and for blessing me with the opportunity to be your mama. 

How Far Along: 10.5 weeks!  

Size of Baby: A sweet kumquat!  About 1.25 inches long.

Maternity Clothes: Not yet, but I did just get a belly band for my jeans, which are getting a little uncomfortable when buttoned!
Stretch Marks: None yet.  Already using coconut oil twice a day.  I'm only up about a pound, so hopefully a gradual gain will prevent them.
Sleep: Up often to pee and with the doggies who are restless at night, but dreams have been vivid and strange.

Best Moment of the Week/Past Month:  Looking forward to Friday's first ultrasound!  And the excitement from all of my co-workers, friends and family when I told them my news!
Movement:  None for several more weeks.  :(
Cravings: Fruit, fruit and more fruit.
Gender: Won't know for a while, but we will be finding out.
Anything Making You Queasy or Sick: Going more than 2 hours without food.  The Bath and Body Works candles I just bought a few months ago, and any fragrances in the home.  Lavender Chamomile lotion I just got, too.
What I Miss: Wine and having the endurance to workout hard.  The exhaustion makes working out difficult and I am beat by the middle of Jillian Michaels, and I wimped out on Zumba, since that tired me out before baby!

What I am Looking Forward to: Seeing baby in the ultrasound and hearing baby's heartbeat!

Nursery: Planning in my mind what I want, but it will all depend on baby's gender!

Emotions: Happy, sad, joyous, angry, excited, scared, worried, is a mish mash of hormones over here.  Lots of tears, both happy and sad ones!