Thursday, October 23, 2014

Having It "All"

“No woman can have it all, and by using all as the standard of success, we are only condemning ourselves and our daughters to failure.”  - Debra Spar, “Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect”

I like this quote from an article that I recently re-read after being at this whole parent thing for half a year.  It’s a wise summary of what I've been feeling recently.

The other day, I excused myself from an all-day meeting being held at a local country club.  I lugged my trusty “black bag” to the restroom and set-up a now familiar scene.  I unpacked hoses and funnels and replaced batteries before exhaustively pumping.  I checked my handy “tot-report” while standing in the stall to better understand how No-Nap-Nora’s day was going.  I researched six-month baby schedules while simultaneously trying to read countless emails that I was already behind on answering.  Meanwhile, I heard someone in the restroom with me.  I honestly paid her no attention until she made the comment, “Is someone in there making liquid gold?!”

And, I cried.  The kind woman asked how old my baby is to which I proudly replied, “six months!”  She answered my exclamation with a kind you’re doing a great job!  

I never laid eyes on the woman. I wish I could have hugged her thanked her before I let myself succumb to my emotion.  

Here's what I know about motherhood so far. I have surrounded myself with a great “village.”  I read angry blog posts that are forwarded and re-posted all over the place about judging moms - working moms, stay-at-home moms, fun moms, boring moms, moms who love their cell-phones and moms who hate everything.  All of that judgement that has been discussed, it's been the minority of my experience.  More often, I’ve received ongoing support.  A kind look, a friendly nod or overt encouragement.  I’ve received this from stay-at-home moms, working moms, part-time working moms, and ladies who lunch at country clubs.

The person who has judged me?  Myself.  I am far too guilty of chasing the “all.”  So, that's my pledge for these next few months of parenting - to strive not for perfection, but for a stability that is sustainable.  I'll give-in to the dropped balls hitting the ground, and enjoy it.  For myself.  And, for No-Nap-Nora!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Back to Work

“Back to work, back to work, so my boss doesn’t think I’m a jerk!” (This is sung to the tune of Back to School from Billy Madison!) 

After eleven weeks home with my lil wizard, Thursday marks my first day back to work outside of the home.  I’ve had a lot of emotions surrounding this week – way more than I ever thought I would – which got me thinking about the age-old discussion regarding stay-at-home vs. working mamas.

First, I have to admit that I’m excited to head back to work!  I’ve worked hard to build a career that I am proud of and enjoy. But, this is not to say that I won't bawl when I drop the bean off at daycare or that I don’t have the utmost respect for those mamas who choose to stay home with their littles.  I have not once had dinner ready for my husband when he got home from work in the last eleven weeks.  Honestly, between getting pooped on, nursing, shhhhing, bouncing, rocking, cooing and diaper changing, it never dawned on me that I could do all of that and get dinner ready.  (Yup, I’m an awesome wife!)  In short, being a stay-at-home mama is hard work and being a working mama is also hard work - and don't even get me started on those brave mamas who keep their kids home with with them while they work - how do you do it?

Truth be told, I have worked while I have been home and it has looked like this every time!
The truth is, no matter the work we do, we all just want to do right by our littles.  And, I think the only people who know what “right” is, are our partners, children and selves.  Heading back to work this week is the right thing for my family – for far too many reasons than I can list on this blog and I realize I am leaving out the whole financial issue in this discussion of this highly sensitive subject.  That’s a different blog for a different day.  I know I won’t be able to do it all.  I will miss big meetings to cuddle with our bean when she isn’t feeling well and I will miss activities when a big meeting requires my attendance.  The reality is that some days my career will suffer from the juggling act while other days Nora will and still on other days my marriage or I will take the hit.  But, I will strive to be a “good enough parent” just as I have always sought to build a “good enough marriage.” 

Psychologist Donald Winnicott believed that the way to be a good mother was to be a “good enough mother!”  What he meant by this was simple – “the good enough mother is one who loves her child well enough for him to grow into an emotionally healthy adult. The goal is mental health, defined as the fortitude and flexibility to live one’s own life — not happiness.” This crucial distinction allows for the margin of error that is inevitable as a human.  I believe our job, as parents, is to love our children to the best of our ability, and ready them for the world so they can seek their own happiness.

"Wait, we aren't going to hang out all day, everyday?"
Ultimately, my good-enough will be different from your good-enough but our goal will be the same – to raise good little people who will grow into great bigger people.  We will ensure our faces light up when they enter the room and  provide them a foundation that makes them strong enough to build the life they seek.  And hopefully this, not simply staying home or going to work, will make them great people!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Month One

Month one with our little peanut has no doubt had its ups and downs.  We are so lucky to have a fairly laid-back baby, but even with that, the first month has been a blur.  Anyone who has a child can probably relate to what a blur the nights are.  Two hour stretches of sleep give way to nursing which fades into rocking which quickly becomes diaper changing and then paranoia.  The paranoia inevitably leads to a quick check to ensure the baby is still alive because the room has become quiet (which means you should be asleep) before you finally fade into another two hours (if you’re lucky) of sleep, and the cycle repeats.  

Realistically the days are not much different.  In between the actions that become robotic there are quiet moments of gratification.  A small grin (gas) or a look that undeniably means “hey, I know you’re my parents and I love you guys too.”  That’s when the sleep deprivation that has caused you to look for your phone while you’re on it or run your car into the garage and knock the side mirror off (yup, those things have happened) become worth it.

So, as month one draws to a close we still have no idea what we’re doing.  But, she’s growing so we think something is going right and we’re all learning.  We’re learning that we’re no longer in charge and that side mirrors can be replaced, but those quiet moments cannot.  They fade in quickly and out just as fast.  The blur that is parenthood has just begun, and more than anything we’re soaking it all in.

Happy One Month Birthday, Nora!

And, a little housekeeping.  I’ve added a page to the blog about our road to baby.  I’ve had a number of people reach out to me about infertility so I compiled all the posts that were on a previous blog in this spot.  Feel free to visit if you’d like to learn more (or not if you’re not interested!). 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nora James Wendling's Birthday

I used to read birth stories and always found them interesting from an ok, now I better understand what to expect standpoint.  I like to hear how long it lasted for people and how bad they truly thought it was, but I have to admit, I’d skip over the parts about how amazing an experience it is because I just didn’t understand. 

Here is the story of Nora’s birth.  It includes the parts about how long it lasted and what the worst parts were, but now I understand.  I can’t help but cry every time I think about our experience of welcoming her – it truly was amazing.

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
After being told that our lil peanut would more than likely arrive around 35-36 weeks gestation, it was safe to say that I felt well over-due as I hit the 38 week mark.  We were so happy that our girl was healthy and comfy in the womb, but mama was getting more uncomfortable by the day. 

Looking back, there were small signs that should have told me that Andy and I were both getting ready for our little to join our family.  As he came to bed the night before she was born he put his hands on my belly as he fell asleep.  I remember pausing to think; “this may be the last time for this!” 

1:00 am
I began feeling some cramping at about 1:00 am that woke me up.  Although it was nothing terribly painful – I was able to sleep through most of it – I decided to relocate to the guest bedroom just in case this was the real thing.  I wanted Andy to have as much rest as he could because I knew I would need him later.  

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
5:45 am
I was able to sleep through early labor for the most part.  I crawled back into our bed to update Andy at around 5:45 am.  At this point contractions had gotten closer together, but I still questioned whether it was the “real thing!”  Andy had a dentist appointment that morning so he decided to go to that and call me when it was over to see how things were progressing.  About the time he called to see if he should head into work or not, the contractions were coming closer together (about seven minutes) and getting increasingly uncomfortable.  I still hesitated to ask him to come home (I had a serious fear of being the false alarm girl and was in labor denial), but I went ahead and told him that I thought he should come home to walk with me and see if things continued.

8:30 am
As soon as Andy got home we headed out for a walk.  At this point the contractions were hard to walk through so our walk was relatively short (just around the block).  As we inched closer to our house – about two houses away and extremely close to a garage sale that was going on that morning – Andy’s back started to tighten up.  Andy indicated that he had sympathy symptoms for much of my pregnancy – eating, cravings, sleeping, etc. – so it shouldn’t have surprised me when he started talking about how he thought he was having sympathy contractions.  We both stopped walking as we laughed, and to keep things interesting, my water broke right there – in front of the garage sale.  Luckily, it started raining almost simultaneously so I don’t think anyone noticed the extremely pregnant lady with wet pants as it was camouflaged by rain.

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
I had hoped for a natural birth long before I became pregnant.  Once we found out that our little was head-down, Andy and I prepared to welcome the peanut into the world with as few medical interventions as possible.  So, once my water broke, I had hoped to labor at home for at least a little while longer.  We already notified our doula about the progress, and Andy called the hospital to ensure we didn’t need to come in immediately.  With contractions now coming pretty quickly (five minutes or less apart) and intensely, Andy began loading up our car for the hospital as I mainly labored in our bed for as long as I could.

10:30 am
As the contractions grew in intensity, we headed to the hospital.  We called Melissa – our doula – and had her meet us there rather than our house as it was pretty clear that things were happening relatively quickly.  Once at the hospital, we were checked-in to a triage room so they could assess my labor.  The first time a nurse checked me – in triage – I was already almost five centimeters dilated (this was probably around 11:00 – 11:30).  So, they quickly got us to a labor and delivery room and it wasn’t long before contractions began to come one on top of another.  

2:00 pm
I had envisioned my birth playlist echoing in the background while Andy massaged my back as I labored through, but as things progressed quickly, I mainly just stayed focused on each contraction as Andy stayed close by.  We were so blessed to have an amazing nurse – Cindy – who was supportive of my birth plan, and of course our doula – Melissa – in the wing to help as things got more intense.  Luckily, labor stayed pretty calm and there was never a time that I wanted to give up and ask for pain medicine.  And, I was fully dilated and ready to push by 2:00! 

As they prepared me to begin pushing, I remember looking up at Andy in anticipation.  I was certain we would be meeting our daughter shortly.  Pushing was a journey all its own and extremely tough.  We’re not sure if she changed positions a few times as she worked her way out but all signs indicate that she did.  I am so thankful for the amazing team at St. Luke’s.  Because we were consistently making progress during the two hours and forty-five minutes that I pushed, no one ever mentioned additional interventions, and Nurse Cindy did an amazing job at keeping me motivated.

But, no one did a better job than my husband.  He never left my side and seemed to constantly say the things I needed to hear.  I searched his eyes multiple times for motivation and found it each time.  I also kept some of my favorite words in my head as I inched closer to meeting our daughter.  I find running analogies everywhere, so as I reached the end of my rope I kept thinking about the last .2 miles in the marathon we ran a few years ago.  Because as Kristin Armstrong says…

".2 is the metaphorical distance between you and any finish line in your life, anything you have ever dreamed of doing or becoming.  It's what's separating you from your truest, most authentic self and your most actualized life.  It's what's worth thinking about, strategizing about, planning for, training for, and going for. 

.2 is simultaneously the end and the beginning.  Because when we cross one finish line, we arrive at the next start line, carrying with us everything we learned from prior distance."

Our race was long and at times extremely hilly.  But, I knew, while pushing, that this was our finish line and our start line.  And, Andy and I were going to cross this one together.
Photo by Heart Shot Photo
4:46 pm
Our little peanut was born at 4:46 pm on April 24, 2014.  She weighed in at 7 lbs, 12 oz and was 21 ½ inches long.  In her pediatrician’s words (not mine, of course), she is perfect!  I was able to push her out with no medical interventions – they never even placed an IV port in me!  And, Andy and I were able to experience the rush of joy as they placed her in my arms, together.  Thirty-one months after we started trying for our family, Nora James Wendling was welcomed into a room full of love.

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
I cried as we left the hospital.  Not because I was scared or anxious but because I knew that we were leaving behind an experience that we were so lucky to have.  Although Nora’s birth was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, I left the hospital feeling like we were leaving a great vacation behind.  We were so lucky to deliver a full-term, healthy baby and to be going home with her.  We were lucky my labor progressed the way it did, and that we were able to have the birth we had hoped for.  But, more than anything, we are lucky to have her.  

Photo by Heart Shot Photo

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Showering and more!

I remember each of my wedding showers like they were yesterday.  I remember the wine, the fun, the people, the wine (did I say that already?  Ok, I miss wine!) and the celebrating.  But, I also remember feeling overwhelmed – in an amazing way.  I remember thinking how lucky we were to have so many people around who wanted to celebrate this milestone alongside us.  And, even more overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of those individuals.

Fast forward four years and immeasurable amounts of hormones later, and that overwhelmed feeling is immense after two amazing, beautiful baby showers!  Baby Girl W and I have spent much of the past few weeks sharing our anticipation with our incredible friends and family.  My first shower was held in Cedar Rapids and hosted by two of my very closest friends – Shay and Betsy.  No detail was left unattended by these two.  Seriously, it was beautiful!

And, my second shower was held in St. Louis and hosted by my aunt – Teresa.  Our lil lady is blessed to be joining a close-knit group of women that we call my extended family.  I had to laugh as I noticed her barely moving on Friday evening while all of us ladies hung out laughing and chatting until way past my bedtime.  I hit the bed that night exhausted, and what do you know, the little lady started kicking, punching and having her own little party.  I swear she was saying “thanks, Mom, finally some peace and quiet!”  She’ll adjust to the Buechter women in due time!

It’s amazing the emotional effect that each of my showers had on me.  Anyone who has seen me these past 8 months can probably attest to what a nervous wreck I’ve been.  A high-risk pregnancy is no joke.  But, something about my showers calmed me down.  Knowing that she will be welcomed with so much love, and into a space that was prepared with her in mind has truly reassured me and helped me relax.

A little glimpse in her room!
 Finally, although I hesitate to count our chickens before they hatch (in 6 weeks or less!), I have to say how lucky we are.  Not just because we have so many amazing family and friends who have been cheering our little peanut on and offering prayers for her not-too-soon and safe arrival, but because we have her.  

I let myself look into the statistics and read medical reports after we made it to a safer part of this pregnancy, and I can’t help but shed tears every time I think about them.  After reading way too much information, (again, anyone who has interacted with me these last few months knows the gobs of information I have read) I understand the odds of me sitting here healthy at over 33 weeks pregnant were against us.  But, I’m sitting here.  Because this lil peanut is determined and driven to come out in due time, and meet all of the magnificent people who have been anxiously awaiting her arrival - including two pretty proud parents!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Pregnant with a Unicornuate Uterus

After the initial shock of an actual positive pregnancy test wore off slightly.  I was somehow able to get some sleep before waking up the next morning as a totally different person – a crazed pregnant lady.  I remember having no idea what I could or couldn’t do or should or shouldn’t do.  Can I make a turkey sandwich for lunch?  Oh shit, I’ve already slammed a cup of coffee – is that allowed? 

I called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened at 9 am.  I knew that they would want to do early blood tests as our IVF doctor had warned us of the higher chances of an ectopic pregnancy with a unicornuate uterus (I’ve linked both of those terms so you get way better definitions than I can give!).  What I didn’t know is that they would test my blood every few days until I was 6 weeks pregnant at which time they would do an ultrasound to ultimately rule out our first of so many worries.

We were so lucky to make it through those first few weeks with no issues.  My HCG levels were rising normally and our 6-week ultrasound showed a perfectly healthy lil peanut - although, I only felt “half-pregnant” as I continually waited for the other shoe to drop!  Once we were able to meet with our doctor – the same doctor that we worked with for infertility – we learned that starting around 16-18 weeks we would have ultrasounds every two weeks to monitor my cervix.  This would allow them to intervene quickly should signs of pre-term labor begin to show.

The fun part of all of this was that we were able to check-in on our lil lady quite regularly.  At 18 weeks, we found out that she was in fact a lil lady and we began to get comfortable with all of these doctor appointments.  We even discussed whether Andy needed to go to all of them.  Luckily, we decided that it was best that he attend alongside me so he was present at our 20 week ultrasound.  At this ultrasound our doctor noted what appeared to be the start of “funneling” in my cervix. 

Essentially this meant that my cervix was opening at the top.  And, while my cervix appeared to still be “long,” it was apparent that this was going to need to be monitored closely.  If my cervix shortened to under 2.5 cm before I was 24 weeks pregnant, we would discuss additional medical interventions – a cerclage, etc.  Our doctor did not put me on bed rest after the 20 week appointment but she did limit my activity – mainly no working out and no intercourse!

The next two weeks were hell – and Christmas!  I promise that I’ll always remember the holiday season of 2013 primarily thanks to my extreme lack of any sort of excitement toward it.  All I wanted to do was make it to December 26 so that I could better understand what was going on with my body and our lil peanut.  So, on December 26 we drove from Hudson to Cedar Rapids for our doctor appointment not quite knowing if we’d be back afterward.  I truly assumed that I would be on bed rest after this appointment and we’d be scheduling the cerclage procedure.  And, while my concerns could be viewed as extreme pessimism by some (ahem, my husband), I truly felt like I was being realistic with the minimal information that we had.

I should note that I had Googled funneling once since our 20 week appointment.  I quickly read definitions and causes before closing down my browser.  Beyond that, I refused to look into any worst-case scenarios.  I just didn’t think they’d help anyone.

At our 22 week doctor appointment, we were shocked to learn that the funneling was GONE!  I honestly had no idea that this was even a possible outcome.  I assumed that either my cervix would either slowly shorten (best case) or quickly shorten (worst case) but I had no idea that the issue going away completely would be an option.  Our doctor also seemed a bit surprised, but as happy as we were!  We left with instructions to keep doing what we were doing – no intercourse, no working out and limited amounts of activity!  And, we’d return in another two weeks to see how things were proceeding.

Luckily, we made it through the next month without the funneling returning.  It was about this time that I allowed myself to read more into what the whole “funneling” situation was all about.  It was scary to read about all the things that could have gone wrong but so reassuring to know that this was no longer a worry of ours.  Of course, because I am a worrier, I do tend to get anxious thinking about future pregnancies but I’m so thankful that our daughter is so strong and resilient.  I still can’t believe all the odds that she overcame at only 26 weeks gestation.

Our 26 week ultrasound was also quite humorous.  Our lil peanut was extremely squished to say the least.  She was literally folded in half with her head up toward my ribs and her arms and legs covering her face.  She was in breech position and my doctor and I were certain that she would not find the room to turn around before time ran out.  Honestly, I was fine with this.  Although I had hoped to have a natural birth, I always knew there was a high likelihood of c-section and I figured it was the least of our concerns while carrying a child in half a uterus!

At 26 weeks, we had the longest break in doctor appointments that we had the entire pregnancy.  I was almost 29 weeks pregnant before I returned to the doctor for my glucose test.  At that time, we began going to the doctor every 2 weeks until we hit the 35 week mark when we would start to go weekly (like a regular pregnant lady!).  These appointments were thankfully uneventful except when at 33 weeks we learned that – again, against many odds – our lil lady was in fact head-down!

So, that’s where we currently stand.  34+ weeks pregnant with a healthy little girl.  We are so lucky and look forward to updating this page once she decides to join us in 6 weeks – or less?

** Update, our little lady was born healthy and happy at 38 weeks.  You can read more about her birth story here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's a...

It’s been a few weeks so I’m going to try to capture a whole bunch of events into one post.  Here we go…

It’s a… GIRL!
Right after Thanksgiving, we added yet another item to our laundry list of things to be thankful for.  We will be welcoming the most adorable (I can already tell through the magic of ultrasounds!) lil lady in the spring.  We decided to jump on the whole “gender reveal” bandwagon and had our ultrasound tech seal the baby’s sex in an envelope so we could deliver it to a local bakery.

We then invited our families to our house the Saturday after Thanksgiving to celebrate as we found out if we’d be having a little mister or misses.  I think the pictures speak for themselves… shear anticipation and excitement mixed with an ounce of utter anxiety.  

It’s a… SCARE!
Shortly after the whole idea of having a little girl began to sink in, we headed back to the doctor for our 20 week ultrasound (we found out the sex at 18 weeks and have been having ultrasounds every two weeks since then because of our “high risk” categorization).  At this ultrasound, there were signs of pre-term labor.  With some instructions for restricted activity from our doctor, we spent the holidays taking it easy and, let’s be honest, focusing on nothing but - is everything ok?

Turns out, our girl continues to be full of surprises – for us and our doc!  All signs of PTL were gone at both our 22 and 24 week checks.  Here’s to hoping she’s comfy, and continues to want to stay in there a little while longer.

It’s a… NEW YEAR!
This year has been a roller-coaster for us.  I commented at Thanksgiving that 2013 held one of the hardest days we’ve encountered in our marriage and one of the most bewilderingly exciting.  And, I’m thankful for both of those days.  As I look ahead at the blank slate that is 2014, I can’t help but imagine the person I hope to be for my daughter.  I hope that no matter the day – difficult or amazing – she sees a strong mama who deals with all life’s adventures with true grace.

It’s a… FINAL YEAR IN MY 20s!
Honestly, I truly don’t know how my 30s will top my 20s – I hope they are up for the challenge.  I’m so looking forward to rounding these ten years out in true style.  A new kind of style – mama style!  It will include neat things like cute bags under my eyes, a cute new (diaper) bag on my arm and the art of finding accessories that go well with spit-up and blow outs.  I can’t wait!

23 weeks on the left!
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