Monday, September 30, 2013

Good Baby/Bad Baby

"So... Is he a good baby?"

I get this question often. What do people expect me to say? 

Good is such a relative term. Bad is too. 

Gabe is many things: He's great. He's challenging. He's unpredictable. He's sweet. 

.... not sure how to answer the original question. All I know is that he's ours.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

They call them "Mommy Wars"...

Even before I had a baby, people were so inquisitive about what my life was like working from home. To be honest, before I started to work remotely, I too didn't quite see the reality of what working comprised.

Are you picturing pajamas and coffee, TV remote in hand? I did too. Before.

I work for The Network of International Christian Schools, specifically NorthStar Academy. I teach several courses to middle and high school students in the content areas of Social Studies and English. Writing courses, grading papers/assessments, and communicating with students via email and Skype comprises about 50% of my job.

The other 50% is spent on administrative tasks; I wear multiple hats in this category, so even writing down specific work tasks would take some time.

The bottom line is that I DO work. I DO have a job to do. I just do it at HOME. 

(FYI: I do get to work in sweats and PJs, however, from the top up, I must look presentable; I never know when I will have to Skype with my bosses, parents, students etc.)

Sometimes I LOVE the fact that my workplace is my couch, or my office upstairs, or my family room floor. It is great to be able to touch base with students, parents, and co-workers anywhere, anytime. Further, the invention of the smart phone has meant that I can literally work in a bathroom stall at Target, if I needed to (not saying this has happened...).

That same blessing (working anytime, anywhere) is also the greatest curse. I find it really hard to SHUT OFF work. I don't leave a physical building and return the next day. I feel a constant pressure to keep up with emails; I know they will just keep accumulating if I don't get to them as they come in! I don't want to make fellow teachers, parents, or students wait for my replies. Further, I have to figure out issues of time zones--- I speak to parents/students and interview teachers from all over the globe! It IS really cool, but also can be stressful trying to fit in and figure out how to connect to those who need my time.

Oh yeah... and I JUST HAD A BABY.

Throw Gabe into the above mix, and working from home becomes a full fledged circus!

Diaper changes, breastfeeding, and all things baby care are scattered throughout the day. Last week I went from feeding Gabe to interviewing a teacher candidate in Belgium (all the while PRAYING that Gabe would stay asleep through the conclusion of the interview). Grading student essays, speaking on the phone with a parents, and conference calls are daily occurances too.  Such calls are hard to schedule right now because the baby is on his own schedule; so far, I have had three meetings scheduled and have had to secretly breastfeed him and pray his burps and slurps were not audible to the people with whom I spoke...  Yes! Working from home is a breeze!

HOWEVER, I am totally blessed to have the job I have; I do love it! I am so lucky to be able to stay home and be with Gabe all day and not leave him with anyone else. I am trying to soak up these early days of motherhood all the while trying to stay on top of things with work. I am so lucky to be able to keep a foot in the world of education, challenging myself to keep up with all of the latest technology, continually getting the opportunity to teach kids all over the world.

But here's the thing: What is my label?

There are two, apparently rigid and opinionated MOTHERING CAMPS I am now straddling: Stay-at-home moms vs. Working moms. Which one am I? 

I want to be good at my job. I want to do it well. At the same time, I want to soak up every minute with Gabe that I can. I do affirm that parenting is my number one calling right now. Regardless, it is difficult to balance both worlds.

I can see how both "sides" feel; stay at home moms don't feel validated and working moms feel judged. BOTH camps are doing really great things and are, in their own ways, remarkable.

It's sad; instead of being a united front of MOMS, we are divided into camps. This motherhood thing is tough enough without the labels and division. Seriously. Take a step back and breathe, relish that MOTHERHOOD is the unifying factor here. I waited a long time to be in the motherhood camp at all, so let's stop and smell the roses (or diapers) here for a bit, okay?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

God and Breastfeeding... What?!?

I never thought I would be relying on God so much with regard to my ability to breastfeed Gabe. Even as I type the words "breastfeed" and "God" in the same sentence, I am feeling funny! This post might seem a bit strange, but like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of my breast-filled life!

Gabe is over a month old and has been eating like a champ; very minimal issues in the food department. So minimal in fact, that we introduced a pacifier and were giving him a bottle (to give me a break) once daily.

It's funny--- I get so excited when he demonstrates any kind of a pattern or routine. Oh, how I crave routine! Until last night, we were cruising right along in the breastfeeding department. I recall thinking, Seriously! This is no big deal. It is time consuming, but pretty effortless.

And then, last night happened.

Let me set the stage: I went to a friend's house yesterday afternoon. Instead of whipping out my chest to feed Gabe, I had pumped prior and had a bottle to give him while she and I visited. We came home and Chris's parents stopped by to see Gabe. Right as they walked in, he started crying because he was hungry (I think they have a radar and know when is the most inopportune time to "pop" in). Instead of strangely sitting and trying to entertain them whilst breastfeeding, I ran upstairs, pumped quickly, and gave Chris's mom the chance to bottle feed Gabe (which she loved). For those of you who are counting, that is two bottle feedings in a row.

Two hours later, the kid is hungry again. Chris's family is still here (shocker). Chris's sister wants to feed the baby. So, I pump and give her the bottle. (#3).

Finally, around 9:30, they leave. I take Gabe up to feed him before bed and he totally REJECTS me. He refuses to eat, starts freaking out, turning red, and proceeds to scream at the top of his lungs. It was like he forgot how to latch on to my breast.

After about thirty minutes of this, I decide I am going to put him in his crib so I can Google the problem. (Thank heaven for Google!)

Apparently, some babies start to prefer the bottle because the milk comes out faster and it is easier for them to eat. So Gabe= a lazy chunker who likes his meals easy-style!

I kept thinking, he has to remember how to breastfeed. Seriously. He has been doing it for the past six weeks! Does he not know that if he simply latched on, he would be able to eat. Duh.

The most frustrating part was there was NOTHING I could do to get him to eat. I wanted so badly just to give him a bottle and be done with it. I knew he would take a bottle. However, I just didn't think I was ready (or Gabe for that matter) to give up on breastfeeding so soon.

When you have not slept in what seems like days, you begin to talk out loud to anyone, anyone who, at 2 AM can hear you. In my case, it was Gabe and God.

Please God. Help him. Help me. I can't do this. Why is this so hard!?

Who knew I'd be shooting up prayers for breastfeeding help! But, alas, He tells us to cast our cares upon Him; feeding my new baby was on the top of my "care list".

So, 48 hours and many frustrated feedings later, we are back on track. No bottles for us for a while!

I'm thankful for a Father who doesn't abandon me (or Gabe ) in our hour(s) of need--- even if breastfeeding is the need atop our list.

Switching Gears

Since having the baby, I've still been thinking and praying for many friends who are still riding the infertility train. I am in this weird, in-between place right now: I'm off the train, but I've been permanently changed by the ride. So much so, that it affects where I'm going.

I am thrilled with the birth of Gabe, but my heart still remembers and aches for those struggling to establish a family. So, it begs the question, where is this blog going? Is it still a blog/resource for infertile couples? Is it still a dialogue about marriage and faith? Yes. It is all of those things, as well as now, a discourse on parenting and all things baby.

It's a hodgepodge of topics related to how I'm growing and learning in my life now. If I can be helpful, that's great. If not, I am sure I can make you laugh now and then:)