Confessions from the first month with two littles…

We have officially reached the one month mark in this house with two littles and it has been nothing short of interesting. After what seemed like a ridiculously long pregnancy and a million false alarms, we welcomed baby Maeve into our family on Friday morning August 4th.  I am a little bias, but isn’t she gorgeous?! I was positive I had to be hallucinating when I saw that hair.

     I will be honest, I did not have a hard time transitioning into parenthood with our first babe.  Sure, I had the typical first time worry and nervousness, but overall I felt so confident and happy those first few weeks.  Going from 1 to 2 children has been a different story.

Shain did not have much time at home this go around and he had to leave for a work trip when Maeve was just a week old. This left me feeling really overwhelmed and pretty isolated as I tried to figure out how to manage a suddenly emotional toddler and a newborn on my own…not to mention I did not feel emotionally stable either. I actually think my 1.5 year old and I were on the same emotional plane for a bit, you know the one where you are crying about absolutely nothing?  Yeah, that one.

I do want to share a few moments from the first two weeks, just because it was so ridiculous/hilarious/stressful/awesome.

Day 1:

Shain brought big sister Rocklyn to the hospital to meet Maeve.  She immediately wanted to touch her nose, eyes, talk to her, even gave her a kiss on the forehead unprompted. However, that sweet moment quickly vanished as she then became very emotional, throwing a tantrum in the hospital room and wanted to leave, repeating “no like it, no like it!”.  Our family laughed that she was referring to her new sister, but I think she was just a little overwhelmed by the environment of the hospital.  Even though it was a funny moment, part of me felt really heartbroken that Rocklyn might have some trouble adjusting to this change.  Insert mom guilt.  People warned me about that.

Day 2:

We got to go home, hooray!  Here is our less than perfect (yet perfect)  family of four picture leaving the hospital with yet again, the emotional roller coaster that is a 1.5 year old.  In this particular picture, she was upset that she could not run up and down the halls. Typical.

On the drive home, Rocklyn kept talking to Maeve and looking at her saying, “Hi baby, your’e OK.  What doing?”  Ahh, there is my sweet girl.  She will come and go a bit as it turns out the next few weeks…and maybe until she is in college.

Day 4:

Up until this day, Maeve had not made much of a peep or cry so we were all like, “sweet, another chill baby! Lucky us!”.  Then I took her to her follow up doctor appointment and she WAILED the whole drive there, apparently both my kids hate the car, thumbs up.  I am certain this is also the day she learned what crying was, and let’s just say has put it to very good practice since.  This girl can really belt it out, let me tell you. There are times I am certain she is damaging her vocal cords.

Day 6:  

Shain went back to work and all the emotions set in. Can I handle two kiddos?  Of course I can. My body was not feeling very recovered yet, so chasing around Rocklyn was not the easiest.  I was feeling really sad/overwhelmed/anxious about him going back to work already and even more so anticipating him leaving for his work trip that next week.

What did not help was that this particular day, every time I nursed, Rocklyn would have a meltdown.  Which was a lot, because Maeve was nursing constantly at this point. One moment, she even cried so hard she made herself puke, which was a first.  So that was awesome. That has since gotten better, thankfully. Otherwise Rocklyn is very much obsessed with Maeve and loves to constantly be around her…and also loves to wake her up from her slumber by shouting, “HI BABY!!!!!”, inches away from her face.  Sigh.

 

Day 7: 

My mom came over to help, thank GOD.  I took Rocklyn to the park that morning for an hour, just her and I.  This seemed to help her mood be a little more stable the rest of the day, so I made a note that I need to be sure to do that more often to fill up her emotional bucket.  Things were going smoothly until one moment I was tending to Maeve and Rocklyn managed to have her first ever pooplosion that required a mop to clean up off the floor, an immediate bath, and a disposal of the clothes she was wearing. Another first, awesome.

Day 10:

Shain left for his work trip.  Here we go. I cried a lot and felt way too sorry for myself. I also realized at about 9pm once I made it through bath/bedtime/newborn witching hour on my own (which of course all happen at the same time you know) that all I had to eat that day was a half eaten chicken nugget, coffee, and a granola bar. Yikes.

Day 13:

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror this day and could not help but laugh.  I also realized in this moment I had not actually LOOKED in the mirror at myself for maybe a whole week- WOOF.  Hot mess express.  I ALSO accidentally put body wash in my hair instead of shampoo for the THIRD time. Officially losing it.  But hey at least I have been getting in the shower!  Maeve loves the sound of running water it turns out, which is good motivation to put her in her bouncy chair in the bathroom while I spend a few minutes feeling like a real human.

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I am happy to report, things have not been AS crazy as they were those first few weeks. I am finding my groove and gaining more confidence day by day on managing this chaos.  Unfortunately, we are gearing up for Shain to be gone again for a few weeks so I am starting to feel a little more anxious/sad again, but thankfully I have started the process of getting Maeve on a routine and figuring out her patterns.  This is making her a happier baby and me a happier mama. I love me a good routine.  We are getting there! Truly blessed in the mess over here 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change is Hard, Change is Good.

One year ago, I took a bit of a leap of faith.  Not a huge one, people change jobs all the time after all, but it can be a scary change none the less. I left a place where I started my career in higher education fresh out of college, a place that taught me so much as a professional and that truly felt like home for the 8 years I spent there. Although about 6.5 years in, I started to feel a bit restless and in need of a change. I ignored those feelings for quite some time because of my love for the institution I worked for and because of the staff I was blessed to work with. I had opportunities for growth coming my way, I had a solid salary, great benefits, a good relationship with my boss, close proximity to home…I would be crazy to leave that, right?

Fast forward to December 2015 when I had my first child and like most children do…she changed everything. When I went back to work after 3 months of maternity leave, I struggled HARD. I struggled to be the employee I wanted to be and that my school deserved/needed… and being the Mom I wanted to be and that my daughter deserved/needed. So on top of the restless feelings I had been having for some time professionally, there was now mom guilt, total exhaustion, and the constant in-ability to balance the two worlds of work and parenthood successfully.  There were lots of tears and breakdowns, let me tell you.

I was very open about this struggle with my boss and he immediately assured me that I was still very much valued and he also offered me flexibility in my hours, which I was so incredibly thankful for.  However, it just brought more guilt.  I didn’t want to take advantage of our office or of other employees as I worked through this new transition as a working mom.  I didn’t feel that it was right or fair to my colleagues who also perhaps were having the same balancing struggles as I was.  What I  DID feel was right was a change, it was time.  I knew there had to be an alternative to allow me to continue my career in higher education/college admission, but have a better balance at home.  So I began my search.

I was lucky enough to have a few offers in this process and landed my current role as the Assistant Director of Admission for University of Colorado Boulder.  A role in which I am still in the same field, but work fully from home.

As I look back on this past year and reflect, I am so thankful I made this decision.  It was so terrifying at first and I was certainly met with some challenges and uncertainty in the process, but it has given me exactly what I need at this time in my life.  A new challenge professionally and more of a presence at home.  Don’t be fooled, I still work just as many hours as I did in my office job, sometimes even more, but there are little things that make it more manageable.  I can throw a load of laundry in anytime through the day, walk up from my home office in the basement and steal some kisses/snuggles or eat lunch with my daughter and I don’t have to account for commute time in my day very often.  For the majority of the year, I do not have to rush out of the house to get ready and coordinate drop offs or pick ups, which allow for relaxed mornings with my girl. It is still very much a juggling act to be a working mom, especially during the recruiting seasons of fall and spring, but overall I feel much more balanced. Overall, I feel I am able to be both a productive and valuable employee and a present Mom. This to me, is clutch.

There have most certainly been challenges with this new role, most of which I expected.  For one, working from home can be really lonely and isolating, which has been hard mentally/emotionally as I am by nature a social person.  So I do need to be better about getting out a little more.  Also, the boundary of work-life is kind of non-existent now that I work from home because I am able to constantly jump back and forth easily to each one.  Once Rocklyn is down for bed at night or if I am up extra early, I still tend to check in to emails and work on some things.  To be honest though, that in particular doesn’t really bother me because I actually like being able to have the flexibility to do that, but it DOES make it hard to “shut it off” and enjoy “home” fully at times.

The busy season of admission, is not just busy…it is total insanity. So, that has not changed. It makes it even harder that these are the same times of year my husband is very busy and traveling. As we approach having baby #2 soon, it will be interesting to see how that juggle continues during those particular seasons.  But for now, looking back, I have no regrets.  Again, not only does it give me the balance I needed but it also has given me strength and courage to know I have control over how I want my life to look like and I do NOT have to settle.  I think we often forget that we have the authority to change our situation when it does not work for us.  I am not saying that changing is easy, it is usually not, but it is always possible.  I hope if you are in a situation or work environment that does not suit you or fulfill you, you take the reigns and change it.  We only get one life, one chance to be with family, to raise our kids, to make our time count.  Do what works for YOU and forget about anybody else.

Stay blessed in the MESS!

 

Bottle to Sippy Cup Transition

I had heard from other mom friends that the transition from bottles to sippy cups could be a tricky one.  So, I tried to get ahead of the game and introduced a sippy cup with a straw to Rocklyn just for water when she was about 6 months old. She barely drank out of it at first but would just gnaw on the straw, play with it, then after about a month she figured out she could get water out of it and actually started using it. Before long she was sucking down water like a champ with her food. I gave my self a high five and thought, “great, when it is time for milk this will be easy peasy!”.  Not exactly.

Admittedly, I had a hard time making the decision to take the bottle away from her.  Mostly because I was being a sap about it. But Alas, I knew after her first birthday we had to get down to business.  So again, I figured I would just put milk into her usual water cup and we would be all good.  However, anytime I would put milk in the cup, she would push it away or throw it.  As if she was like, “um mom, milk doesn’t go in there that is for water only, duh”. I ended up buying a different sippy cup that also had a straw so as to separate the idea of water and milk for her.  So,  the one I ended up committing to for milk was this one:

Philips Avent My Twist N Sip Straw Cup, 12 Ounce, Pink/Purple/Green, Stage 3

At this point, she was only getting milk 2-3 times a day, therefore it was no longer her sole nutrition.  This was a good thing because when we took the bottle out cold turkey, she went from drinking about 15 oz a day to maybe 6oz.  She would take a couple sips and then throw it down.  But I would never swoop in with the bottle, we just kept trying and kept offering it to her.  I would say it took her about a week before she started taking all the milk out of the sippy cup. So, the first few days I was indeed a little panicked, but I was also more sad. I could tell she really wanted her bottle and was getting frustrated and that made me feel so bad.  But again, after a week she seemed to care less, I was just being a sap.

I have learned over the years of watching other people’s kiddos and now raising my own that consistency is key for all ages.  Especially when it is time to change something up or enforce a new behavior.  Giving in can take you a million steps backwards and these little buggers know how to play you!   I am pretty sure no adult has ever brought up in counseling how traumatized they were when their parents took away their bottle or pacifier, yet doesn’t it feel like that is what we are doing to them when we go through a change?  As it turns out, it is harder for us than it is for them, almost always.

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See picture above with my happy child drinking her morning milk out of her sippy cup.  Bottle?  What is a bottle?

My Breastfeeding Journey

Oh, breastfeeding.  The topic that seems to have been quite the “rage” if you have become a mom in recent years. I really do think it is so fantastic that normalizing breastfeeding has become such a big thing after it seemed to take a little bit of a hiatus. However, I also think sometimes it can be a little too much in our face.  One more thing for Moms to feel guilty about or pressured to do, because let’s get real for a minute here..breastfeeding is natural yes, but it is not easy. At least, that was not my journey.

There are three things that as a Mom I am very OCD and particular about.  Sleep training & schedules/routines being two of them…solid nutrition is the other. SO, that being said, breastfeeding was something that I knew I wanted to do if I was able.

I did not have supply issues.  Rocklyn did not have latching issues. It was pretty smooth from the get-go in that regard.  But I DID have weird anxiety issues.  I dreaded every time I had to nurse and to be honest I really could not tell you why.  I did not feel comfortable doing it in public as my milk tended to spray and make a mess everywhere, I would barely even feed in front of my husband at home.  During almost every single feeding I would take my daughter into the nursery to feed in private and I put music on every time to calm my nerves.  I knew that if she felt me being nervous, she would be nervous so I worked very hard to real that in.

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When she was two weeks old, we introduced a bottle at night.  This was my chance to pump a bottle and get to bed early so that my husband could stay up later with her and give her the last feeding.   Once we got in this routine, I always got a head start on sleep which worked out GREAT in those early weeks.  During that week in particular she did have a little confusion between nursing and bottles, but it passed pretty quickly and she was able to bounce back and forth as needed.

However,  when she was around 8 weeks old, we accidentally used a fast flow nipple on one of her bottles for a few days instead of the natural flow we had been using.  That week she fought me HARD for the first time when nursing and wanted nothing to do with me.  My assumption is that she got a little spoiled with the fast flow milk and did not like the slower pace of the milk coming from me.  So, at this point, I talked to a lactation consultant who recommended doing no bottle for 3 days to get her back on track. However, after really thinking about it, I decided to use this as my out and switched to exclusively pumping. Meaning, she would still be getting 100% breast milk, but it would be all through bottles and no nursing.  I won’t lie, this was actually a huge relief for me as I mentioned, I just did not like nursing.  I was a little sad when I nursed her the last time, knowing we would make the switch, but most of me was really relieved.  The first few weeks of pumping exclusively was great, it took a little juggling but I really felt so much better and less stressed  and anxious.  Then I went back to work.  OOOF.

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Once I went back to work, it took much longer for me to pump my milk since I was away from her all day, this is apparently normal.  When at home, I would pump 15-20 minutes and get 8-12 oz at a time.  Once I went back to work, it took me 45-60 minutes to pump the same amount. I rarely would take a lunch because of all the time I had to pump, and it was really stressful to find a place to go at work not to mention trying to fit it in between meetings.  My boss and other co-workers were very supportive, but it still stressed me out.  I also pumped on my drive to work and on the way home every day to free up time, which was a lifesaver.  In the morning since I would still workout at 5am, I would get up at 3:30am to get my hour long pump in BEFORE the gym, otherwise I would be too uncomfortable. It was so much work and I felt like a slave to that machine. It truly owned me. I tried to be as positive as I could while pumping and use the time to read, journal, etc. But man, spending 5 hours a day attached to a milk machine, just drives you insane sometimes. I had to miss out on a lot of things because of my pump schedule, and it certainly made doing fun things on the weekend difficult too.

I really wanted to have Rocklyn get breast milk for a full year, it was really important to me.  Luckily, I did have good enough supply to create a little stash but around the 8 month mark, I just had had it.  I wanted my life back.  When I did the math, I had about 3 months of milk stored in our freezer for her, which meant that she would need to switch to regular milk earlier or get formula during her 11th month.  I decided it was worth it and pulled the plug…literally.

My husband would tell you that the week I stopped pumping was the week I went back to my “normal self” again. I was less stressed, less irritated by him (I held some resentment issues for having to be the one to do all this at times) more rested and just had so much more freedom. It was awesome.  However, I did of course still have guilt for quitting early. I really was hard on myself for  not trying to push another month.  Especially because Rocklyn only ended up needing formula for 2 weeks before we switched to regular milk.  Really Jill, you couldn’t have done TWO MORE weeks of pumping after doing it for 8 months?  But to be honest, I really don’t think I could have!  The day I decided I was done, I was really at my limit.

There are very few things I am nervous about with bringing baby number #2 into our house but entering into this journey again is one of them.  Maybe I can try to enjoy it a little more this time around and nurse longer, the fact that I work from home now will certainly make things a little easier, but it will still  be a bit of a juggling act with a toddler running around.   We will see how it goes, send me your good vibes 😉

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Baby Schedules & Sleeping

Call me crazy, but I value sleep.  I also value routines, they make me happy, they make me feel secure and in control.  So when having my first baby, I knew that this was something that was going to be really important for me as a parent. I ALSO knew that the routines I hoped for might not work out, so I did have an open mind… but I was sure as heck going to try 🙂

People often say to me things like “Oh you are so lucky you have a good sleeper!” and although I know I am lucky because yes, Rocklyn IS a good sleeper, there was also a TON of work that went into getting her that way. It did not happen the night she came home and it certainly didn’t happen without a little persistence, consistency and gentle nudging.  There were a few tricks/things I did over the first 10 weeks of her life that I feel really helped.  The real proof will be if this all works for baby #2,  who I am sure will be her own kind of special.

  • Write it down:  I really did make it a mental point to hold zero expectations the first few weeks she was here and just had one goal of getting to know my new baby girl and learning motherhood.  However, I DID write down everything she did.  The times she nursed and for how long, the times she slept and for how long, etc.  This might seem crazy, but it was SUPER helpful for me to understand her patterns.  This is also something I still do when I notice she might be going through a change or regression. I am very visual, so it helps me to really see the big picture of what is going on and maybe how things can be adjusted.
  • Baby led schedule, not yours:  When I would mention that I started putting my newborn on a schedule, I got a lot of funny looks.  BUT to be clear I didn’t put her on MY schedule. I didn’t force anything.  I simply followed her natural patterns that I had taken note of and tried to make them more consistent over weeks and months.  When I noticed the magic time she wanted to eat was every 3.5 hours, I decided on set times every day to feed her. When I noticed she would fall asleep around the same times every day, I would put her down right before she was actually asleep and let her practice falling asleep on her own and created those as consistent nap times.  This of course did not always go smooth, but I was pretty dedicated on doing the same things at the same time every day, it helped me with being confident l really think it helped her become comfortable quickly in her new world and new routine because her day was very predictable.  I am a big believer in sticking to routines with kids, I think it helps them really thrive…and gives Mama some sanity 😉  No joke, Rocklyn has followed roughly the same routine with some tweaks here and there through 16 months old.

In the early stages when I was trying to get her used to napping in her crib, she would wake up and then fall asleep in my arms minutes later. It was a process before she took a long nap in there.

  •  Nursing to feed, not for comfort:  This is probably kind of controversial, but to be clear I am not against moms who nurse their babies for comfort, truly! You do you! Nursing my baby was very important to me, but I unfortunately had a weird relationship with it and didn’t love it like other women do. It made me pretty anxious actually (which is another post for another day).  I wanted to be able to give her the nutrition she needed, but I also did not feel comfortable becoming a human pacifier.  So, I would only nurse her when I could tell she was actually hungry, otherwise I would give her a pacifier, or find other ways to soothe her. Once she was gaining enough weight and we got the doctor okay to stop nighttime feedings, I held off as long as possible to feed her at night. I would not just immediately stick her on my boob to calm her down if she started fussing.  I would rock her, sing to her, etc. and many many times she would fall right back asleep.  Sometimes I would nurse, but for the most part she kind of picked up quickly that I was not going to nurse her at every cry.   I learned a lot of the time she just needed some skin to skin/mamma love and that didn’t have to mean eating.  At 8 old weeks she was sleeping through the night and pretty much has been since.

 

 

  • Crib Habits: Something else we did once she was in her crib at night/during nap times was soothe her IN her crib. We would do everything except take her out unless absolutely necessary, especially at night. I did not want her to get into a habit of crying just to be picked up, especially when it was time to sleep. Babies are smart little tricksters!  But for us, it helped Rocklyn become a really good self soother and even now when she has her nights of being awake for chunks of time, she typically just talks or sings to herself and doesn’t need us to go in there.  To this day, if she is crying at night or during nap time, it means she really needs something like a diaper change, isn’t feeling good or is just going through a regression/phase that usually passes pretty quickly.  There is a method in the book “The Happy Sleeper” called the sleep wave that talks about this as well.

Up until about a month ago (when she was right around 16.5 months) we have had little to no sleep issues.  However, she just recently started not being super consistent with the length of her naps and having random awake times in the middle of the night pretty often.  Nothing too terrible, but it has definitely been a noticeable shift.  So we are starting a gentle transition from one to two naps right now, which I am totally okay with as it allows her to be able to do fun stuff in the mornings before baby sister is here!

Often times if we needed to go somewhere during nap time, she was so accustomed to sleeping that she would sleep anywhere during that time frame.  Now that she is older, that doesn’t happen too often as she gets too excited.  This picture was on a plane ride right during her usual morning nap time when she was 12 months old. Her sleeping in a new environment at night while on this trip was a whole other experience 😉

The downside to doing all of this was that I didn’t leave my house much during my maternity leave because I was so focused on getting her into a routine, getting her used to her crib etc. and taking trips out of the house tended to mess with that. Granted, she was born in December so it wasn’t hard to stay in BUT by the time I went back to work she was in such a good routine and such a great sleeper that it made it worth it.

 

Random Mom Thoughts

Hi, Friends. It’s been a while. I wrote a majority of this post while on a quick work trip to St. Louis a few months ago.  Ironically, the last time I posted back in August I was also on a work trip. I suppose when I have those rare chunks of time on a weekend where I am sitting in a coffee shop for hours, I have more time to ponder and let words flow.  Now that I am a Mom, I do actually write more than I did before…because there is always so much on my mind to decompress! Most of these things I tend to keep private.  I feel extra vulnerable talking about motherhood for some reason. While I do feel more confident in my role as a Mom than I have in any other role in my life, I am still not immune to second guessing, breakdowns and judgement.

I have had so many thoughts and reflections in these last 18 months (yes, my BABY is 18 months, WHAT?) but I often worry about sharing them, because I never want another mom to think that just because I write about the way I do things or how I feel about certain topics, that means I judge you for doing or feeling something different.  That is NOT my intention.  Not even a little bit.  I believe that whatever you feel is best as a Mom IS the best.  Maybe it is breastfeeding.  Maybe it is formula.  Staying home or going back to work?  Cry it out? Co-sleeping? You do you, Mama.  I think you are awesome no matter what.

So, instead of sharing the thoughts and experiences I have had thus far one by one, I tucked some of them away in this blog and have them saved under my “Mommyhood” tab in specific categories.  If you want to read them, go for it.  If you don’t, that’s cool too, scroll on.  Writing is how I sort things out.  It also helps me to have something to look back on and remember as I approach having baby #2.  Maybe I will do things the same way, or maybe it will be a whole new experience!

I don’t really know much. I am only experiencing and learning as I go, I think that is what we are all doing.  But I DO know this; Motherhood is an amazing journey, yet it can also be incredibly lonely and isolating.

I also have SUCH a problem with this crazy expectation that we HAVE to be in this overwhelmed exhausted state all the time, it is just the life of a Mom, right?!  NO. I don’t think it has to be. I really don’t.  It just so happens to be an easy thing to succumb to in motherhood. But I really don’t think it has to actually BE that way all ALL the time. That is not the kind of life I want to live and it is certainly not the kind of Mom I want to be. That being said, it is still something that I have to work hard to stay away from.

There are days where I feel like I am the only one that thinks about taking care of everybody and getting everything done, that worries about things I shouldn’t worry about, that has has my heart ache every moment I am away from my baby (yet oddly at the same time still desperately needing away time). The weight of the world seems to be so heavy on my shoulders, but is it because I put it that weight there?  I don’t know.  I am coming off a pretty busy season and not to mention a pregnant hormonal mess, so I think I am feeling a little more vulnerable than usual as I write this.

But I DO believe we have a choice in the kind of life we create for our families. We have a choice in the kind of parents we are and the kind of environment we raise our children in.  I want my girls to absorb my happiness, not my stress. I want them to feel my love, not my exhaustion. I want to be fully PRESENT when I am with them. Which is why I also now as a Mom, say “NO” more than I ever have before in my life.  I no longer feel obligated to do things to make other people outside my family happy or meet others expectations. This has come at a cost of losing some relationships, which I do value and miss, but ultimately having a large social circle and commitments outside of work and family is just not a priority for me right now.

It amazes me sometimes that I have gotten to be this way, considering just a few years ago I was constantly fighting a schedule that was packed to the max and saying yes to everything and everybody. Not to mention falling asleep anytime I sat down because I was always so tired.  But now, aside from my very busy seasons of work, my life is so much more relaxed  and wonderful. I am so much more committed to keeping my time sacred and doing things that bring me joy and doing those things well, because that ultimately brings my family joy and allows me to feel like I have a handle on this life. Finally.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

Pumping & Flying Like a BOSS

Pumping is probably the least glamorous thing ever, even more so when you are trying to figure out how to get it done while traveling/flying. But it IS possible! When I was interviewing for new positions, I took 4 flights in a matter of 10 days.  The nature of the positions I was interviewing for were remote/work from home admission positions for Colleges that were in different states, hence the flights.  So I figured out really quickly how to navigate pumping/traveling with breast milk in airports and flying.  So here are some of my tips!  Keep in mind, this was traveling without baby.

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I bought a little mini canvas cooler, although I wish I did have a plastic one because as your ice melts it leaked through my cooler a little bit, nothing major though.  They will allow you to carry it on with you no problem and it doesn’t count as an extra carry on.
You will put it on the belt through security as you would everything else and then somebody will take you aside to check it.  They just run a test on the milk itself, and it is super quick.  Just a little awkward when they are pulling out your milk and everybody is looking 😉   Bring ice blocks if you have them because they typically will not make you throw those away.

To Bring:

  • Your pump, obviously and maybe 2-4 bottles to pump into at most, I recommend only using bottles while you are actually pumping and bags for storage
  • Mini Cooler
  • Ice blocks
  • Breast milk bags:  this is where I stored all the milk I pumped on the trip too, not bottles, bags pack so much easier in the cooler and you can fit more in.
  • Empty ziploc bags:  Just in case your ice blocks melt or are not as cool, you can get some ice from a restaurant or McDonalds in the airport.
  • Little mini wash clothes just in case of leakage or spill etc.
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wipes
  • Portable charge for your pump in case you are not able to find an actual outlet

In terms of actual pumping, most airports have a nice Mother’s Room with a comfy chair, outlet and sink.  Be sure to find out a head of time if this room is actually before or AFTER security as it does vary at some airports

Hope this helps! 🙂

Colorado Reflection

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Let’s get real.  No matter how needed the change is…starting a new job has got to be one of the most terrifying experiences ever.  Why? The fear of the unknown of course. What are my new coworkers really going to be like? Is my boss going to micromanage me? Is my boss going to support me? Will everybody like me? Will I do a good job? Will I really enjoy this role? How will I balance working at home?  How will I balance trying to visit 100 high schools this fall? Was this really the right choice? AHHH ENTER ANXIETY ATTACK HERE. You get the point.

The first month of my new role has been a tad stressful as I have worked through fuzzy expectations and tried to figure out my new norm.  There is so much that is a new experience for me. Going from working to a school with a population of 4,000 to 30,000 alone is just nuts. The processes are so different, the mentality is so different. Pretty much everything is different, I feel lucky that I know the admission cycle and know this field well, so that I at least have a good base of knowledge and confidence to start with.

Being able to work from home has been of course awesome and I am definitely going to have a bit of an adjustment period once I start hitting the road this fall.  I cannot tell you how much it warms my heart to be working in my home office and hearing my mom and Rocklyn in the kitchen (and sneaking in kisses between tasks, duh).   There sometimes is a day or two during the week when I will be home alone with her which can be tricky to be as productive, but luckily still manageable thanks to her solid napping schedule.  I have been a schedule and sleep nazi since she was 2 weeks old and it has paid off!

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Last week, I had to go to campus for 7 days to get some new employee training and officially meet all my new colleagues.  I was excited for this, but I will be honest I had more anxiety about it than anything.  The thought of leaving her for an entire week had me literally sick to my stomach, I was a total disaster.

As it turns out, part of being a parent is the challenge of not having time to yourself.  When you do have those moments, your mind still never takes a break. I am always worrying and thinking about her and for goodness sake I miss her when she is just napping.   So as hard as it was to leave, I knew this week away would be good for me as a chance to be present with my own mind and take everything in around me. I just had to get there.

My week of employee training was pretty crazy. I met so many new awesome people ( I love my new coworkers they are so fun and nice) and took in SO much new information.  Each day I was there I became more excited to represent this school in Chicagoland. I am so blown away by the opportunities a big school like this provides to students, it is insane. Additionally, I was able to hit up a local breweries, restaurants, coffee shops, thrift shops etc. after work each day.  Sometimes a co-worker came with me, but sometimes I was solo. I made a pact to myself to be as present as possible, no sense in going back to my hotel to cry about how much I miss my daughter.  She is safe.  I am here. I need to be here.  Full disclosure; I still cried in my hotel a couple times.

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When the weekend came, I legitimately spend the entire two days hiking (and paid for it Monday morning). Some people feel close to God in a church, but I feel close to God when I am sitting on top of a boulder at sunrise looking out at the horizon. This time was really REALLY good for my soul.  The picture below was on the halfway point of Bear Peak, a solo 6-ish mile hike I did on Saturday morning. I think I probably sat in this spot for a good hour.

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I cannot remember the last time I spent so much time on my own.  Even though I was only a few states away, it felt like I went on an international trip. I explored so many new places, had intriguing conversations about life with total strangers, spent lots of time reading, writing and just reflecting on my life.  If part of my heart (my family) was not there with me, I would tell you my heart was full. I felt totally refreshed.  As much as I dreaded leaving my family behind for a week, it was truly good for me. It opened up my mind. It helped me to re-set and realign and essentially prepared me to go forth into this new job, but aslo gave me an incredible amount of energy to come back and be a mom.

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New Beginnings

I have had a lot to think about in these last few months into being a working Mom.  As you learned from my last post, balancing has been pretty tough for me. I have been constantly faced with the question of… do I really HAVE to do it ALL?? Every time a gracious fellow working mom has told me that I will get used to this new normal, I think to myself; but what if I don’t want this to be my normal? Because I don’t like it.  Enter temper tantrum here.

I have worked very hard to get to where I am in my career.  Starting off 8 years ago as an itty bitty college grad, so excited to be a Freshman Admission Counselor at Aurora University.  I had all kinds of visions of where my career would take me, becoming a leader in my office, heck maybe even the Director of Admission someday.  I set goals, tried to outwork and impress everybody, say yes to everything, take on new projects and do my best. This brought me to a leadership position in my office that I often times felt unqualified for. It has challenged me and grown me so much professionally.  These challenges have also brought me so much closer to those I work with, who happen to be a group of really amazing people.

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Interestingly enough, the more responsibility I have taken on at AU, the less time I get to spend directly with students, which has been tough for me. Don’t get me wrong, it is awesome to be a part of all the behind the scenes work in admission and have a say in a lot of things that effect our work.  But, my TRUE passion lies on the ground floor at a college fair, in a high school visit, or one on one with those scared little high schoolers. Not in meeting after meeting after meeting. I did feel better about this transition when I created our Spartan Ambassador program, who are the 25 current AU students that work in the office and help run our events and campus tours.  They helped me get that fire back as I was able to interact with and mentor them daily and loved it.  Although eventually, I even had less time for them with responsibilities continuously pulling me in different directions.  In constant talks with myself I have often been conflicted. Shouldn’t I be thankful that I am given more responsibility? Shouldn’t I be proud that I have the opportunity to lead others and impacting change? Isn’t this the path I wanted? To move up the ladder? To be a leader? It is the path that makes the most sense, right?

If I continued in my current role, I know I would eventually figure out a groove and it would be fine. I know I would still be successful and make a great impact at AU. I know I could probably hold a fancy title, make a decent salary and keeping adding to that good ole’ retirement fund. Part of me knows it is crazy to leave that path behind.  But titles and money mean absolutely nothing to me.  What means something? Being in a career that I am passionate about while simultaneously having more of a presence at home with my family.

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I have decided to leave AU because I was in need of a change, an opportunity to have more time on the ground floor with students which I love, but also I was in need of a more flexible schedule to be with Rocklyn.  My new position will be working for the University of Colorado, as the Assistant Director of Admission for the Chicago Region.  What this means is:

1. I will get back into the college fair and high school visit circuit which I am SUPER excited about. More time with students!!

2. I will get to represent a school that has always seemed like a dream to me AND get to  visit the mountains several times a year (which is good for my soul).

3.  I get to work from home and see my baby more.

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So, even though I will have busy times of the year where I am out for very long days, when I am back in the office…that office will be home.  Even though Rocklyn will still be with a sitter, I will be able to sneak in a snuggle and a kiss in between phone calls and emails  and not spend 10 hours a day every day away from her.  This is CLUTCH.

I am not sure if this is the answer I am looking for, but I knew I had to pursue this opportunity and give it a try.  Continuing on the path I was on was simply not working for me.  I have been miserable.  And Jill does not do miserable, Jill does happy.

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AU has been so good to me and is such a special place.  In fact, when I nervously shared my news with my boss and co-workers, everybody was so supportive and understanding. I am not sure why I was surprised, but it has blown me away.  Makes it harder to leave even though I know it is the right decision.

My quest for balance continues, cheers to new beginnings!

 

 

How am I balancing? I’m not.

Let’s see. The last time I wrote a post, it was the day before I was returning back to work from my maternity leave in March.  I was sad, nervous, excited, and wondering how I was going to balance working and being a first time mom.  Not gonna lie, I had felt pretty on top of my motherhood game at that point. I have a happy baby with a good routine who sleeps through the night, I can totally handle work. How hard could it be?

I am a few months into that journey and let me tell you…I am not doing so hot.  In fact, I am one big train wreck.  All the time.

March through May is the busiest time of year in higher ed, so I had to hit the ground running as soon as I got back. This of course was a blessing to keep me distracted, but a curse in my stress levels.   My day was instantly filled with insanity…and I mean INSANITY. I have barely had time to breathe. During this time of year, I usually like to go into work extra early a few times a week to stay caught up or power through some tasks without distraction.  Honestly, I COULD be doing that, but I don’t want to.  My child sleeps from 730pm- 630am.  So the way I see it, I already only getting 3 hours TOPS a day with her awake.  Leaving the house earlier than 7:30am or staying at the office later than 5pm meant missing out on even more time with her.  This gives me so much anxiety because I already miss her so bad it hurts.

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So, for these last few months I have been getting to work on time if not late, which stresses me out.  Despite not getting everything on my list done, or responding to all the emails I should have….I leave at 5pm regardless.  Which stresses me out. This is not the kind of employee I am or have ever been.  But I am struggling to find a balance.  I miss my girl, all the time.  I am dying to get home every day to see her and it kills me that for 50 hours a week somebody else is taking care of her when she is MINE. So I end up leaving work feeling like a terrible employee because I didn’t accomplish what I needed and then I get home for the 2 hours left with my child feeling like a terrible mother.   Apparently this is the crux of parenthood.

And the rest of my life outside of work and Rocklyn? Feels almost non- existent.  Keeping up with the house, bills or even something simple as responding to text messages or being nice to my husband (who is constantly traveling for work), seems near impossible. I have miraculously managed to workout a few times a week, BUT in order to do that I have to be up at 3:45/4am at the latest in order to fit that and pumping before she wakes up. This is also why I am dead to the world by 8pm.

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Guys, I have one kid.  ONE. UNO.  Again, a happy one.  Who sleeps and is the awesomest little being ever. WHY IS THIS SO HARD?  Why do I feel like such a constant train wreck and failure?  I have not felt this out of sorts since I was in college and was losing my keys every other day and going negative in my bank account on a consistent basis.

Good news?  Things are starting to slow down a little, thank heavens.  So I can regain my composure (a little) and try to figure out how to get a handle on my life again. I know I am not the only one running frantically through this journey of being a parent and facing the challenge of trying to be decent in my different roles.  My favorite role is Rocky’s Mom, the problem is trying to make time for the other roles that seem oh so less important.

I think there is a way to feel a LITTLE balanced with all of this, maybe not all the time but at least some of the time.  I really am working on it.  To my fellow Mama bears out there, we can do this.  I think.

Stay blessed in the big OLE MESS!

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