Monday, December 30, 2013

I Don't Know How She Does It

I have a friend that wakes up at 4 am every single morning to write or wok on his freelance projects.

I used to think he was CRAZY! I couldn't ever imagine getting up that early and functioning well enough to brush my teeth - let alone write or work!

And then I had Cooper!

The most beautiful baby.
Yes, I'm biased, but those eyes just melt my heart.

Boy how things change after having kiddos. I love him with all my heart, but let me tell you...4 am feels like sleeping in these days!

Baby Cooper sleeping and holding my hand.
He was only A WEEK old in this picture.
Slow down, time.

I've actually been up since 3 am today. Cooper woke up and needed feed and changed. He quickly fell back asleep, but the distraction of Justin and Cooper snoring kept me awake. Fine, I won't let them take ALL the blame. I was also making the list.

I first learned about the concept of "making the list" when I watched a movie with Sarah Jessica Parker called, "I Don't Know How She Does It." Sarah played an incredibly busy working mother, who loved her kids dearly, but also loved her career!

Coop watching me get ready for work this morning.

Even before I had Cooper, I imagined my life would be very similar to Sarah's in the movie. When she should be sleeping at night, she found herself making a mental list and check-list of "to-do" items.

And that's exactly what I did from 3:30 am to 4:30 am today.

  • You need to pack diapers. Lora said you're almost out. Don't forget extra clothes, teething supplies, formula, and wipes too!
  • The new dishwasher is getting installed this morning! You'll need to unload it before you go to work - Justin might forget or not wake up in time!
  • Did you submit your blog post ideas for the upcoming Jada Beauty blogging schedule? Don't forget to do that by Tuesday!
  • Remember to take out the mini wieners from the freezer and put them in the fridge. And remember to tell Justin that he's responsible for little pigs in a blanket for the New Year's Eve party tomorrow.
  • Do you have your dress for the New Year's Eve party yet? It's a Mad Men Theme...what do Mad Men even wear? I need to look this show up on Netflix.
  • Don't forget to grab the clothes that you need to take back to Old Navy on your lunch break.
  • Speaking of lunch, don't forget to grab your lunch in the morning and pack the grapes and banana. 
  • No waiting until the New Year to start eating healthy. You destroyed all healthy eating over the holiday when you ate a pound of bacon for Christmas brunch the other day. Try not to eat a pound of mini wieners tomorrow.
  • DANG IT - I don't have any clean leggings. 
  • Looks like I'll be wearing jeans today. Let's hope I have a clean vest so I can cover up my muffin top.
  • I need to get back to the gym. Put that on your list of things to do tonight.
  • I wonder what Cooper is dreaming about...Oh, I just love him so much. 
  • You should probably just get up and shower. There is no way you're getting back to sleep.
And that's my life these days.

Being a working mom is a lot harder than I ever anticipated. 

The first challenge is simply missing Cooper and fighting off the mom guilt that's associated with working. I know I'm doing what's best for our family right now, but there are just some days when I would love nothing more than to be at home with Coop.

The best part of my day.

The second challenge is battling the physical and mental exhaustion. By the time I get home from work, I'm ready to go to bed. I am NOT complaining. I realize all new moms feel this way. But I somehow need to find time to:
  • Eat dinner
  • Walk Bandit 
  • Feed Cooper
  • Change Cooper
  • Give Cooper a bath
  • Read to Cooper
  • Go to the gym
  • Write (personal or freelance via Jada Beauty)
  • Do dishes
  • Do laundry
  • Do more dishes
  • Feed Cooper
  • Change Cooper
  • Pack my lunch
  • Shower 
  • Sleep??
  • Feed Cooper
  • Change Cooper
  • .......
And more often than not, I don't end up doing all of those things because I'd rather snuggle with Cooper than put him in the YMCA daycare so I can workout. I've been trying to workout on my lunch break to help with my evening time management though!

Some days, I don't know how I get through the day. 

Literally, I have no mental recollection of the day.

But I do.

I make it.

I might not have make-up on. I'm probably wearing leggings. There is a STRONG chance I left something at home. And my hair is probably a mess (if I had time to shower). But I get through the day...

Just don't be upset if I don't respond to your text messages right away.

Don't be mad when I don't answer my phone - I only have two hands and I can't talk on the phone when I'm talking to Coop. I promise I'll call you back when I have a free second!

And please do send me a reminder email if I've forgotten to reply to your first email or simply forgot something you asked me to do in person.

And while my life is crazy and hectic at times, there isn't much I would (or could) change. I'm so incredibly happy to have Cooper. He lights up my world. He gives me meaning and purpose.

Love captured in a single moment of time.

I love Cooper more than anything in this world- he's inspired new goals and reminds me to be the happiest mom possible.

He's the happiest babes in the world.
He keeps me balanced and reminds me to focus on what TRULY matters...not trivial, silly issues or drama. And I know that working helps us save for the future and afford nice things for our family.

So, dear blog reader, I am SORRY that I've been MIA.

I did miss you. 

And I certainly missed my therapy (writing). I was shocked to look at my blog and see only a few blog posts for the month. I knew that writing had taken a spot on the back burner, but I didn't realize it was that far back....

Trust me, I have plenty of blog posts brewing in my mind! And I have inspiration saved in my inbox from the Think Kit 31 Days of Blogging Challenge that I royally failed at this month.

Every morning, I'd see the topic and get excited about what I could write about...then before you know it, the next day had arrived. And then I was a day behind, two days behind, and then days turned into weeks.

Adjusting to my new work schedule and surviving all of the holiday madness simply got the best of me!

Sweet little Coop was sick on Christmas too.

But I'm ready to focus on my new goals for 2014.

And I'm doing my best to embrace healthy habits (both physically and mentally) for the coming year.

My word of 2014 is CLEAN! 

I'll share more about what that word means to me in my next blog post and review how I did with my word for 2013: NEW.

Much love,

PS I think stay at home moms work just as hard and are equally exhausted! This blog post is just based on my personal situation. And in an attempt to not sugar coat everything, I am simply sharing that life (while more fulfilled and beautiful than ever before) is simply busier as I try to adjust to new schedule. Thanks to all of you for supporting me and encouraging me during this new adventure! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Letter to My Son: Month 3

Dear Cooper,

Writing you this letter is hard because I am in the midst of my most challenging week as a new mom: leaving you and returning to work. I've literally enjoyed every single day, every moment, every minute of our time together since you were born three months ago (TODAY). You continue to amaze me with your happiness, smile, heart, and intelligence.

Time flies. And so much can change in 3 months!!!

I'm blown away at how expressive and animated you are at all hours of the day. I could be changing your diaper at 3 am and you'll be looking right into my eyes - smiling and cooing - as if you were telling me all about your sweet baby dream.

But this weekend I had to prepare for the challenging week ahead... I was battling a HORRIBLE ear infection all weekend long. I felt so miserable. I was in and out of the urgent care and lived with an ice pack on my head + ear drops in my ear.

I went to bed Sunday night crying myself to sleep. Tears of both physical and emotional pain. I was dreading Monday morning. I didn't want to go back to work. I really didn't.

The thought of you leaving you with a woman I barely know simply crushed my heart. Don't get me wrong- Lora is amazing and seems to adore you. But I felt such anxiety and guilt for leaving you. I kept telling daddy that it feels so unnatural to just leave your baby and carry on with your day.

It's like someone tells you to function without your heart. 

How is that possible?

Regardless of my emotions, Monday morning was still on the horizon. And I quickly decided that I could be an emotional trainwreck...or I could try to find some positivity in the situation. Now let me tell you...trying to find something positive about leaving you was nearly impossible. It's hard. I won't sugar coat the situation.

I cried the first time I dropped you off.

I was fearful.

I was a worry wart.

And I cried (oh wait, I already said that!).

I was thankful for our daycare dry-run last week, but I knew I wasn't prepared to leave you all day. I woke up early to get ready and have some time to snuggle with you. You were smiling and telling stories...and I wondered if you knew.

Did you know that today was the day I was leaving you? 

Did you know that I have cried so many tears and felt so many emotions about this day? 

This morning.

This heartbreaking morning...

"Well, are you ready?" Daddy asked me.

"No," I said. "I'm not ready. I quit. I'm not going to work today- I'll stay at home with Cooper forever."

"Babe," Daddy said. "You'll be fine! You'll do great and he will have so much fun."

So much fun without sweet baby boy- will you have fun without me!?

We packed you up into my car and drove over to the daycare together. As a family.

When we got to her house, you seemed so happy that you were kicking off your blanket. We carried you into the house and Lora greeted us with a big smile.

I honestly can't even remember the conversation we had that morning. I was so anxious. But I do know that Lora was so excited to see you. And you look equally excited to see her.

I kept telling you that I love you. 

That I'll miss. 

That I'll be back before you know it.

That I'll think of you all day long.

I gave you a final kiss and hug goodbye (and so did your Daddy) and we walked back to the car. I watched you from the window again. Trying to get my final glimpse of your adorable face.

I took a deep breath and Daddy grabbed my hand, "Are you okay?!"

"No," I said. "But I have to give it a try."

I dropped Daddy back off at the house and kissed him goodbye. As I pulled out of the driveway, I realized I left my water at home. I pulled into the neighbors driveway and turned back around. Daddy looked confused and waved at me to keep going.

"I CAN'T DO THIS!" I screamed. "I am done! I'm not going!"

Daddy's jaw dropped.

"JUST KIDDING!" I yelled and started laughing at his shocked expression. "I just need my water."

"Oh my gosh," he said. "I thought you were serious. Or I thought you were turning back around to go see him again."

I pulled out of the driveway (for the third time now) and tried to remain mentally strong.

You can either be a trainwreck about this entire situation or you can be thankful that your son is in good hands with someone who truly adores and loves him.

At first, my mind started to wonder...and play the, "What If?" game. But I quickly realized that was a BAD idea.

I needed to think about your smile.

Your happiness.

Your heart.

I couldn't fear or worry about potential bad situations (that may or may not even happen).

So instead of dwelling on the idea that I was leaving you...I decided to smile and reflect on all of our memories together.

I pictured your smile and heard your laugh. 

And I literally couldn't wait to see you later that evening.

Picking you up from daycare will always be the highlight of my day.

When I got to work, I was greeted by such happy and supportive people. I had sweet treats on my desk and cute notes.

I love my Iasta family.

My coworkers made this hard day a little easier with their kindness and support. To my surprise, the day flew by.

And when I went to pick you up, Lora quickly said, "Go away! You can't have him!"

She told me how great you did, which eased my heart.

"I literally can't get over how sweet and intelligent he is," Lora said. "He is so angelic."

When I got home that evening, I googled "angelic" and it means:

1. of or belonging to angels: the angelic host.
2. like or befitting an angel, especially in virtue, beauty, etc.: angelic sweetness.

And I smiled so big and tears swelled up in my eyes.

You are my living angel, Cooper. 

You give me purpose and reason in life. 

And while I HATE spending our days apart, I'm so thankful you're with Lora - who absolutely adores you. I know she snuggles with you and spoils you with love and kisses. You tell her stories and have fun with your new girlfriends. You've officially stolen the heart of so many women already, Coop.

Lora sent me this picture on your first day of daycare.
Clearly daycare is easier for you than me!

I know that being a working mom is hard - just as being a stay at home mom is hard. Both options have a list of pros and and downs...struggles and moments of joy.

But I'm hoping in the long run you'll be thankful that we could provide for you and do fun things together as a family.  Maybe one day I can take you to Disney World - although, I was technically pregnant when I went last December.

Yup, I am super cool and wore a fanny pack.
 I'm fortunate that I work for an extremely supportive company and flexible boss. Even though he doesn't have children himself, he is SO supportive and understanding about my needs as a new mother. And I get to take off every Thursday to spend with you...Coop Day!!

So, on my morning drive to work, instead of crying I find myself smiling as I think of you and all of our great memories. Here are a few of my favorite moments this past month: 

Our first "Friendsgving" celebration of 2013.

You always remind me the importance of learning to laugh at yourself and to live in the moment.

I made you look like the kid from Home Alone.
We will watch that movie together this Christmas -it's one of my favorites!

Oh hi, my heart is MELTING at your smile in this picture.
Your happiness is so pure and contagious.

I may or may not have used the baby bottle drying rack for my gigantic wine glass.

I asked if you were ready to be a BIG brother instead of a LITTLE brother.
You were not impressed.

We took silly pictures of daddy while playing COD, which apparently you are addicted to as well.

You got to spend your FIRST family Thanksgiving with your new cousin, Hayden!

Mommy did her first post-baby 5K!

You should seriously be a baby model. I need to find you an agent ASAP!

None of your 3-month old clothes fit.
Talk about high waters!! Sorry babes.

I am literally obsessed with smelling your "stinky feet,"
Your daddy thinks I am gross, but I can't help it.

We went shopping together for new work clothes.
You did GREAT and we saved SO much money!!!

You watched your first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

And we took our first Thanksgiving family photo!

You were a little snarky that you couldn't eat the big people food.
Next year, little year.

Once everyone left, you and daddy snuggled up to watch more football.
And my heart melted, per usual.

And you woke up on Black Friday with a GIANT smile on your face.
(Not us).

I continue to Snapchat my friends pictures of us.
Sorry you look chunky in this picture, but my bangs look AMAZING!

I'm beyond excited for your first Christmas!!!

You're a big boy now. Moving to your pack and play instead of the bassinet.
We'll get you in the crib soon. One step at a time!

You're such a deep thinker - I wish I could jump into your mind and listen to your thoughts.

Lora sent me this picture during our daycare dry run - you did amazing.

YAY for Chritmas PJs and mommy's "Gucci" sweater.

I didn't want Sunday evening to ever end. I snuggled with you ALL day long.

Daddy and you reading stories before bed.

"Hello, is mom there!?"

"HI MOM! I love you!"

My first day back to work...and your first FULL day at daycare.

Getting ready for Day 2 of daycare, which let me tell you, Day 2 was WAY harder than Day 1!

I couldn't let you go on Tuesday night. Such a hard day...

But we did better on Wednesday!
One day at a time...

Thank you for filling my life with so much joy and happiness. I probably conclude all monthly letters by saying those words, but I truly mean them so much. You have changed me for the best...

And you are, without a doubt, the best thing that has EVER happened to me. 

Well, your daddy is a close second  - because without him, I wouldn't have you. Kidding, I love you both to the moon and back.

Much love,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Positive Self Perception

I'm trying to play catch up on my Think Kit blog posts... Who knew blogging once a day would be so hard!? 

Anyway, here is the topic from yesterday: 

At first, I thought of my body. 

What do I want my body to look like in 2014? 

Last night, I tried on a dress that I wore one year ago. 

I looked in the mirror and noticed all the ways that my body has changed since pregnancy

My hips. 

My curves. 

My thighs. 

And because I am a selfie-aholic, I remembered taking a picture when I first found this dress! Just for curiosity to see how my body had changed over the year, I did a side-by-side comparison. 

The changes to my body were immediately obvious. Sure, I have about 15 lbs to hit before I'll weigh the same as I did in the picture on the left...

But after studying the picture, I realized that I am proud of these child bearing hips. And I love my curves! 

So instead of focusing on my body - I've decided to focus on my self-perception! As women we can be extremely hard on ourselves about our body. We seem to notice every flaw - every stretch mark - every glimpse of cellulite. And new moms can be even harder on themselves because they have unrelatiatic expectations or hopes to quickly return to their pre-baby body! It took 9 months to gain that weight and grow your baby - so it will take a good amount of time to "return" to your old size again. 

So instead of saying I want my body to look a certain way or I want to be in a certain pant size...I am taking a different approach! 

I want to have a healthy mind as I continue to tone and strengthen my new body! With a positive outlook, confidence, and a belief in myself - I am certain I can achieve my health and fitness goals - one of them being to complete a sprint triathlon in the summer!! 

You often hear stories of amazing and inspiring people - people who do something against all odds. 

And what do they all have in common?!? 

They don't let anyone hold them back. 

They believe in themselves. 

They push themselves. 

They fight with everything they have! 

So in 2014- I plan to keep my head high, believe in myself, and push myself to new limits! 

As a result, I should lose that 15 lbs and then some. 

I should have a toned body. 

I should have a medal for another half marathon. 

I should have an amazing finisher picture for my first sprint triathlon. 

I should have a positive self perception that keeps me fighting on and believing in myself (and anything that I set my mind and heart to accomplishing). 

And it's going to be a fun and exciting journey...I have Cooper to help keep me inspired and on track with all my health goals! I get tears in my eyes just imagining what it will be like to see, hug, and kiss Cooper on the finish line of my next half marathon. 

Much love, 

Daycare Diaries: Day 1

You guys know how I feel about returning to work and leaving my babes. I've shared stories here and here. Oh yes- and here too!

As you know, I'm crushed- it truly feels so unnatural to leave your baby. 

Thankfully we found a wonderful woman to care for Cooper. You could see how much her and Coop bonded when we had our "interview" a few weeks ago around my birthday. And let me tell you- finding her was a gift. 

On Thursday, we did a dry run with daycare because I had an all company meeting to attend. 

Even though I was so sad to leave him, I found myself getting excited about dressing up and socializing! Goodbye yoga pants, hello new sweater dress.

Still rocking my post-baby curves!
I spent most of my morning snuggling with Coop and taking hilarious selfies: 

"WHAT?! I'm going to daycare today!?"

Whyyyyy sooooo serious, Coop!?

"I farted."

And he kicked around with captain calamari for a bit. 

"I'm not so sure about you anymore, Captain Calamari."

SO handsome!!! And finally getting some more hair.

By 11:45 am, I had everything packed up for Coop's first time at daycare. I know I over packed, but that's just my style. 

I prepare.

I plan.

And I (over)pack!! 

Before we left the house, I had a pep talk with Coop. And I made him promise not to forget me...

When we pulled into the driveway, tears filled my eyes. 

"Get it's just a few hours!" 

I took a deep breath like my friend Erin reminded me to do and went to grab Coop. 

He was kicking, smiling, and being his normal happy self (thank goodness he is feeling better ....leaving a sick baby would be even harder).

The front door was open.

I knocked and waited for her to come greet us.

She looked so happy and excited.

Her house was beautiful -decorated with Christmas decorations and cleaner than our house. Way cleaner. I could pretty much see my reflection in the floors and loved smelling that the fresh lemon scent. She must have majored in "cleaning" at college. Clearly I missed the memo on that course. Sorry, Justin.

Anyway, Christmas music was playing in the background. And I noticed she had a Christmas baby book laid out on the counter (she later told me how excited she was to read that book to Cooper).

I dropped off Coop and ran back out to the car to get his other bag and bouncy chair. I wanted to feel like he was at home as much as possible.

When I got back into the house, she was already holding Coop.

He was smiling at her and she was laughing.

"He is so full of personality," she said. "We will have a blast today!"

And before I could say anything, she added, "And look at you! You look fabulous!!"

Good call, Lora. Make me feel better about myself. Distract me from leaving my son with your kind words and compliments. I knew I liked you...

It worked for a minute and then my heart melted as I watched her and Coop interact with each other.

And that's when it happened. 

The pressure built up in my throat. 

My eyes got warm. 

And I made the face -the ugly "I am tying so hard not to cry but it's about to burst out of me!" face. 

Lora looked up and caught me crying. 

"I promise we will have a blast," she said. "I know exactly how you feel! But save the tears for Kindergarten - that's when it really gets hard." 

And then the water works came pouring out. 

Maybe it was because she was so kind. 

Maybe it was because Coop is already growing up to fast. 

Maybe it was because I didn't want to leave him- not today or ever. 

I'm guessing it was all three of those emotions and feelings....

"I am just so thankful we found you," I said as tears poured down my face. 

I looked at Coop, who was still smiling and loving life. 

"He means so much to me and I am just happy we found someone who will treat him so well," I said choking up again. 

We shared some more small talk and she kept assuring me that everything will be fine.

"Have fun, today!" She said. "It'll be good for you to get out of the house. And we'll have lots of fun here too! I kept telling my husband about how amazing Cooper is...he's such a happy and easy baby!"

I thanked her again and snuggled up with Coop one more time.

I found the courage to walk back to the car. 


Without my heart. 

I barely made it off her porch before I looked back to see his face again.

She already had the door closed, but I could still see them through the glass.

They seemed to be dancing around the house to the Christmas music.

I took a deep breath - he will be fine. 

Once I got to my work meeting, I was extremely thankful to see familiar faces. Everyone was so supportive and kind. I shared some laughs and even ate food from one of my favorite places (McCallister's Deli). 

About 30 minutes into our separation, I got this sweet picture of Coop from Lora. 

Happy boy. Daycare is DEFINITELY harder on me than Coop.

Driving home was the best part though - my excitement to see him was overwhelming. And when I arrived back at her house - I was so happy to hear how well Coop did at daycare. 

He was really sleepy when I picked him up. So when we got home, I got the chance to snuggle up with him on my chest, which is the best part of my day! 

A sleepy baby on your chest might be the best feeling ever.

And when he woke up, he was as happy as ever! 

Smiling so big his nose crinkled up.

And I was reminded by his facial expressions and stories that he definitely missed me too! 

Telling me stories about his day.

Tomorrow is the big (sad) day! My first official day back to the office. I plan to take it day by day ...  Minute by minute. 

Justin is coming with me in the morning to drop off Coop. I'm so thankful that Justin will be my side in the morning...And  I know I'll be greeted with supportive and happy faces on Monday at work. 

I'll miss my Cooper so incredibly much, but I have to trust in my heart that Coop is in good hands. He will have fun, share lots of smiles, and appreciate his new friends! 

And I will be eager for picture and text updates all day long! The best part of my day will be picking Coop up after a long day apart from him. I know I will appreciate our time together so much. I'll still manage to get in my 30 million kisses I give him each day. We can watch our episode of LIVE with Kelly and Micheal online together. And I'll absolutely snuggle with him and listen to his stories until he gets sick of talking!

I'm trying to stay strong. And I am praying for mental strength and positivity tomorrow (and every single day I have to spend apart from my baby).

Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement as we start this new chapter and routine together. So many of you have lifted me up with your positive experiences and encouragement.

I keep reminding myself of the comments / advice that people have given are a few that get me through (in case any other moms out there are looking for some perspectives about returning to work from maternity leave):

"It's the hardest at the beginning. It does get easier. Unfortunately people judge you regardless, but do what's right for you. Personally, I thought I wanted to stay home full time, but once I found a job I love, who is flexible with working moms. ..I want to go back. I like feeling like I'm still me. And I'm a better mom when I get home. And I'm able to do fun things with them without feeling like" I shouldn't be doing this, we can't afford it." If you choose to stay home, a career will always be there. But don't be fooled with the comments like" you'll miss out on everything. " because you won't. And coop will not forget you and he will always know your his mama." 

"Oh man, I wish I had a great secret, but for me it has just been getting a little easier everyday... It's still hard though and it's been 3 months.. What I do is keep very very busy so I don't have time to think, and try to remember that I'm working so she can have a nice home, clothes, all that.. I also actually pulled up my student loans and printed my total to remind myself I have to work both to pay them and so hopefully I can help (my daughter)- it will come back to u how important it is to have a part of your life that's just about you (work) .....Also ask if they can send u pics- my daycare will even FaceTime if I freak out."  

PS I'd like to add that moms who stay at home STILL working a full-time job! It's a lot of work to raise children - and you make a TON of sacrifices too! Whether a mom decides to work or not is a hard decision....and each family needs to make that decision based on their unique situation. No mom should ever be judged for her decision to work again or stay home with her kid(s). 

Much love,