I did it again: 2016 and Baby #2

So in truly terrible blogging fashion, I completely fell off the screen in 2016. Looking back at my blog posts, I realize that I didn’t even muster the energy to share that I was pregnant again! If you’ve followed along and read about my 1st pregnancy then you might give me a pass. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum the 1st time, and while #2 was different and not quite as severe, I was similarly useless and incapacitated as this time there was a toddler involved.

After I found out I was pregnant again, I celebrated and then got very, very anxious. Nervously waiting for the nausea and barfing to start,  I was honestly a little alarmed when I didn’t get sick right away. With #1 the misery started promptly at 5 weeks.  For me being pregnant=being sick, so not feeling like crap was disconcerting.

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But, rest assured, it hit me. At 7 weeks, the cycle began in poetic fashion: I was bopping out the door on my way to work with my toddler in tow, and when riding the elevator it just hit me like a bus. I knew I didn’t have time to get back up to my apartment, so I just dashed outside and found the nearest tree. I’ve done a lot of barfing on trees in this city, it almost felt ceremonial to kick off the sickness by doing so again. It was extra fun with my daughter calmly watching from her stroller, amused and slightly perplexed at the goings on.

And so began another yucky 40 weeks. This time, I didn’t wait to get help. One of the biggest lessons I learned about Hyperemesis Gravidarum the first time is that when it gets out of control, it’s very, very hard to claw your way back to functional. So my strategy with this pregnancy was to use all the tools at my disposal right away. I demanded to see a doctor early (usually they like to see you at 10 weeks or so) to confirm the pregnancy and discuss all of my medication options. This helped a lot– I still barfed and dry heaved a ton, and I was still nauseous around the clock, but I took medication at the first sign of trouble and didn’t end up spiraling down so low as I had with #1.

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Well, until the 2nd trimester. You’re supposed to feel better then, right? For me, in both pregnancies, the 2nd trimester has been the worst. Once again I had multiple episodes of literally being unable to cease vomiting. Like, you stop, but then you lay down for 5 minutes and then start again, until your body has absolutely nothing left, but it still tries. And then it gives up and you rest again and oh, great, some more bile has built up, and your body is excited that there is something to get out. Rinse and repeat for hours on end. This time, there was a toddler announcing the play-by-play “What are you doing mama? Mama are you spitting in the toilet again? Can I see it?” Sometimes I had no choice but to let her watch as it’s difficult to force a toddler out of the bathroom mid-puke. I felt badly about that, but also hoped it would help her understand why I spent every moment that didn’t require something urgent and important to happen laying down on the couch.

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When it get’s like that, I’ve had to go to the hospital to get drugs and fluid through an IV. During one particularly awful week, I made a trip to hospital every afternoon for 4 days. I saw a variety of practitioners as it was over the 4th of July weekend and thus not the regular staff schedule. The variety in care I experienced was frustrating– some nurses/NPs/midwives/OBs seemed to totally get it and hooked me up with some fluid and drugs with no problem. Others were a little more conservative, or just slower to respond. One didn’t seem to worry until I started dry heaving without being able to stop while I was waiting to be seen. For any pregnant woman out there who is unusually sick: you MUST advocate for yourself. It’s not fair, but it must be done. They gave me one bag of fluid and I asked for two, because one bag barely makes a dent when you have crunchy lips. They offered me Zofran pills and I told them to get the liquid and put it in the IV bag. They offered Phenergen as pills to take home and, in the lowest of low moments, I instead took the alternative, which were SUPPOSITORIES, because that actually sounded more effective than attempting to keep the pills down. If you know what works and what doesn’t, speak up. It’s your body and baby.

Trimester #3 was probably the best part of the pregnancy, oddly enough. While the unwieldy size made me feel like a houseboat floating around my office, I at least had a few breaks from the nausea and managed to keep the barfing under control in a way that I never experienced with my first. I even managed to enjoy some food, venturing out with friends and colleagues for a few dinners out prior to the new baby.

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But, I was EXHAUSTED. My poor husband was functionally a single parent during this time. When I stumbled in the door from work, he would do all the things to care for the crazy 2 year old, who was reaching the apex of her terrible-twos during this time. He and I are all about attempting to split parenting and household responsibilities 50/50, but at this stage he was running the show 90/10. I was only holding up my end of the bargain by continuing to get to work. Life note: if your pregnancies suck, reconsider timing. If I could go back, I think I would have either done it sooner, when the toddler was less resistant (i.e. during the 12-24 month period) or later, when they supposedly chill out (3 years +). I got pregnant just a couple months before she turned 2, and I swear the crazy switch flipped right on her birthday.

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I worked until I was 37 weeks. I could have left at 36 weeks because I live in California, but financial considerations along with everything that was going on at my office in preparation for the holiday season kept me going. Sometimes I regret not taking every moment off, but as I discussed the first time around, working was also a major distraction. It was miserable dragging my body to the office every day, but at least my brain was required for a few hours to ignore the nausea and think about something totally unrelated. It’s a love-hate relationship for me, working while pregnant. I think if I didn’t, I would wallow in misery, even though I would likely be more rested and physically capable of dealing with how I felt.

Baby arrived early this time, right at 39 weeks. This was a surprise, #1 was over a week late. His birth was totally different than my first, except that it kicked of with my water breaking. That’s two for two on hollywood-style labors starts! Everyone loves a birth story, (or at least I love everyone else’s birth stories!) so I’ll save that for another post.

Copyright 2017 © i am a working mom blog

Maternity photos by the wonderful Cristin More

 

 

 

 

 

Because everyone has something to say about your bump.

Mamas, this is a topic that is sensitive to all of us: it’s all the things people have to say about our bodies with baby bumps. A few weeks ago my dear friend Mandy wrote to me about the comments she was receiving about the size of her pregnant body from friends, family and colleagues at work. She gave me permission to share her thoughts, and I’m guessing every single mama out there has a story about something someone has said, unsolicited, about their bump. I’d love to have you weigh in! 

Here’s Mandy:

SHAME ON YOU FOR BODY SHAMING

As I dive head-first into the third trimester of my first pregnancy, I can’t help but notice that everyone seems to have something to say about the size of my body. At first, I let it roll off and even joined in to end the conversation sooner, but now, I’ve reached my limit.

What I find particularly interesting is the difference in tone and tenderness in the comments made by my family, friends, co-workers, and strangers.

Exhibit A:

“You look beautiful.”

“Your belly is the cutest!”

“Looking good! How do you feel?”

Those are all direct comments I’ve received from my husband, co-workers, and strangers.

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Exhibit B:

“WOW – are you sure there’s only one baby in there?!”

“No offense, because your face, arms, and legs are still tiny, but is this a joke and you’re actually having four babies?”

“Oh MY! There’s no way you’re only X months along. You’re so BIG! Those doctors must be wrong about your due date.”

Those are direct quotes from my siblings and other close relatives. At first, I thought that perhaps this was their way of trying to make me laugh. But I think there’s something more to it. I’ve narrowed it down to three potential reasons:

1. I’ve always been thin. Maybe these people who grew up with me are simply uncomfortable with my changing body and don’t know how to kindly communicate their feelings.

2. Social media is the problem. Most of my family is 2,000 miles away, and the majority of these comments are made in the form of posts or text messages in response to a photo. We all know that people tend to lack human filters on digital forums.

3. They’re inconsiderate assholes.

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Whatever the reason, it’s not ok, and I’m going to start sticking up for myself. Here are some ideas I have on how to respond henceforth:

“Just one baby that we know of – but we’re thankful I’m so healthy. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, and I’m in a healthy range. Thanks for your concern.”

“How interesting. I didn’t realize you were so uncomfortable with my changing body. Feel free to give me a call if you ever want to talk about it. It’s a lot of change for me too, as you can imagine.”

“Turns out I actually am only X months along. It would be great if you could be a little more supportive and focus less on the size of my body and more on ways to keep my spirits up.”

Tbd on the effectiveness of this new approach. If nothing else, I will be amused.

There is no good reason why pregnant women should have to bear the burden of insensitive comments about our bodies. All the changes we’re going through are beautiful, terrifying, and exciting all at the same time. Our journeys are unique and worth celebrating, not shaming.

-Mandy

This really resonated with me. I too received a lot of commentary on my body in my first pregnancy. I’m pretty sure EVERY pregnant woman gets a myriad of unsolicited comments. Why is a baby bump suddenly the green light for people to let loose their thoughts about our bodies? 

I didn’t gain a lot of weight (see: Hyperemesis Gravidarum) and I received commentary about how “tiny” I was, and how “great” I looked  because I was small or “only belly”. I was “lucky” that I didn’t “even look pregnant from the back!” If I posted a picture, the comments from mom-friends/peers were often centered around the perceived success of my not-too-big pregnant body. 

I recognize people who said these things really meant to be complimentary. The world tells us skinny is the ideal, so being on the smaller side as a pregnant woman must be a real treat, right? But honestly, I fretted about my weight gain. When my daughter was born 10 days late, I was surprised at her very average size- I had been told late babies are usually a pound or two bigger than average. She then ate like a ravenous wildebeest from the moment she got to the boob, putting on the pounds at lightening speed. I’ve always wondered if she came out extra hungry because she never got quite enough from me in the womb. I felt like a crappy mom before my kid was even born. 

There must, MUST be something better to say to pregnant women of all shapes and sizes that can satisfy the urge to reassure your friend/coworker/lady at the grocery store that she really is glowing with the beauty of motherhood, without any reference to her size. Right? 

Thoughts? Any tips for Mandy on great responses you’ve heard or given? 

 

 

 

Lifestyle of a mom, in photos | Happy Mother’s Day!

As I hinted to in my daughter’s birthday post, I was lucky enough to be invited to help a very talented friend with a project for her business. Jen, professional photographer and mother of 4, (including twins!), has been shooting newborn and family sessions for years here in the Bay Area. She shot my husband and I years back when we were carefree and childless with few things better to do than document ourselves in all of our favorite spots in San Francisco. She then took what might be my favorite picture of all time in a newborn shoot for my daughter– I mean, who can capture a 2-week-old baby with such smiling eyes and a joyous expression? I’m pretty sure I cried for 15 minutes when she first sent me this photo:

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So, when she texted me about a motherhood lifestyle project focused on the life behind the lens rather than traditional family portraits, I was totally game. Jen describes her motivation to feature moms so beautifully:

Even when the subject is a newborn, what I’m drawn to is the story of a woman’s rebirth into motherhood. Or with a family, what I can’t shoot enough of is that mother-child connection. As a mom of four and a photographer, I ache to have my time with them documented–in an honest, artful, and–let’s be honest–flattering way. I got to thinking about the milestones in our lives that are typically documented–high school graduation and wedding for sure; maybe a head shot for work; and maybe maternity photos.  After that, if she has professional photos taken, the focus really isn’t on mom; it’s on the kids. Motherhood is so transformative, so consuming, and, many would say, their defining title, I believe mamas deserve to be photographed simply for that reason.

I’m hoping to shoot more sessions where the focus is on the mom, where the story I tell is her story, and where the resulting images can be a source of satisfaction. A counterpoint to the feelings of mom-guilt and self-doubt and plain old fatigue that are universal to the role of mothering.

Can we get an AMEN for this wonderful concept? How often does the supposedly straightforward task of getting your life together for a family picture exhaust you before you even start? And then you get them back and someone isn’t smiling, or you don’t like your hair, or your toddler is a maniac and you feel like you failed at mothering again. I loved this concept, and so there was simply no way I could turn down the opportunity to just take some time with my daughter to do the fun things we already enjoy and have someone crazy-talented capture a few of those moments on film. I was pumped.

We went to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, where we are regulars on the weekend browsing for fresh fruit to taste and flowers to bring home. We meandered along the Embarcadero, (a daily occurrence for my girl and I)  and then went back to my apartment to simply be the weirdos that we are.

Here are some of my faves from the shoot, which of course features just me and my daughter. I figure if there is ever an acceptable time to post an abundance of pictures of myself with my kid, Mother’s Day weekend is it!

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Jen shared some of her goals for her future motherhood lifestyle sessions with me, including the following:

a) embrace motherhood and want to remember themselves enjoying it; they value their role as something worthy of capture in and of itself

b) aren’t looking for canned smile-at-the-camera shots. These will be very interactive, a little artsy/unexpected, and, hopefully, soul-stirring. A mix of quiet, sweet moments and playful ones. At home and/or out & about, doing things that are true to the mom and her kiddos.

c) are willing to be vulnerable. What I’m hoping for isn’t just an idealized version of her experience; I want it to be in a way real and raw, because mom-ing is messy and frustrating and thrilling and sweet and full of all the contrasts imaginable.

I’m beyond flattered that when she decided to try this out, she thought of me. Jen asked me how I felt after receiving the images she created, and I honestly couldn’t be more delighted. Doing the shoot at home was probably my favorite part- my daughter was so comfortable in her own space and was willing to play and be her regular silly self, despite another person in the apartment lurking with a camera. Jen was so patient, waiting for just the right moments to capture, not interested in forcing anything. We had ideas for some pictures we wanted to try to make, but mostly we just played things by ear. As a mother herself, Jen can read her kid clients so easily, and being able to gauge the mood of a toddler is way more important than the adults.

Thank you Jen for the awesome session! You can see her edit of this shoot and learn more about her at this gorgeous website, www.jenjphoto.com. Today’s photo’s are all, of course, by Jen Jacobson.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO EVERYONE!

Copyright 2016 © i am a working mom blog

 

Moms to Marvel: Meet Cristin, “working-part-time-when-I-feel-like-it mom”

Welcome to the April installment of my series Moms to Marvel. I am regularly sharing a stories from inspiring moms to get unique takes and experiences on balancing life, working and motherhood. Check out previous posts here. If you have a story you want to share, contact me! 

Cristin and I met via a mutual friend who astutely observed that we happened to be pregnant/due at the same time, and more importantly, we both were miserable and despised pregnancy beyond description. Thus she concluded we might get along! Turns out that’s a winning formula, I’ve never been set up with such a fabulous friend. 

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Oh hey, a giveaway?

Mamas. Of all the mom-blog things I should know how to do, a giveaway is probably one of them. But as with many things, I’m behind…what can I say? Oh right, I’ve got a toddler.

I’ll be brief. I love simple, modern home decor, and I’m obsessed with maps (a derivative of my love for traveling). I don’t do much traveling these days; between working and the toddler I’m barely keeping the wheels on my local life—but I do love a good stare at a map to think of the possibilities.

So, I’m very excited that I get to give away 7 of these lovely pieces: a Gold on White World Map printed on  a 20″ X 24″ X 1.5″ gallery wrapped stretched canvas, the design by Amy Brinkman and made by Americanflat. Clear off a wall, this beauty needs a prime spot to hang!

3 easy steps to enter!

  • Leave a comment on this post including your instagram handle (or email so I can contact you)
  • Head over to my instagram, and follow me! (@iamaworkingmom)
  • Like the giveaway post on instagram and tag 3 friends

*For an extra entry, subscribe to the blog with your email! (subscription box to the right)*

Winners will be selected at random and I will notify you with a link to claim your prize on Wednesday night!

There will be SEVEN winners (!) so tell all of your (mom) friends to drop on by. It’s totally ok to have matching gold maps with your mom-bestie.

Cheers!

Martha

Happy (fiscal) 2016! Five sanity tips for a happy mom year.

Well mamas, here I am, celebrating the Fiscal New Year 2016 which for me officially started last week. I must acknowledge my complete disappearance from the internet during the 4th quarter of 2015, but it was inevitable: I work in retail. November & December are two short, innocent months that each take years off of my life. This year was no exception: I wrangled a normally two-person job as just one run-down lady and then I spent January mopping up the mess. February, sweet February, is the true new year when everything starts over and I can surface for some fresh air again. Me and the ground hog, we’re on the same schedule.

When reflecting on the last 3 months, all I can think of is being in constant survival mode, from managing work/daycare schedules to planning to spend 10, yes T-E-N, days with family over Christmas. I’m not sure if these are truly words of wisdom, but here are a few things that I did to gain efficiency and/or preserve sanity.

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  • Pre-think. Never, ever save thinking for in-the-moment. It slows you down and you’ll probably make a poor decision, like eating a 16 oz bag of Sour Patch Kids for breakfast. I gained back a solid 5 minutes per day by looking at the weather and picking out all 5 of my daughters daycare outfits on Sunday night, folding and stacking them in order for the week to come. It’s more likely that her socks actually match AND I gained 25 whole minutes of morning time back! And double that if I can plan my own outfits in advance! Neurotic? A little. Efficient? A lot!
  • Along with pre-thinking, pre-prep. I have astonished myself with my new-found fondness for meal planning. I get with Brandon on Saturday afternoon and we negotiate out dinners for the week, me constantly reminding him that Munchery food-delivery is not really that delicious for the price and still requires microwaving. Then we make stuff. It’s meal planning, but it’s also doing things like prepping the 5 bottles of milk for daycare lunches so they are handy in the fridge, ready to go each morning. I also have reduced both thinking AND prepping by planning Sunday-Thursday dinners to be something that makes for a good leftover lunch the following day. Perhaps a tad sad for my toddler who doesn’t get unique school lunches, ever. And if she didn’t like dinner, oh well, maybe she’ll like it better cold during daylight hours? (This has often been the case, specifically when dinner involves melted cheese, which she HATES, because she insists on defying toddler stereotypes) But she generally gets a good square meal, and I get to subtract 5 instances of thinking and prepping from my life!

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  • Make (fun) commitments. Do you know me personally? Then you know I am the definition of a homebody. Once I’ve crossed the threshold from work to couch, don’t even bother trying to pull me back out. And now that going out involves prepping a toddler? Forget it. I do ostensibly love to do things, of course. And yet, the holidays were so overwhelming with work that I easily could have spent my weekends inside and alone with a book. But I rallied and made commitments with all my favorite friends and we had a blast doing festive things around San Francisco. Putting things on paper and telling my friends I would be there makes it happen. This included friendsgiving at Golden Gate Park, The Nightmare Before Christmas @ the SF Symphony on an impromptu mom-date, a visit to the Dickens Fair (apparently a 30+ year tradition!), hosting an Apres-Ski brunch party at Delancy St., venturing to the Fairmont Hotel to see the life-size ginger bread house, taking the toddler to a family-friendly Symphony Sing-a-long at Davies Hall, and even venturing south for a German Christmas Market. The last 3 months were a blur, but if anything stands out, it was all of those special adventures with friends around the city. (Thank guys!)

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  • Remember what “vacation” means.  Every single year we go home for Christmas and every single year we somehow forget that being home is not a vacation. We love and adore our family, but running around (toddler in tow) seeing everyone, attending parties, navigating multiple feet of mountain snow– this isn’t what “vacations” are made off. This year we even packed in a four-generation family portrait session at the Utah State Capitol (above).  Each year we try to come home a couple days early to have some time to ourselves and regroup, but I think next year we can trim our 10-day-trip to 5 or 6, and have 3 or 4 days to really get some R&R at home, or maybe even sneak in a night in Napa!
  • Don’t make New Years resolutions. Make fiscal new year resolutions instead! Because you can spend January watching everyone else eat salad and go to the gym while you continue to enjoy cookies and Netflix. Trust me. It’s satisfying.

on the dock in San Francisco freatured on iamaworkingmomblog

Copyright 2016 © i am a working mom blog

header photo By micadew from US (Happy New Year 2016) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

all other photos are mine.

Hyperemesis Part III: The 3rd Trimester

Fact: The 3rd trimester of pregnancy begins at week #28, and lasts an average of 10-14 weeks, as measured by standard linear time on a Gregorian calendar.

Fact: The 3rd trimester actually lasts approximately 25 years in time as experienced by women with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It feels like forever plus another forever on top.  Especially when trying to muddle through pregnant life as a productive contributor to the work force.

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