This is my Reality.

I don’t have a good sleeper.

I don’t know what a good sleeper is.

I don’t know what it’s like to get 3-6 hour stretches of uninterrupted sleep.

I don’t know what it’s like not to be exhausted.

I don’t know what it’s like to not feel like a zombie.

This is my reality.

I do know what it’s like to cry with my baby at all hours of the nights.

I do know what it’s like to question if he’s in pain, gassy, hungry multiple times a night.

I do know what it’s like to be told that I’ve put my son to sleep too early, too late, starving, incorrectly, and any other way that diminishes my credibility as a parent.

I do know what it’s like to be told I need to stop cosleeping because I may roll on top of him and kill him.

I do know what it’s like to be told to just “let him cry it out, he needs to learn.”

I do know what it’s like to scream, cry, blame myself because I just have a bad sleeper.

I do know what it’s like to doubt myself on a regular basis. Have anxiety attacks as the clock creeps towards bedtime. To want to just give up when it’s been two hours since the process has begun.

This is my reality.

Luca is a bad sleeper.

Luca had (has?) painful reflux, a cow milk protein allergy, a reaction to tree nuts through breast milk.

Luca screamed for the first six months of his life during every single moment of sleep.

Luca became afraid of sleep.

Luca could not handle sleep training. He would scream for hours, get so worked up he’d puke, finally say mama to stab my heart, and then cling to me thinking his life was over.

Luca is terrified of his crib.

Luca cannot sleep now unless he’s touching me.

It sometimes takes hours to even get him to sleep.

This is my reality.

Here I am at 11:45 at night. Have been trying to put my stubborn son to sleep since 8 pm. Have tried nursing, a bottle, white noise, lullabies, rocking, just about anything possible to get him to sleep.

Have tried moving bed time earlier, moving bed time later, filling him up before bed, moving feeding times around, scheduling, going with the flow, sleep training, co-sleeping- again just about anything possible to get him to sleep.

I cry most nights. I beg him to please just go to sleep most nights. I feel like a shit parent most nights.

Again, this is my reality.

But still I wake every day at 8:30/9 and I parent my son. I feed him breakfast, we play, he learns something new, we fight a nap, we have lunch, we play, we learn something new, we go out, we fight another nap, we play, have dinner- do you catch my drift?

My reality is that I do the damn best I can for my son. I be the best mother I possibly can for my child. I cry a lot because it’s all I can do when the frustration hits when he squirms and screams in my arms to fight sleep. When he wakes up 5-6 times a night shrieking at night, inconsolable because of reasons no damn doctor can explain except for teething and separation anxiety. I cry because no one knows the true struggle of raising a baby that NEVER seems to sleep but they so often can give opinions on where and how he sleeps; on parenting a child they just haven’t experienced because like I’ve said before Every. Single. Child. Is. Different.

This is my reality. This is my life of getting minimal amounts of sleep, doubting my parenting, crying with my child through the night, trying to keep my sanity while working & going to school, and just trying to not run away.

It’s a reality that is so not talked about. We hear so often “Oh is he a good baby, sleeping through the night?” I’m sorry, is my child bad because he doesn’t? Is there something wrong with him because he doesn’t? Do you feel I’m a bad parent because my child doesn’t? Do you see the line of doubt you place into parents heads with these assumptions on how a child is meant to act?

We don’t talk about the harsh side of parenting; the painful, gut-wrenching, pull your hair out, try not to yell at the world side. The side when you want to run and leave this child behind just for a second of quiet, peaceful, eight hour sleep. The side where you need sleep to function but you feel this painful bought of guilt every single time you ask someone to rake him just for an uninterrupted hour of sleep. When you feel guilty because this is the life you grew, the life you swore to protect and nurture but you feel like you’re falling apart because you cannot function. You cannot biologically function without sleep. But you feel like a failure for admitting that, don’t you? For admitting that you need something that takes time away from your baby.

This is my reality. This is so many parents reality and yet we hide within mom groups where moms spout opinions on babies they barely know. Where moms shame other moms because they choose other practices. Where surviving becomes shame because you did something that another mom deems unethical, dangerous, downright selfish. Where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

We hide behind the shadows of the moms who know it all because we’re afraid to admit we don’t.

WE. DONT. KNOW. IT. ALL.

You could have raised 10, 15, 20 children and let me break it to you- you still don’t know it all.

Do you know what you know? YOUR children.

Do you know what you don’t know? MY children.

Let’s talk about the ugly side of parenting. The painful side of parenting. The scared, lost, and afraid side of parenting.

What is our actual reality?

This is mine, and I can’t hide it anymore.

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@animalmama_408

Mom& Baby Work To Sleep- Night #1

If you have been following our journey it should truly be no surprise when I say that I have tried every single outlet in putting my 10 month old to sleep. We have nursed, rocked, co-slept, bed-shared- just about any way an exhausted parent could think to get their equally exhausted (though will fool you by acting like an energizer bunny) to sleep. Nothing seemed to work when Luca was in the midst of fighting his sleep.

That is until mommy started working out again.

When you have a clingy baby- due to a developmental leap, teething, an illness, maybe it’s just their character, who knows- it is their most important need to be held. During this time when mommy leaves the room the entire world has erupted and they can no longer survive because you had to go and use the restroom and they just could not come. I mean c’mon mom, do you really need your privacy while using the toilet? Selfish.

When it came time for me to get my health back on track it just so happened to fall during a time where my child was going through a large developmental growth spurt as well as pushing as many teeth as his poor mouth could handle. Motrin, we thank God for you every single night. Of course if I walked more than two feet away from my child, placed him in a crib- even with more toys than he could dream of- or said mommy needs some time, we would throw an absolute meltdown. I’m talking throw our heads back like a demon was being exorcised out of us, throw our hands in the air and scream loud and shrill enough to make the neighbors think we are being tortured. No one ever said babies weren’t good in the dramatics. So what else was I supposed to do but be clung to by my baby sloth.

This is where baby wearing is a perfect idea.

I chose to baby wear little Luca during his dramatics- he got a comfy spot attached to his momma and I remained with two hands to continue to do whatever I needed to do. So I chose to workout during these times. I would find easier workouts, especially because I was completely out of shape. (Really I still am, but the huffing is improving I swear!) I even found some baby wearing workouts that I decided needed to be tried.

And could you imagine what happened whenever I started to really move? The little bugger would yawn, close his eyes, and drift of too sleep. Be stilly my heart.

Thus came the idea of working out in the evenings to lull my stubborn, all too curious little boy into sleep.

So, every night I will choose a new video or a mixture of previous videos to workout to and document the results. It’s so stressful when your child fights sleep. Through the last ten months I can not even count the amount of times I googled “my -insert month old here- will not sleep”, “why does my child hate to sleep” “What did I do wrong?” “Will banging my head into the wall- ” WHOOPS totally did not google that…..

But truly, as new moms we are given this ideologic notion that if we train our babies they will sleep better. If we do this, if we do that, they will finally sleep through the night. Newsflash- some babies just do not fit into this construct we’ve placed them all into. Another newsflash- every single baby is unique even within the same family. One thing may work for your first but not for you third or fifth. So we take it as it goes. But we all need a little help to get through the long and harrowing nights when our brains are turning into mush, we’ve run out of seasons to binge on Netflix, and our babies won’t sleep in their crib but are trying to jump of the bed and giving you a heart attack. I’ve been there, more than a few times a week, and I’m here to say it’s okay. It’s okay to do what we need to to survive their first few years. So breathe, grab a glass of wine, a baby carrier, and saddle up that energizer bunny because if they won’t sleep the least we can do is get in some mom time.

Night #1:
Our night began like usual with our bedtime routine. Pajamas, a bottle, quiet play with the lights dimmed for about half an hour. Some nights do include a bath, but we had one yesterday and I do not like to give one every single day unless he’s really dirty. We gave our night time kisses to his grandparents then to mommy and daddy, laid down and sang a few songs together in the darkness.

In my mind this is how our bedtime routine went tonight.

Tonight, my child is a ball of drool and nubs of teeth wrestling to make it to the surface first so we gave some motrin, a bottle, nursed a bit, then tried to rock him so that he would stop fidgeting and just give in to sleep. Peaceful, quiet sleep. Well, Luca had other plans.

So I grabbed my handy-dandy (peep that Blue’s Clue’s reference) baby carrier and proceeded to zip it into place. A noise was heard, a familiar noise that has led me to say phrases I never thought I would say in my wildest dreams. Yes ladies and gents, my little pooped. He pooped in the last nighttime diaper I had for the evening. We are off to an already good start.

Some wrestling, some crying, a bit of crawling away from mommy while she tried towhee his little tush, and a fresh, clean diaper later we are ready to party. We strap my little monster into the carrier and put on a fantastic 15 minute “Walk a Mile At Home” video. We begin.

It’s truly a nice video with very simple steps that mock going on a walk outside except instead of being in workout pants that flatter my butt and a top that makes me feel like I am not a mom, I am in my sweatpants, a messy bun, no bra, and a ratty old tank top. What I do in my home is my business and I dare anyone who has another opinion to bite me. Literally, bite me.

As we begin my child squirms a bit, giving off his last bit of fight he has left in him to the mean old sleep monster. I have to call it that because he acts as if sleep is the worst thing in the world. I love sleep. I would marry sleep if it were legal. This all must come from his fathers side, but we will not tell him that. Two minutes into this lovely workout I he falls asleep. As I continue I start to wonder if I really want to keep going. It’s late, I could catch up on some television shows, I could drink a glass of wine, I guess I could go to sleep and take advantage, but alas I keep going.

I make is 11 out of the 15 minutes.

WOO! An accomplishment if I ever did see one.

Half an hour later he is still asleep. Will it last? We shall not know until tomorrow when we do this again.

Now this momma is going to lay down, have some water (I’ll tell you what I want you to believe), and maybe just maybe get some sleep.

To the moms who are still waking every 20 minutes to 2hours a night I salute you, I wish you well, and I hope that in all the things I try in my journey you find some solace in knowing you are not alone. Never, and I mean never, blame yourself because you tend to your baby. Never blame yourself because they just won’t sleep. Some babies just don’t sleep. Some babies do not sleep through the night until they are two years old and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, the mother did wrong. Stop listening to those who insinuate you’re doing something wrong because your baby doesn’t sleep through the night. Stop listening to those who say they’re hungry, let them cry (even when you have tried and they literally scream for HOURS, then vomit, then scream like they are dying every single time you come near their crib),you’re not doing enough.

You are doing the best that you can, I promise you that. We never know the baby we will be given. There is no mold that they all can fit into. They are all so very unique in so many ways. Take a deep breathe, snuggle that stubborn baby- it will be okay.

Give Yourself a Break

I can honestly admit that before I had a baby I was never very active. Going to the gym always seemed like such an ordeal and working out at home was so hard when three dogs were running around tripping me whenever I went into a squat. I struggled to keep myself away from the carbohydrates, sugars, and getting in at least a gallon of water a day seemed to be quite the dilemma of my day to day life. Somehow I would be able to lose weight, but looking back I realized it was in the most unhealthy way possible. Not only was I struggling with supplying my body with the nutrients it needed to function, but I was also dealing with an underlying eating disorder that depleted me of vitamins and nutrients I needed to survive.

So what was stopping me from becoming a healthier person? Excuses, mental anguish from years of being bullied, and of course the satisfaction that I could live this way and still manage to lose weight.

Well then I had a baby.

When you give birth to a baby your hormones like to play sneaky, little tricks on your homeostasis. Homeostasis, you ask? Well the biological definition is all the systems in your body working together to keep equilibrium. However when I think of this term I also like to think of the psychological effects that can deter your equilibrium. Your hormones, though produced by a system in your body, tend to effect you mentally- especially if you’re a girl, hello PMS. When you give birth to a baby there is a large level of progesterone that depletes itself rather quickly once the baby is born. This, in case anyone reading this still believes post partum depression to be a psychological disorder, is what causes Post Partum Depression. Your body is going through a large withdrawal of progesterone, and it really does not know what to do. The withdrawal of progesterone causes your mind to warp right into a state of depression that can sometimes last for the “two week blues” or a few months to years down the line. It’s normal and nothing to ever be ashamed of. You created and gave birth to a human being, you’re allowed to take however long you need to get your body back to a state of “normal”, whatever that may be

Now back to homeostasis. Apart from the mental and hormone aspect of post-baby syndrome, our bodies change in even more ways. Our hips can remain as wide as they were pre-birth, our periods could change in drastic ways, our sleeping patterns change, we become more in tune with another human than we ever thought possible, and it can become much harder to achieve, or maintain, a healthy weight.

When I was pregnant I gained a normal amount of weight, however, before little Luca was conceived I had managed to successfully lose and keep off 206lbs. However, much to my dismay, the scale would go up every few weeks at my pre-natal appointments. I would watch as all my hard work appeared to deteriorate before my eyes. I was gaining back the weight I had worked so hard to lose. It was then that I decided post birth I would workout routinely, eat better, and lose the weight, plus more, to be in the best shape ever. As I am writing this we can all tell that did not go according to plan.

I came home with my newborn elated but exhausted and felt like I was glued to the couch for the following few weeks. Cluster feeding, reflux issues, cows milk allergy/intolerance issues- there just wasn’t time to sleep. There was barely time to shower, brush my teeth, and eat. The pounds quickly melted off and before I knew it I was only 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I was ecstatic. Maybe my body had not betrayed me.

Cue in PostPartum Depression mixed with a baby that cried for six hours a night.

My weight fluctuated. I would lose five then gain back seven. Sugar became my best friend through coffees with syrups that just weren’t necessary, quick snacks to eat so I could naps before he woke. It became a long process of feeding my body what was easy rather than what it needed. And working out? What was that again? There just wasn’t any time.

Through his last ten months I got lectures on his sleeping habits, his eating habits, what I should be doing as his parents because somehow I wasn’t doing a good enough job for anyone. I was losing myself slowly, falling into the daily cycle of trying to get him to sleep, trying to get him to eat enough, trying not to hate this body that seemed to be growing instead of returning to its previous size. My days blended together and I felt as if I was about to lose it, but I had to keep it together because he needed me, and apart from all the opinions and sanctimonious parents- he was a damn good, well taken care of, happy baby. I had spend the last ten months abusing myself because I began to doubt not only my ability to be his mother, but my ability to find myself again.

So, though ten months later, I have found that I can not only be his mother, but I can also be the person I know I need to be. It’s okay for our lives not to revolve around our children 24/7. It is okay to remember that if we are not in the best mindset, we cannot properly care for our children. So take the time to workout, take the time to drink a proper cup of coffee, and if you need to take a nap with them in bed with you (the horror, I know) do what you need to do. They’re only this little for such a small amount of time, and one day this will seem like just another period of life. Soon you’ll blink and they’ll be less than 2 months away from turning a year, or entering their terrible twos, or a day I dread- the day they enter kindergarten. We do what we need to do to survive. We keep them safe, alive, and happy- we deserve to not forget that we are human and sometimes we just need five minutes.

My advice to new moms:

Sleep when they sleep- I hated people telling me this when I was pregnant. How could I sleep when he slept? When would I shower, eat, do anything else that didn’t involve my newborn? It’s okay to not shower for a day or two (trust me you’ll blink and question when you’ve taken one last. Have you seen that episode of Jane the Virgin? When they try to trick her into taking a shower? No? Well go watch it. Season 2, episode 2).

Get a baby carrier- I love my baby carrier. I had an exceptionally clingy baby and when he would get this way I would put him in a carrier or wrap and wear him around the house. He would fall asleep almost instantly (especially as a newborn), or would coo inside and snuggle against my chest.
I had this one: https://www.lillebaby.com/baby-carriers/completetm/complete-all-seasons/lillebabyr-completetm-all-seasons-feathers.html

And this one: https://mobywrap.com

Honestly Moby Wrap makes an AWESOME new half carrier, half wrap. So next baby.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself- I did. I lost myself completely when I had a baby. I rarely went out, rarely did anything. Take some time to workout, drink coffee, talk on the phone. If you don’t have a significant other around see if you can have someone come over for a bit and watch baby even for as little as an hour. A happy and healthy mama is always best for baby. We do what we can, we survive how we need to.

Don’t say “I would never do that…”- Pre- baby I would always say I’d never do what other moms do. I’d silently pass judgement thinking I was much better because I would never do something with my child. Hell, I swore I’d never give my son a pacifier (cue night two of life when he wouldn’t calm unless sucking). You never know what will happen.

Moms, it’s time to give ourselves a break. We brought these beautiful humans into this world, gave them our bodies for long nine months, and went through a ton of pain to give them life. We deserve to give ourselves a break.

ALSO- I found a fantastic workout group that does workouts while wearing babies!

Enjoy!

Expectations vs. Reality

We all have this idyllic image of how we want our birth to go. Some moms choose an at home setting and some choose a hospital. Some moms want a vaginal birth free of medications and interference, others want a vaginal birth with an epidural and any type of medical intervention that they deem fit. Some moms opt for a C-Section and some moms have no other choice than to have one. No matter what you choose, your birth plan is the way that you truly wish to bring your new bundle of joy into the world, and any way you envision is the right way for you. Period.

As soon as we found out Luca was going to be arriving I decided I wanted nothing more than an epidural or a water birth. Two very contrasting ideas when it came to giving birth. One meant I’d be in a bed until I birthed my child free of pain, and the other meant that I could freely walk around, hop on a ball, and soak in a pool till he was born; except I’d feel everything until he decided to arrive. For me, the deciding factor was the pain. I believe in the grand scheme of things my pain tolerance is not on the lowest of the spectrum, but it definitely was not high enough that I thought I could endure contractions and then pushing without some type of help. And that was okay. It was my birth and I deserved to have what I wanted and not be shamed for it.

Midway through my pregnancy I developed some pretty awful round ligament pain. For those who haven’t had a baby, your body has to stretch in all different types of ways to accommodate for a baby. The ligaments that keep your insides nice and tight need to stretch to accommodate your new houseguest, and for some this can hurt tremendously. Well for me, it definitely did. Pain very often is also a trigger for my MS symptoms because pain=stress & stress=potential flare up. Because of this out flew my birth plan of letting baby come when baby wanted to, and in came the discussion of possible induction at 39 weeks if the pain didn’t ease. Which it didn’t. In fact it got so much worse that I cried pretty much my last few weeks, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

At 28 weeks I began to have steady cramping pain, which at the time I believed were contractions, but truly I was just dehydrated and my body was rebelling. But I remember when we arrived at L&D to be checked a nurse thought my water had broken, and when you’re sitting there only in the first week of your third trimester having the bed rest & NICU talk your heart kind of sinks, your anxiety begins to escalate to levels you did not know it could reach, and you pray. You pray until you can’t any longer. However, my water did not break and Luca was still snug as a bug in his little water home.

COME 38 WEEKS. As I sit there crying in the doctors office yet again, she decides we are no longer going to induce me because she doesn’t want to run the risk of a C-Section to possibly, if not inevitably, throw my body into a nasty flare. Now, with us being 10 months away from this conversation, I must completely agree with her decision. But then, immersed in pain, I was a very angry, very pregnant little firecracker. And that was that, I had no say. A few days later on April 6th I thought I went into labor. I did not, but She did strip my membranes (Oh My God did that hurt-the internet lied. I know, shocking.) which I think was mainly to help because in part I believe she felt a little bad.

Come April 7, 2017- one day short of 39 weeks- and I’m hopping on my yoga ball praying to the contraction god that this child would exit. I start getting pains again. Braxton Hicks or real contractions- the true question centered around every labor and delivery story. Drink some water and lay on your side, if they go away they’re Braxton Hicks. They did not. At this time I was also in the mindset of giving birth in the town we had lived in a few months prior, roughly 35-40 minutes away, even though there was a wonderful hospital about two minutes away. Again, getting ahead of myself. I time the contractions. 7-6-5 minutes apart. Okay time to call the doctor and see what she wants me to do. I did not, under any circumstances want this child born in my home or my car. I called the doctor in my old town to see what I should do, and low and behold out of the three I favored in the clinic I went to, none were on call. In fact the only doctor on call was the one I refused to go to because she was too nasty, and way too rough. She told me not to move until they were two minutes apart.

So me being the stubborn person that I am decided that if the doctor I did in fact like that was at the hospital near me (I had seen her a few times from my many false alarms) was on call I’d just go to her. Just in case. Lo & behold she was. She told me to come in to get checked. When we arrived they placed the normal band contraptions on my stomach to see what was going on and if I was actually in labor or not.

Side story: Due to my weight loss surgery I had a really soft tummy pre-baby because of excess skin from losing over 200lbs. It always took doctors FOREVER to find Luca because of this and each and every time I had to make a joke of it even though it bothered me tremendously to never have a “proper” pregnancy bump. One nurse told me at 34 weeks that I just don’t have a pregnant belly. I’m sure it was the hormones but I cried for a solid hour- yeah I’m pretty sure it was the hormones.

After twenty minutes of trying to find my typical hiding child they got both monitors in the correct place and found that I was indeed having contractions. Hooray, the hopping had worked! But had I progressed anymore than I was in the office only a few days prior? After the grueling cervical check, no. However, this wonderful doctor did order an ultrasound because of excess fluid coming out, and upon the scan realized little mans fluid was low. So at about 3:30 AM I was moved to a delivery room to be induced on the date I was originally meant to be induced on. Moments later upon being checked we had moved to about a 3/4. I was allowed to have the epidural whenever I wanted but me being the everlasting martyr that I am said I’d wait a bit and see what happened. Moments later my water broke, and I can still remember the nurse saying “Oh now the intense ones are coming.” I laughed. We all laughed. I was so naive. BUT did Luca have the best timing or what?

Five. Minutes. Later.

Have you ever seen an exorcism? Where the people are arched in the bed screaming as if the devil is ripping itself out of their body? That was me in labor. My entire body would go rigid and I’d scream. Profanities. Oh Jesus why me. Why me. I can’t do this. I change my mind. Hate to my fiancĂ©. The works. The poor other women on the floor. Why no one told me to be quiet I do not know. I think it was time for that epidural, if only to save the other mothers who would also be going through this that night. So in comes a nice man with a long needle to put some nice stuff into my back. Anthony comes around and tells me to breathe- ha- and says count with me. Ladies who are pregnant: this is the most magical thing in the world. I managed to sit still through two or three contractions while they did my epidural and I don’t remember feeling the pain as intensely during that time.

My epidural failed. Oh how angry I was.

They tried again. Yes, I let that man stick me in my back twice. But you know what? I felt nothing after that until they switched it off at around 8AM when I had reached a 10.

2 hours of pushing later, out popped little Luca. 6lb 6.62 oz and 19&1/2 inches long.

My birth plan did not turn out the way I had originally envisioned. I didn’t get a magical epidural that worked properly or a beautiful water birth, but I did have a baby that was born healthy & alive. Isn’t that the end goal? To get them here and healthy? Let us try not to put so much stress on ourselves when it comes to the way in which we birth our children. If your plan goes correctly, great, but if not look down at that blessing because we go through the obstacles for them. To get them here.

Update

We took a small break.

I needed to get things in my own life under control before I threw myself back in blogging. I needed to get myself over a horrible self-hating period to be able to enter the world of vlogging. I needed to embrace my family and watch my no longer tiny bundle grow into a consistently mobile little stinker.

During this break we:

Watched Luca grow! Now at almost 10 months old, he’s over 20lbs, 29 inches long, and is constantly on the move. He learned to crawl about two months ago and has not stopped since the moment he could figure out how to move himself out of a spot. Now we are trying to walk and I just don’t think I’m ready for that. It doesn’t even seem like he was born so long ago, let alone that we are trying to plan what to do for his first birthday.

We took Luca on his first airplane ride. As a family we ventured to Arizona from New York (roughly a 5-6 hour flight total). We had a little layover in Chicago, but overall he did phenomenal. He slept for both rides on the way there and then for most of the first plane, and the entire second plane, on the way back home. Everyone loved him on his adventure. We were constantly complimented on how well he behaved, and of course my loving little boy flirted with ever single woman he came into contact with. Oh my future.

Luca also survived his first road trip. While in Arizona we made an impromptu trip to California. I have never been so in love with a state in my life, and if given the chance I would move to California in a heartbeat. The oceans were stunning and the people were so relaxed- I could most definitely see our future somewhere along the west coast. The car ride for the most part was okay. He napped here and there but he is still a baby so he did get a tad bit tired of sitting in that darn carseat. When you take a baby on a road trip just know that the 4 hour estimated time of arrival doesn’t include the multitude of stops you will make to take them out, and of course when traveling with a man who has a tiny bladder, pee stops- they are frequent 😉

In the last few months I think Anthony and I learned a lot as a couple. We didn’t give ourselves a break much when we first brought Luca home from the hospital. We threw ourselves into parenting that we forgot about each other and that our lives don’t have to be 100% consumed by our child 100% of the time. We still have a long way to go, but I believe we are on a much better track now than we were when little dude first came home. All great things in life require hardships and effort, and if both are willing to put it in then it will work.

As for our future.

I’m beginning 2018 with the intention of removing most of the negativity I brought with me in 2017. I want toxicity to be as minimal as possible in any shape or form. People who I believe are not worth the stress, and who pretense themselves under a title just to be able to give abuse and negativity no longer deserve a spot in my heart. People who do not show the same amount of care and love that we do no longer deserve my effort. My goal is to live for MY family. Anthony, Luca, and myself. My goal is to embrace the now and begin to see the positive so the negative doesn’t allow me to miss anymore.

I also want to end this year finally reaching a weight that I feel comfortable at. Since I gave birth to my son I have gone through an awful time of hating myself. My body, my appearance, just about anything about myself. I’ve been so harsh to the body that gifted me the best blessing, and I have harmed my heart in so many more ways than one. I need to remember that I am still human at the end of the day and as they say Rome was not built in a day. I will get to where I need to be to feel confident about the way I look. The scale may show a number, but confidence is within, and confidence is truly what makes the person.

As a family we are moving forward in a positive direction. We will talk more, understand more, judge less. We want to grow together instead of growing apart.

I’m sure there is much more, and I promise there will be many blogs, and hopefully vlogs, in our future.

Enjoy our adventure as we finally apply, and hopefully (GOD HOPEFULLY), get into vet school. Enjoy our adventure as we grow as a family. And enjoy my adventure as I grow into the person I want my son to look up to.

You.

You came into the world with with your eyes full of wonder and your lungs full of air just waiting to burst out into the room. Your hands uncurled and went searching for the nearest item to grab and your body released warmth that could heat a village against my cold skin. You brought the titles of mother and father to the two people who had spent 3/4th of a year waiting to see what you’d look like, who you’d resemble, and if your hair would be blonde or brown. You brought a light into an ever so bleak world and gave a new ray of hope to those who had felt it had been all but lost. You brought love and joy to replace the feelings of anxiousness, sadness, and fear that had been so present before your arrival. You brought a smile to a face that had just been crying in pain, a hush to a mouth that had just spent hours screaming “I can’t do this” on repeat.

You haven’t let me sleep in months and still when I watch you sleep I feel the aching, longing feeling of wanting to be near you. Hearing you breathe, hearing your sound of content as you drift off to a world of peaceful darkness for the few hours you choose to enter. You had such a rough start, screams that would last for hours long, and yet you still smile all day long and show how strong and resilient you truly are. You reach out for strength and love from a human so broken, a human who never felt whole until your heart touched theirs. You reach for a human, find comfort in their embrace, and cry for their attention even though you have it throughout the entire day. You cry for a human you made a parent, made a beacon of light. You cry for a human that never knew love like this could exist until you entered this world, a human who stared at you for your first few hours of life in complete disbelief that you were actually real. You cry for a human, a human you believe you could not live without, when truly this human could not live without knowing, loving, or caring for you.

You made me know the feeling of needing a shower, forgetting what day of the week it is, and wondering if I can continue to do this. You gave me sleepless nights and constant battles for naps while at the same time giving the best cuddles and mounds of kisses. You bring warmth where there once was cold when your lips curl into a smile. You bring about peace where there once was ruckus and pain. 

You made me strong. You made me confident. You made me feel unbreakable. You made me believe. You made me a mom.

Happy & Loved

Lately, life has not been going according to plan.

You’d think by now I’d understand that no matter how much I try, I truly have no control over the twists and turns that life likes to throw, but it is apparent that I am not yet comprehending this fact.

Lately I’ve been feeling so lost and alone. It’s not that I’m actually alone. On the contrary, I have a tremendous amount of support through my family and friends, but this sadly changes nothing of the feelings I have been harboring lately.

I just wish that somehow my mind would let me breathe instead of keeping me chained in thoughts I have no control over.

I’ve been dealing with a form of Postpartum Depression/ Anxiety. Something, again, I have no control over even if some believe I do. I hear things such as “Look at your baby, how could you ever be upset while looking at him?” “You have so much to be happy with why aren’t you?” Ignorance must truly be blissful.

Postpartum depression is not a simple fix that you can make in a split second. If it were so I would not be feeling the way that I do. Another fact, postpartum depression/anxiety is not just being insane and wanting to shake your baby until he stops crying, or worse. Postpartum depression has many forms and there are varying degrees of the way these feelings take hold. Please understand that.

I look at my son on so many occasions and cry from the overflowing amount of love I have for him. I also, maybe even in a span of ten minutes later, look at my life and feel like a gorilla being mocked in a cage at the zoo. I feel trapped and it makes me feel like I’m going insane. It makes me feel crazy, pained, guilty and betrayed. I love being his mommy and I’d change none of this, but I wish that these feelings weren’t there.

I look at this beautiful child that I wanted for so long, fought for for so long, and feel like a heartless person for ever feeling this way.

You see, lately, I just feel so overwhelmed. No one explains to you the flood of emotions you get when becoming a parent. No one truly depicts the amount of worry you will now feel for your new tiny responsibility. Commercials and television shows will show you these births and then the first moment you hold your new blessing. The mom is filled with joy and adoration, and you think wow this must complete her in more ways than one. And you most definitely would be correct. But what you do not see is what happens when the mother comes home with her new blessing with no nurses, no more 24/7 staff, just her, the father, and the baby.

You walked out of the house two and walked back in three.

I began therapy again today after taking a few year hiatus. I spoke about the ways I have been feeling lately and the massive amounts of guilt I have for feeling this way. I think I repeated “I love my son more than anything, but..” As if I had to justify to this stranger that I did in fact love my baby boy despite the feelings I was sharing. Did I need to justify my love for my son? No. Did I feel that I needed to? Most definitely. I needed her to know that even if I have these moments of pain, anxiety, and fear I do in fact love the human that I have brought into this world.

We as mothers are portrayed as these strong people that can never falter, but truly we are all just human beings trying to figure it all out with no manual. There is, and I repeat, THERE IS NO PERFECT WAY TO BE A MOTHER. We are allowed to feel the way that we feel. We are allowed to parent the way that we see fit. We are allowed to falter.

I have to remind myself of this often. On nights when my son won’t sleep. During periods when he won’t stop crying. The times I ask my fiancĂ© to take him so I can manage a 20 minute nap. We are allowed to feel scared, alone, and anxious. We are allowed to ask for help. We are allowed to have the knowledge that we cannot do everything. We are allowed to not be perfect.

My therapist told me today that we’d be working with a bowl full of marbles as an analogy of my mind at the moment. The bowl was me and the marbles were the problems that made up my issues. She said, “I am going to be straightforward with you through this process. There will be days when I tell you that this marble does not belong in your bowl, but your mothers, your fathers, your finance’s. You have enough in your bowl.” Was it wrong for me to doubt this?

I have spent so much of my life taking on other people’s problems that I have never believed my bowl could ever be full. When I became a mother I swore I didn’t want people to help me. I could do this, I could be the mother that some had doubted me to be. I would prove them wrong. That statement right there is the problem. “I would prove them wrong.” Why? Why did I need to prove anyone wrong? Why did I, someone who held so much strength and perseverance, need to prove the negative nannies wrong? Why did I need to justify anyone’s doubts in myself when I knew, deep in the back of my mind, that I could be an excellent mother, student, and anything else I chose to venture on?

I have been conditioned to being doubted. I have been conditioned to fight people’s doubts. I need to stop.

I realized if I had learned to let this go even a month ago I could have spoken to someone earlier. I could have let someone help me weeks ago. I could have caught how bad I had allowed myself to get.

But I needed to be this image of the perfect parent. I needed to be the young mother who could do it all by herself. I needed to be someone who did not exist.

People believed that because I was young I would fail as a parent. That my son would not have everything he needed in life to thrive. He was born with more gear than I myself have and by four months has more than doubled his weight. He has gone through medical issues and we have handled them to the best of our abilities- taking him to the doctors he has needed to go to and making sure he was taken care of. We have persevered, and honestly I believe we have done quite well. He is fed. He is clean. He is happy. And most of all he is loved.

So why did I still need to fight so hard to prove those who doubted us wrong?

I don’t know

But today I stopped. Today I took 45 minutes to speak to someone about my health. Today I gave my son the biggest blessing. Today I made sure his mommy can fully enjoy the rest of his first year.

My son is my biggest blessing. For being only 3.5 months old he has taught me more about self-love and acceptance than I have learned in my almost 22 years of living. My aunt once told me he was so lucky to have me as his mother, but truth is I’m tremendously blessed to have this beautiful boy as my son. Luca you give me the strength to fight through the unknown everyday. I do this all for you.

Momma’s we need to start giving each other a break. We need to understand that just because one mom does something different from you, this makes you no better than she is. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, cosleep, crib sleep, natural diapers, disposable, etc. We are no better than one another. One kid, two kids, three kids, more…we are all still learning something new every single day. We are not experts. Every child and every parent are different. We need to start uplifting one another instead of shaming one another. We are all just trying to produce good human beings and make it to the other side.

We just want them to be happy and loved.

I just want them to be happy and loved.

Today I’ve chosen to focus on making sure he’s happy and loved.

Hard Decisions. 

Why can we so clearly remember the negatives people have told us in our lives, but find it so hard to remember when people tell us positives? 

Is it because we when seonw doubts our abilities, or the way in which we see ourselves, we find it that much more important to prove them wrong? Or could it be that we fear their negative view may be be the truth? 

For me, I can remember many of the negative things I’ve been told compared to the positive. I recall before I got my license being told I’d never be a defensive driver and so I strived to be a driver that held confidence in an activity I once held so much fear for. I recall being told I was ugly and fat even when I thought myself pretty, and I strived to destroy the body they had told me was unworthy. Lastly, I recall with such clarity when someone told me my son would ruin my life, or that I’d never accomplish the goals I had set forth for myself before he was conceived.  I’ve spent every waking moment since trying to prove them wrong. 

I thought that my son would be just like any other baby. I believed he’d want to either sleep or eat for the majority of his first few weeks. He did not. He wanted to scream in agony for hours, feed until his mommy cried in pain, and sleep when his small body became so exhausted from the entire ordeal. My son was not like the babies I had been exposed to, the ones who had been praised for their sleeping skills, and well temperament. 

Weeks passed by, and though doctors tried to find the underlying cause of my little boys grief, they could not find a long lasting solution. During this time I was also going through trials within my mind of needing to return to school to get to vet school on time, to graduate college on time, to prove that having my miracle did not deter me from reaching my end goal. I worked myself to the bone to be able to be there for my sleep deprived infant while still maintaining my status as a student who had goals to achieve in a timely fashion. I would prove everyone who ever doubted me wrong, and I would come out victorious with my degree and a one year old at my hip on graduation letting the world knew I did it. 

But it wasn’t until I was rocking my little sleep fighter for the fourth time that evening, crying with him in frustration because he wouldn’t sleep from his painful gas, that I realized I was not thinking of him entirely. I was so focused on the negative perspective someone had placed upon me that I was not giving someone I had fought so hard for what he needed. It dawned on me that me stretching myself so thin was not good for neither myself or for my son. So I decided to change. 

I was currently taking my second class since my theee month old baby had been born- the first starting when he was only a mere six weeks old. I had gotten an exam back from a day after a night where I slept for maybe three hours. But wait- I am forgetting a very crucial part of this story. Bear with me. 

When Luca came home from the hospital he had gas that brought him to screams of agony. This of course made it very difficult for him and I to get any sleep. I also was new to breastfeeding, and because of the lack of educating I had done on the actual process (I had done PLENTY of research on milk supply though) it was a very rough start. I had been told he was starving, then he gained rapidly because he wanted to eat: All. The. Time. However we finally fell into a groove. We were then diagnosed with reflux and given Zantac. This worked for roughly a week or two. During this introduction of this medication Luca was also hospitalized for a cold with a fever of 101.7….but that’s a story for another day. When the Zantac became ineffective his dose was raised due to how weight sensitive the medication was. We thought we were on the mend once again, and soon we’d have a happy baby once again. 

We were wrong 

When he turned two months his body took a nose dive into giving my sweet boy constant pain. Either through the gas that threw him around all night long or through his favorite hobby: eating. He’d latch on to the breast, whimper to and scream, latch off while screaming, and finally scream& frantically search for the breast on repeat. We learned finally if we rocked while he ate it aided in the feedings, but did not aid in the spit up. 

We went through two straight weeks of screaming. Two straight weeks of agony, continuous calls to the doctor, and finally plenty and plenty of tears. I was growing increasingly anxious of bed time. Increasingly frustrated with my infant and those around me. I felt so lost. I began to question whether I was making this up in my mind or if he was truly as miserable as he seemed.  On top of it all we found out he had a severe lip & tongue tie. I just wanted my son to feel better. He was such a happy baby, but when it was bad….it was BAD. 

Finally we were referred to a GI specialist and we began trailing allergies. I had stppped dairy in thought that that was what was causing my child’s pain, but this was not the case. On our first try we switched to Nexium, a new probiotic, and kept the same diet. Two weeks later and my child was a miserable, much more pained baby. We went back to Zantac, eliminated beef, soy and dairy, and also were scheduled for an ultrasound. This momma hadn’t slept in a month and her baby was in agony. So when the ultrasound tech said to not feed for four hours she wanted to cry. He also had been running a low grade fever for over a week that the doctors kept saying was viral. But at some point a mother has to trust her intuition, right? 

So on to this afternoon, the day after the last GI appointment. I kissed my sweet boy goodbye after checking him to have a low grade fever AGAIN. The entire ride to school I cried. I cried for leaving my sweet angel again, I cried knowing the road his father and grandmother had this evening in putting him to sleep, I cried because I was trying so hard to prove I was strong enough to handle being a mother and continuing my education on time that I was not with my child. I was not there through this period because I was trying to be someone I needed to kiss goodbye. 

I was no longer just Bianca the college student. I was now Bianca the mother who was still attending college. I decided in that moment that I needed to put my son first. I needed to be there 100% and I needed to be the mother this baby needed. I needed to stop putting such unnecessary stress on myself for needing to finish something in a timely manner when I still had so much time left. I needed to stop adhering to the negative perspective someone had placed upon me. I needed to stop giving this negative notion that having this baby ruined my chances of being a vet power. 

So vet school is now planned for the fall of 2019. I walked out of my second summer class because I could not mentally handle not being there for my baby through this troubling time. I chose to be his mommy before an identity I had been for so long. I chose to embrace my new identity instead of hide behind my old in fear I’d fail the new. He needs me and nonnegative perspective will change this. I went back once and I will be the girl I dream to be. 

I will be going back in August to finish my degree, but as for grad school? That will wait one more year. One more year to better prepare for myself for the exam I must take for entry. One more year to get myself back on track mentally. One more year to enjoy my little human and make sure he isn’t suffering as he is now. I know I’ll never be okay with leaving him, but I know that when he isn’t having such a hard time it won’t absolutely kill me everyday to say goodbye. 

I’ve realized life doesn’t always pan out the way you think it will. Maybe that should have clicked long before with everything I went through, but at least it finally settled into my mind. For now I will make sure to do the best work at this job as his mother. He will always come first, no matter who I think I need to prove wrong. In the end, being called a mother is the best positive perspective I will ever want to remember being called. 

Lonely

Is it wrong to feel lonely when you’ve just given birth to a tiny little human? 

Is it wrong to look at your sleeping partner while you’re consoling your upset infant that, if not for your nudge, would not have even known the baby was awake at all? 

Is it wrong to resent those around you that can sleep, even when the baby is asleep, because you sit there and worry about him even when he’s fine? 

Is it wrong to feel alone even when those around you are doing all that they can? 

We don’t talk about postpartum depression or anxiety much in the United States. Sure, there are plenty of celebrities now that are advocating it on websites and news articles, but what about mothers who don’t make millions of dollars making movies? What about mothers who live average every day lives that don’t see the spotlight? The mothers who just try to make it day by day. 

When I first brought Luca home I panicked. He didn’t sleep (like the lie I was told that all newborns do), he couldn’t be consoled, and all he wanted was to be latched on to my pained boobs all day long. No one told me that it would be possible to look at my child and ask myself what had I been thinking? Or to lash out at those around me because I was dealing with anger within myself for even thinking that thought. Or that just because I could cry from pure adoration from my new blessing, I could still also cry from pure fear and momentary regret for my new responsibility. We just don’t talk about it. 

Mothering has become this competition that I was unaware I’d signed up. Natural birth vs C-section. Home vs hospital. Breastfed vs formula fed. Cloth diapers vs disposable. And you know what? EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION. Join one mom group and I assure you there will be a mother that thinks she is doing everything 100% perfect and hers is the best method so everyone should follow suit. But mothering isn’t perfect. Raising a baby isn’t perfect. If it was we would have nothing to learn from , and therefore make better. There is a reason they say the first baby is your guinea pig. 

However, I digress. Postpartum depression and anxiety are real and we need to stop treating them like they are a failure on the mother. It is a literal chemical imbalance taking place within her brain due to a lack in progesterone. (I learned that from a lovely college class called Reproductive Physiology. My favorite class at UCONN- so hello Dr.Milvae who I hope never reads my blog…..again digression). Moms it’s okay to be afraid and it’s okay to wonder if you’re doing the right thing. It’s not okay to ignore how you feel.

We need to stop treating postpartum depression like the plague, and we need to stop treating moms like they’re bad parents because they get it. Raising a newborn is hard. They don’t sleep, they want to constantly eat, and though they will bring the greatest joy in the world they will also turn your life upside down in ways you could never imagine. I love my beautiful boy, and i would go through my tough pregnancy all over again in a heartbeat, but I’d be lying if I said I’m okay every day. Some days I want to crawl into a hole. Some days I want to yell at everyone around me because I’m tired and jealous that they can sleep when I cannot. Some days I want to throw my computer out the window if I see one more article on SIDS that gives more anxiety to someone who already has it. AND THATS OKAY. 

It’s okay because these days are minimal compared to the days I watch my baby smile. They’re minimal compared to the days I’m filled to the brim with love and adoration for my small creation. They’re minimal compared to the days where I gush when someone in the supermarket or the park tells me how gorgeous he is and I feel like the proudest woman in the world. And they’re minimal compared to the days where I thank god that he entrusted me with my son, because he’s saved me in more ways than I can count. 

So, again I say, it is okay to feel like you just need a break. It’s okay to feel like you want to crawl out of your skin. It’s okay to want to go back to your old life sometimes. And it’s okay to feel lonely even when you’re not. What’s not okay is ignoring these feelings. 

You’re not a failure. 

You’re not a bad mom. 

You’re human. 

We love these babies so much that sometimes we forget that to be the best moms we must also love ourselves. 

Love yourself today, and every day there after. 

Rubberband

I once stood on a scale in a doctors office when I was seventeen years old and had it read 402lbs. A couple weeks later after exercising and trying to decrease my food intake I watched as the scale read 406lbs. That was the day I refused to step back into a scale. 

I had always been a chubby child that stood out as the largest child in their class. I had always been the child that was consistently teased and made fun of simply because I was heavier than everyone else. It was my life, and though I cried every day from the comments and torture, I learned to deal with it. Because that’s what I had to do to keep myself going. 

When I was fifteen i spent a lot of time in chat rooms meeting strangers on the internet. It was the only place I felt safe to talk to people. They could not see me and I was under no obligation to show them what I looked like. I met a boy online one night that would later become someone I would consider a very good friend. This boy had a secret that he didn’t want to be a boy any longer. He had been born a male that should have been born a female, and like myself, used the internet as a platform to speak to people without having to show himself. He disappeared one day. I had grown so fond of talking to him that i reverse searched him on Facebook. I messaged them, “Thanks for just ignoring me. It was nice talking to you, I guess.” The person messaged back and asked who I was. They had no idea who I, a girl who had been talking to a person with this exact name, was. I’d been catfished. I began to talk to this boy more about the incident at hand, and through this we became friends who could talk freely with one another. We found we have many things in common like our anxiety and some medical issues we had overcome in our short years of living. One day he confided in me the same secret his catfish had. I made it my job to make him feel comfortable in his own skin, a job I could not do for myself. I bought him clothes, took a sixteen hour drive to see him, all to just be the girl that once again did everything for everyone with nothing in return. My emotions had been played with, and I remember one night crying for hours because he was ignoring me. And I felt alone. I had such limited friends and he made me feel so special and important. I was just a pawn. I needed someone to love me, even if it was for personal gain, because I lacked the ability to love myself. 

When I was sixteen I met a boy on the internet. He would call me every day and we would text whenever our voices were apart. He knew what I looked like from my profile pictures but because it’s so easy to fool your image on the internet he did not know what I truly looked like til the night we finally skyped. I had grown quite fond of him but had always been so afraid to speak with him on a webcam where he could see my face. The night we Skyped his image went fuzzy and he disconnected. When I tried to call back he did not answer. I texted him and asked him what happened  and he replied that he just didn’t want to speak at the moment. I knew why, and so I simply wrote “It’s because I’m too fat, isn’t it?” He replied, “Yeah.” And that was the last we ever spoke. 

When I was seventeen I met a boy through a girl from my high school that didn’t really look at my weight, my mental health, or my overall appearance. He looked at the person inside instead of the oversized baggage I was trapped inside. The first day we met we spoke of his love for the career he wished to pursue and he showed me that a pair of scissors that EMT’s work with could cut a quarter. A few days later he bought me dinner at a hibachi place, though I took most of it home because eating in front of people was such a fear that i only took one or two bites. We became an official couple three days later. He showed me how to love myself. He never ignored a chance to stop my self shaming, he never ignored a chance to call me beautiful even when I felt putrid, and he never ignored a chance to remind me that I had to learn to love the person I hated so much. He held my hand at 406lbs and he held my hand when I reached my lowest of 195lbs. He held my hand when I cried in his car about the grandparents I lost, and he held my hand when I gave birth to our son this past April. He also held my hand when I made a decision about the thing I hated most about myself: my weight. 

In December of 2014 I made the decision to have weight loss surgery. I went in on December 17th very early in the morning to have about 75% of my stomach removed, only a pouch the size of a banana remaining. I remembered thinking to myself “this is if, I’m going to finally feel beautiful.” The weight shed off my body and at my year mark I had gone from my large 406lb self to a slim, 195. And yet still when I looked into the mirror i still saw my 400+ lb person. 

I accomplished losing over 200lbs and I still hate my body. 

I’ve kept most of the weight off for almost three years and I still hate my body. 

I’ve given birth to a beautiful baby and I still hate my body. 

I look in the mirror and all I see is excess skin that my major weight loss did. I’m still reminded everyday of torture I had put my body through. I still hate my body. 

I hate my body because I still haven’t learned to love myself. 

Loving myself is the hardest thing I NEED to learn to do. 

I will learn to love myself. 

I will learn to love myself because if I have a daughter I want her to love herself. 

I will learn to love myself because I need to stop hating the image in the mirror. 

I will learn to love myself because that is the only way life will become truly enjoyable. 

And I will learn to love myself because I need to see myself the way others see me. 

I’m loved by so many and need to stop hating a person so many care so deeply for. 

I need to stop hating the person my son loves. 

I need to stop hating the person he smiles and giggles at. 

I need to stop hating the mom he cries for when she’s not there. 

I will stop hating myself, if not for me, for him. 

Anthony started putting my broken pieces back together when we first met, but my son was the glue that was missing to keep the pieces together. 

We need to learn to love ourselves because even if we don’t see it, and even if we don’t believe it, we are perfect just the way we are. We fight so hard to fit a societal standard of appearance, or the appearance of someone else, that we forget we are our own person. I will be the first to admit I get jealous when someone thinner than me looks good in something I would feel horrible in, but I still have to remember that I am perfect just the way I am. 

Believe in yourself and learn to love yourself. 

I will be along on this journey as well.