as i write this, it’s 4:56am and i’m sitting up in bed holding the baby while he sleep-farts, because apparently he can’t sleep-fart in the comfort of his own bed. Mister Man is away on his first work trip since William was born and i’m coming off a day of both kids conspiring to make me insane.
and here’s the part where i’m supposed to say, “but even through my bleary eyed exhaustion, i know these are the moments i’ll miss when my babies are grown. babies don’t keep, so i’ll hug mine a little tighter and appreciate every moment.”
except i’m not going to say any of that because it’s total bullshit.
when my babies aren’t babies anymore, you know what i’ll miss? snuggling them while feeding, their sweet little coos, watching them find their hands for the first time. those moments are the ones i’ll want do-overs for. but i don’t have to miss every moment that happens with them. i don’t have to wax poetic about everything.
now that Amelia is in full toddler mode, i can look at her and see what parts i wish she’d keep from her babyhood. want to know what isn’t on that list? being awake with her at all hours because of her teeth or her gas. changing her exploding diapers or getting pooped on by surprise. the witching hours. all these things are normal and expected with a baby. does that mean they need to be savored? i don’t think so.
so do i look at my sweet boy’s face to make me feel better as i sit here watching sleep pass me by for another night? of course. do i appreciate this moment? nope.
and that’s okay.
ask any parent if their children make them happy every single moment of every single day. unless they’re dirty liars, they’ll tell you that would be impossible. no matter what age they are, our children are human, and are going to do things that make us crazy. but the wonderfully magic gift that motherhood gives me is the ability to love and adore and be thankful for my babies at all times even if i don’t appreciate each and every thing they do.
so to the new mom who hears everyone say, “soak in every moment, you won’t get it back”, just know that you are still a good mom even if you don’t soak them in. you’re still a good mom if you want to fast forward through the wake ups and the crying jags and the blowouts. it’s not all flowers and unicorns and rainbows and you don’t need to pretend that it is just because people tell you that you should.
hey mamas! did you laugh at the title of this post? i thought maybe you would. because obviously the word comfortable should be in big, giant quotation marks. it’s wishful thinking to say that you can make your ENTIRE pregnancy comfortable (although mine was pretty awesome), so this is about doing what you can to make it “as comfortable as possible”.
1) get a pregnancy/body pillow
i’ve written about my snooglebefore, but it bears repeating: i don’t care if you think you will be able to sleep the same during pregnancy as before, a pregnancy pillow is worth investing in. before getting pregnant, i was able to sleep through anything. i was so sure that this would carry over into pregnancy, or at least keep me sleeping better until later in the pregnancy. and then right away in the first trimester, i just found that i wasn’t sleeping as well as i used to.
so i went straight to amazon and bought that snoogle, and haven’t looked back since. it props your back up if you have to sleep on your side, it supports your knees, and it keeps all of you propped up (including belly) when you get further into your third trimester. sleep is so important when you’re pregnant, so try to find any way you can to get it while you can.
2) figure out how you’re going to stay active
i can’t tell you how much i hated when people told me how important it was to stay active because of how much faster i would “bounce back” after having the baby. okay, seriously, shut up. that might be a great motivator for a lot of people, but for me, i don’t care how i look, so the bounce back reason just made me mad because it sounds so selfish.
what i will preach until i’m blue in the face is how important it is to stay active for the purpose of keeping your body strong throughout the whole pregnancy and ready for delivering your baby. your body works so hard during your whole pregnancy and is shifting around so much, that without some conditioning you’re going to feel it happening more and earlier. i made it to 35 weeks completely ache-free, and i credit that entirely to the fact that i stayed active by doing prenatal workout dvds, walking and stretching. i KNOW that i would have been in more pain sooner had i not been diligent with staying active. it doesn’t matter what you do, but figure out what’s going to work for you!
3) make a plan for if you get really uncomfortable
as i said above, i made it to 35 weeks ache-free, but when my muscles went, oh boy they went good. between 35 and 36 weeks, my left hip got some sort of crazy muscle spasm/knot, and walking became a real issue. as in, i was limping everywhere if i had to walk. not waddling, i was limping because of the physical pain i was in. and that was tough for me, because up to that point, i had felt so strong. so i decided that i need to try to do something about it.
the first step was ordering a backpack to replace my work bag, to even out the weight of carrying everything on one side. the next step was making a visit to the chiropractor to make sure everything was aligning correctly, because early on in the pregnancy i had decided that was going to be my way of treating any discomfort i felt over the next 9 months. for you it might be acupuncture or a chiropractor, prenatal massage or regular pedicures. it doesn’t matter what it is for you, but have a plan in place before you need it.
4) invest in epsom salts/heating pads/ice packs
epsom salt baths are the best things in the whole wide world if you’re feeling a little sore or achy. heating pads and ice packs (especially at night) are a close second and third. knowing that there are things you can do to make yourself more comfortable is such a comfort in itself. sometimes it seems silly to be doing all the self-care, especially if you feel like you are in strong warrior mama mode and like you should be invincible, but it is so important. invest in the things that will bring you physical comfort, and invest in the time it takes to do those things for yourself.
5) put your feet up – literally
until my eight month of pregnancy, i had always thought of the phrase, “relax and put your feet up” as more of a metaphor. and then i started to get swollen feet, and started to literally put my feet up. and that was a life-changer, let me tell you! it’s such a good way to alleviate a sore back, sore hips, sore thighs, and the swollen feet (especially in the summer!). for swollen feet, i also highly recommend drawing the letters of the alphabet with your feet a couple times a day to increase circulation and decrease the swelling a bit.
6) be okay with slowing down
if you’re anything like me, this will be the hardest thing for you to do. i wanted to be able to keep cooking dinner every night, and doing the dishes, and helping with my share around the house, and i had to listen to my body and my husband and ease up a little bit. because for the last month of pregnancy i couldn’t keep going at the speed that i had been able to go at the rest of the pregnancy. and to get my brain around that fact took some doing. but it was such a good decision, and it was okay. of course it was okay! because the world will keep on turning even if you can’t do as much.
7) don’t complain
this might make some people annoyed with me, but i believe that if you focus on what’s unpleasant in the process of pregnancy, then you are in for a long nine months my friend. i had a great pregnancy, but there are going to be discomforts along the way for everyone, in some way or another. and that’s normal. so the fact is, we might as well focus on the good and ignore the bad, because focusing on the bad just brings it right in front of you at all times and that’s not going to help in any way. but focusing on the good, that will help you get your perspective in the right place, and it will make your experience so much more pleasant than the alternative.
8) have a husband who is amazing in every way
this is the one thing that i can’t give you by recommendation or advice. you have to be lucky enough to have a husband like mine, who will help you and take care of you and tell you it’s okay that you don’t feel great all the time. my husband has continued to amaze me time and again with his ability to take on more than his share, and his willingness to make sure i’m feeling the best i can feel. there is no substitute for the wonderful support of your partner in the journey, there just isn’t. (if you don’t have that in a husband, find it in a partner or a friend or a family member. find someone to take care of you, because it will change your whole experience.)
i hope this is helpful and gives some good ideas to any mamas out there who might be desperate for ONE new idea on how to take care of themselves when this journey gets tough.
i want to take a moment before getting into this to say thank you to my little sisters for being twins, which allowed me to see three sisters graduate this spring, but only required me to sit through two ceremonies. that’s some math i can get behind. you guys are the best!
but this post is dedicated to all three of you sisters. i’m so proud of you for your accomplishments so far, and i cannot wait to see what the next chapters of your lives will bring. big things ahead for you girls!
it’s graduation season! and with graduation season comes a lot of very overwhelmed 18 and 22-year olds, looking for their place in the world. and that’s a scary place to be. starting college or work or looking for what’s next is an uncomfortable feeling for most people. i know every time i come to a crossroads in my life (and it happens often, no matter how long you’ve been out of school), i get a bit of an anxious feeling, because even though crossroads are exciting, the unknown can be terrifying.
i was lucky when i graduated to have a job that i liked, working for a company that i loved. i still work there today if that’s any indication of the awesome hand i was dealt. but even with that, i was still unsure of what life was going to look like going forward. i was used to class, and friends around 24-7, and lots and lots of free time. and i was good with that. it was an equation i understood. i had no idea what to expect as a graduate, and the advice people give you often has more to do with how to start your career than how to start your life (and those are two very different things, from someone who has been there). so here’s the advice i wish i had been given for entering my real life.
(this is literally the only graduation photo i could find…maybe the rest are hard copy, and who knows where they are? hi luke!)
1. you will need to schedule time with your friends.
in high school and college, you’re with your friends all.the.time. you don’t have to worry about when you’ll see them next, because you have class with them/live with them/party with them. it’s a non-issue. and then all of a sudden, you graduate. and some people move home, some move closer to their jobs, and some seem to drop off the face of the earth. a big lesson for me was that scheduling time with people is a new reality. and it may take some people longer than others to realize they have to pick up the phone every once in a while if the friendship is going to continue. so be patient, keep trying to get something planned, and remember that just because you aren’t seeing people more than once a week, doesn’t mean they like you any less. it’s just an adjustment period.
2. it’s okay to live like you’re still on a college budget.
in fact, i highly recommend living on a college budget even if you are getting a paycheck that has bigger numbers on it than you’ve ever seen on a single check before. you get accustomed to your new income really quickly, so the longer you can put off living up to your means, the more you can save, and the longer you can stay content with your newfound income. there is nothing wrong with still eating macaroni and cheese a few meals a week, and bringing your own lunch to work with you. i still bring my own lunch, and ride the bus, and make my own coffee in the morning, and i’ve been graduated for four years. but it’s allowed me to save more money than i ever imagined i would be able to, and i’m thankful every day that i’ve done it.
3. you will feel like you have no time to yourself.
your schedule will most likely look like this: wake up, go to work, come home, (sometimes) go to the gym, eat dinner, get ready for the next day, get ready for bed, go to sleep. at first you will feel exhausted and like you have no life, because work has left you no time for one. but don’t worry, because slowly but surely you will get used to it. it will not feel like school at all, but that’s okay, because it’s not. and it will become normal, and you will start to feel like you have a life again. just hold on for when you get that feeling back. it will happen, i promise.
4. don’t worry about a few months without a “real” job.
i wonder a lot what my life would look like if i had been brave enough to graduate without a job lined up. would i have taken a year off to travel abroad again? would i have volunteered, would i have gone on a long-term mission trip? would i have been an awesome waitress and raked in some serious cash while i looked for a job? maybe. and those are all amazing options. i was lucky to have a job the year i graduated, because many peers didn’t, but not having a job at graduation is in no way indicative of future success or failure. you can do a lot of living in the year after graduation, and not being employed right away may lead you to a path you never imagined. it might be exactly what is supposed to be happening to you during this season of your life. (in truth, i probably wouldn’t be married to my husband right now if i had been on a different/unemployed path, and since i strongly believe in “everything happens for a reason”, i was supposed to have my job when i did. but it’s fun to imagine sometimes.)
5. things will change, and that’s okay.
self-explanatory. your friends will change. your schedule will change. you will change. it will feel really gross and weird at first. but then, just like when you started high school or college, you will get used to the changes. and they will make you grow as a person, and move you forward in life. and that is a good thing.
congrats to all of you graduates, whether from high school, college, or graduate school. even though the ceremonies are terrible to sit through, you just did a pretty awesome thing. be proud of yourselves, and don’t be afraid of the path ahead. it will be amazing.
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