Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 33: Tea Party

On a Sunday, Adelyn and I joined a friend of mine for her birthday. She had high tea at a cute little tea house downtown. While the other parents grabbed a babysitter and enjoyed an afternoon child-free, I took her with me. Adelyn has been my tiny shadow since she arrived in this world, and I wouldn’t start leaving her behind now. Especially after how fascinate she has become with tea parties since watching the new Alice in Wonderland.

Adelyn, who is a connoisseur of fancy dresses, had originally picked out a dress with a long tulle skirt and long lacy sleeves. It was a lot of work; however, I convinced her to pick a more stubble fancy dress. It was a pink knee-length dress with a bit of tulle and a lacy tank top. She topped off her look with a teal tulle headband. Although I’m certain she would have worn her tiara if she could have found it.

We arrived at the teahouse before everyone else. There was a Victorian-looking settee in the lobby. Adelyn excitedly sat down before quickly standing up again to inspect the tea sets on the coffee table in front of us. She surprised herself when she picked up the pot’s lid and found dry flowers inside.

“Do people drink these?” she asked, returning the lid.

“No,” I told her, pointing at the wall behind us filled with jars of tea. “But they drink these, and they make some from flowers.”

She scrunched her nose. “I don’t want to drink flower water. Can I have chocolate milk?”

Just as she asked me about the chocolate milk, the teahouse owner walked into the lobby. “I think we can do that.” She told Adelyn with a smile.

As we waited for our friends to arrive, Adelyn peaked into the tearoom. “Mommy, we don’t have a fancy hat.”

“We don’t need a hat,” I told her. “Besides, you have a beautiful headband.”

That seemed to put her nerves to rest. Also, so did Rebecca, walking through the door. Adelyn got up from the settee and hugged Rebecca. Shortly after, they guided us to the table the tea party was going to be. Rebecca, Adelyn, and I were all there early. Even with kids, I do my best to arrive at places early. Also, I blame my father and husband for still functioning like they were in the military and making sure we are always fifteen to ten minutes early for everything we do. Rebbecca used to be an officer in the Army, so she is also inflected with this same mindset.

But our early arrival allowed Adelyn to inspect every seat at the table. She chose a cushioned flower seat with a white and gold tea cup. But as she bounced on her chair, I noticed she was inspecting every place setting. Even though she was happy with her seat, she was not pleased with her cup. Especially after she looked at mine. It was a forest green cup with golden details, and on the inside was a pattern of a dragon. Adelyn asked if we could trade. As much as I like the cup, she is five, and this was not a battle I cared to have. Her satisfaction with the cup did not last. She now wanted my flowered tea cup. I told her no; we have already traded once. While Adelyn was inspecting the other cups, Rebecca claimed the dragon cup for herself.
Adelyn looked around at the other place settings and chose a pink cup with a golden handle and roses encircling the trim. Thankfully, she decided on her cup before everyone joined us. That would have made for a quiet show, having her switch cups with a table full of adults.

Adelyn’s teapot of chocolate milk arrived with the other guest. We would have to wait until everyone picked their teas before the sandwiches and desserts arrived. I felt bad. Everyone was hm-ing and ha-ing over their choices. I could hear her tummy rumble. Eventually, the pots of tea arrived, and everyone began talking. Adelyn did her best sitting still and acting like a proper little adult. She would lean in and ask me questions about the conversations everyone was having, and she made friends with the person sitting next to her. He was a dad of a little girl just about her age.

“What are they doing?” Adelyn asked when the tea staff returned and started moving pots out of the way.

I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I think they are going to bring the food.”

“Finally!” She sighed dramatically.

Three-tiered tower filled the sports on the tables that were once taken up by the tea pots. The first tier had hot cranberry & orange scones with clotted cream and preserves, they filled the second with small sandwiches, and the third held desserts. Adelyn’s eyes got big, and she reached for the desserts.

“Um, no,” I told her as I placed a cucumber sandwich on her plate.

She sniffed the sandwich and turned up her nose to it. “No thank you, I’ll just have a brownie.”

“What are you talking about? You like cucumbers.”

Adelyn lifted the bread and scrunched her nose at what she saw. “But it has the creaming stuff on it.”

“It’s just an herb cream spread.” As I peeled the cucumbers off the bread.

She ate that no problem and before she could reach for another dessert, I already had grabbed a turkey & cranberry sandwich.. She nibbled it up and asked if now she could have the better food. I finally relented and filled her plate with sweet treats. She ate them all and emptied her chocolate milk from her teapot.

After two hours of being a sweet angel baby that I barely had to correct, she leaned into me and whispered. “Can we go home? I’m tired.”

I leaned down and kissed her head and said soon.

Every wrapped up their meal shortly after her request. Not because she asked to go home but it was closing time. We hugged everyone and said our goodbyes. She held my hand as we walked to the car and I looked down at her and smiled.

“Did you have fun?” I asked opening the door for her.

“Yes!” she beamed, climbing into her seat.

“What was your favorite part?” I asked once I started the car.

She thought for a moment. “Spending time with just you.”

It made my heart feel good to hear that. It’s what I wanted for her since she has been so good with her little brother. I wanted her to feel special and the tea party did just that.

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 35: Downward Spiral

Last week I didn’t have the energy to write. We returned to school from Spring Break, and all my students were going insane. While I spent the week paying attention to my students’ needs and trying to get them back into the swing of things, I should have been paying attention to my mental health. I didn’t want to write and couldn’t focus. I was just diving deeper into a darker space, and it wasn’t until Saturday did I get a slap in the face. 

On Saturday morning, we finally took a break from baseball…so of course, that mean we headed to the baseball fields to support friends who were playing against each other and later met up with a group of boys so they could have fun, practice a bit and just be ten-year-olds causing chaos. I would never have questioned our Saturday plans if I were mentally sound. It was a beautiful day. There were daughters at the games that Adelyn is friends with. I would have never had a moment of uncertainty. However, that was not the case. 

When Tyler came into our room to ask me what I wanted to dress Bennett in, I just stared at him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I fidgeted with whatever was in my hands. “Are you sure I’m not intruding?”

“What? Why would you be intruding?”

“I don’t know.” I felt uncomfortable even voicing feelings, which is something I rarely have a problem with. “You’re just going with the dads, and I don’t want to feel like-”

“Stop,” he interrupted me. “Have you taken your pill?”

I shook my head no.

“Okay, well, take that.” He watched me and waited until I did. “You’re not interrupting. We’re going to Jeffery’s and Reese’s game. Their moms will be there, and Deanna will meet us afterward and bring Hailey. You need to get out of the house. You aren’t staying here. Alex, you never intrude, ever. You know this. If I wanted just time for Mark and me, I would have said so.”

He was right. He has never had a problem saying he felt, and until I had our youngest, I never experienced this issue either. I thought I was getting better, and I was feeling normal. But this weekend just proved that the medication wasn’t a miracle drug. I mean, logically, I know antidepressants don’t fix things immediately. I’m not even five months postpartum, so I don’t know why I would think everything is fine. 

All I can be grateful for right now is how attentive my husband is to my mental state. I appreciate how well he knows me. Even if it can be annoying, especially when I think I can hide that I am irritated by a situation. But I will forever be grateful that he knows me well enough that I might need‌ help, especially when I may not see it. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 28: The trouble with meeting a unicorn

When my daughter was turning, three Facebook-targeted ads caught me in their trap. They were promoting a photographer in north Florida that did amazing unicorn photo shoots. I shared it as a pipe dream because I didn’t really have the money to spend on something so extravagant. However, I didn’t have to. A family friend offered to pay for the pictures, and I gladly accepted. 

Adelyn and I journeyed up to the Cape Canaveral area to stay with a friend of mine. I was nervous about the trip. Not because of the length of the drive, but because this was the first time it would be just Adelyn and I going somewhere for this long without my husband. It may seem a little paranoid to some, but I was concerned about if we had to stop at a rest stop. Adelyn and I are both small, which makes for a very easy target. I worked in local news, and the number of stories we had covered over the years about distracted mothers being abducted or targeted lived in the forefront of my mind. But these worries were unnecessary. Aside from the quick drive-through stop at McDonald’s, we didn’t need to make a stop.

On our drive up, I wondered how Nikki and her husband would handle having a toddler in their home. They had married just a year before, and I wasn’t sure if they had even thought about having kids. Even though Adelyn was a very well-behaved toddler, having a small energetic human in your home is a big adjustment. When we pulled into the driveway, Jerry and Nikki were both there. I am truly grateful for adult friendships because even though it had been a year since we had seen each other; it felt like we just saw each other at work. While I took our overnight bag and Adelyn’s fairy princess dress out of the car, Nikki scooped up Adelyn and took her inside. Adelyn put on a quick fashion show for Nikki as they prepared a delicious toddler-friendly dinner of chicken nuggets and french fries in the air fryer. I’m not sure how Nikki and I had a conversation with how much my little chatterbox dominated most of the exchange, but over wine and a stunning sunset, we were able to catch up on each other’s lives. By the time we went to bed, all I could think of was how wonderful Nikki and Jerry did with having a three-year-old invade her space. I guess I was unknowingly preparing them for their little boy that would join them in a few short years. 

The next morning, the three of us drove to the ranch where the pictures were taking place. It was May, and you never know what that means weather-wise in Florida. You could face sweltering heat or a monsoon. Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with sweltering heat or humidity, and somehow we were blessed by the beautiful, breezy, cool weather. As we drove up the drive of the ranch house, we saw a horse barn off to the left. Behind the ranch house was a field with brown and white horses grazing. I was hoping to see a different set of horses in the fields because, in the winter, the ranch house hosted Clydesdale carriage rides, however, to trick people into forgetting they lived in Florida. Adelyn saw the horses from the backseat and wondered if those were the unicorns. I told her no. Those were just normal horses. 

“Good,” she said. “Because those horses are tooooo big. They are scary.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that horses were usually that big. I had seen pictures of the horses they used for the unicorns, and even though they weren’t the brown and white ones in the field, there were still a few large white horses. Thankfully, they had a small white one named Sugar. 

A little to the left of the horse barn was a wooded path. I told Adelyn to look, and there, standing in the middle of the path, was the large white unicorn. We arrived a little early, and the previous photoshoot was still going on. Adelyn squealed and wanted to run toward the unicorns, but I had to stop her. I didn’t want her to interrupt the other little girl’s magical moment. We headed to the horse barn, hoping to find something that might distract my overly eager little girl. 

While we waited, we walked through the barn, and the tiny unicorn Sugar was waiting in front of the stalls. I hung back, watching Adelyn walk to the barn. Her long tulle skirt made her look as if she was floating. Everything felt magical at that moment. Adelyn was so excited to see a unicorn that she wasn’t sure how to react. There was lots of squealing, and she reached out to touch the small pony, but instead of walking towards her, the pony shook her head, and Adelyn became wary of the pony. 

“Oh no,” I thought. “We did not drive all this way for her to suddenly be scared of horses.” 

Tentatively, she reached out a hand to pet the pony’s nose, and it snorted at her. She giggled, and everything seemed to be alright. Which was good because it was our turn for the pictures. 

I spoke with the photographer, and she asked if Adelyn would be okay with sitting on a horse. I wasn’t sure. Before this afternoon, I would have instantly answered yes. But ‌Adelyn was starstuck by the unicorns, and my adventurous little girl had become shy. The photographer said we could try, but we won’t push anything. Along with the unicorn, there were two other locations that the photographer showed me. She asked me if Adelyn could swing by herself. Adelyn had just turned three a few days ago. While she loved swinging, she couldn’t swing by herself, but she could sit on a “Big Girl Swin.” As the photographer showed me the tea party set up, a ranch hand asked Adelyn if she wanted to go for a pony ride. I don’t know where my phone was, but luckily Nikki was there to capture Adelyn at the moment.  

The photoshoot was magical. Adelyn was a fairytale princess running through the woods.  Dancing and trawling through the sunlight that poured in through the leaves. While she was hesitant about the large unicorn, she allowed the ranch hands to lift her up and put her on his back. I stood beside her and kept her calm while the photographer snapped pictures. You never know what kind of attitude to expect from a toddler, and I was so proud of how well-behaved my little three-year-old was. She smiled and laughed as she sat in the princess chair with the pony Sugar next to her. At one point, they even let her hold Sugar’s reins. Lucky for us, Adelyn just stood there with the pony instead of trying to wander off with him. 

When it was time to swing, Adelyn asked if I could sit next to her. I was elated that she wanted me with her. As much as these pictures were for her, I wanted someone to capture special moments between my daughter and me. Not saying my husband doesn’t take pictures, but he is not a professional photographer, and my day-to-day wear is not a lovely flowing dress. 

The photographer allowed Adelyn to pick a spinning tulip from the basket as the session ended. She picked a blue one to match her skirt. Sadly, the three of us piled into the car and headed back to Nikki’s. Adelyn chattered in the backseat, spinning her tulip and occasionally stabbing me with the stem in the back of the head. 

 After we received the professional pictures, I marveled at how well the photographer could Photoshop the bridle off the horse’s face. She even made the ranch hands disappear. I may be a video editor by trade; however, I have no skill when it comes to Photoshop. My husband and I printed out our favorite pictures, and Adelyn picked a few that she liked best. And soon, the photoshoot became a distant fond memory. That was until Adelyn entered kindergarten two years later. 

Adelyn came home from school one day very upset. She went into her room and brought out a picture of her on a unicorn. 

“See!” she proclaimed.

“See what?” I asked.

“Unicorns are real!” She said admittedly. “I met one, and no one believes me.”

“Oh fuck,” I thought.

While I had been so excited about the pictures and worried about things that could happen to us on the drive to and from, I never once thought about what these pictures might do. My daughter held in her hand a picture of her with a unicorn. Adelyn truly believed that these horses were really unicorns. She even saw the pictures with the bridle on the pony and said it was there because that’s where the reins go, and she wasn’t wrong. 

I did not know how to handle the situation. She still believes in Santa, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. If I told her unicorns weren’t real, what kind of chaos was I about to unleash? 

“Not everyone may have the chance to have such a magical meeting,” I told her, trying to think of the best way to handle the situation. “You were very lucky and had the chance to have a magical moment and pictures from it. You don’t always have to make people believe you. What matters most is you hold this moment in your heart forever. What do you feel when you look at the pictures?” I asked her. 

She looked at the picture and thought for a moment. “Happy and pretty.” 

“Then that’s all the matters.” I smiled at her. “Do you feel less pretty because they don’t  believe?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Then who cares what they believe?”

That answer seemed to be good enough because she ran off and started harassing her older brother. 

There have been times throughout the year that Adelyn has brought up that the boys in her class don’t believe her. But now the girls are saying they believe in fairies and other magical creatures. 

Eventually, I might tell her the unicorns she met were just horses. But I might not have to. Adelyn is extremely smart. Who knows, one day, she might pick up the pictures and see the bridle for something more than just holding the reins. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 25: Big brother, middle sister, baby brother

I never thought I’d have three kids. I always thought I’d have two, and in a way, I do. I birthed two and my husband came with our oldest. When we started dating, it wasn’t just the two of us, we were always a party of three, and I was fine with that. Markie is and was a fantastic kid. 

So when I found out that I was pregnant, I was excited. Not just because I was going to have a daughter but because Markie would now have a friend.

 I could not have asked for a better amazing little boy. Mark went from being an only child in both households to the oldest when he was home with his dad and me. I was worried about how he would adjust to having a little sister, but my worries were for nothing. He was caring and sweet, and that love has only grown as he and his sister have aged. 

Adelyn is obsessed with her Markie. Everything he does, she wants to do with him. He skateboards, and she wants to skateboard. He plays baseball. She wants to play it too. But with the five-year age difference, things can get challenging. Mark wants his independence from his little sister, and I understand that. Only it’s hard to explain that to Adelyn. On the days when Mark is at his mom’s, Adelyn is waiting for him to come home. Sometimes I’ll find her in his room stealing a stuffed animal. When I ask her what she’s doing, she’ll tell me the stuffed animal is sad and lonely because Markie is gone. 

I thought our family was complete with just the two of them. That was until my hormones told me otherwise, and I had a minor meltdown when I finally told my husband I wanted a third child. 

While pregnant, the worries about how the two older children would adjust to a new fresh baby came flying back. I didn’t know how Adelyn would adjust to sharing her one on one attention with a new baby. Part of me wanted to have another little girl so they could play when Mark wasn’t here and gang up on him while he was here. But the universe had a different idea, and we were blessed with another little boy. A little boy that Mark and my husband were thrilled about because both of them said they could not handle another Adelyn. 

We grew from a family of four to a party of five with Bennett’s arrival. And just like with Mark, my worries were unnecessary. Adelyn and Mark both dote on their little brother. Showering him with love and affection. The five, five, five age difference has worked out in our favor. When I need to put Bennett down to make him a bottle or do the dishes, he’s never alone. He always has someone talking to him and giving him attention. This works out wonderfully for Adelyn. She has a trapped audience to sit and listen to her stories or songs. Bennett coos and babbles with her. However, Mark might be screwed. He’ll be fifteen and have a ten-year-old sister and a five-year-old little brother fighting for his attention. But secretly, I think he loves it. 

Mark will sit on the couch and play fight with the baby. He says Bennett is working on his ninja skills. Now that Bennett can hold things, Mark will put stuff in his hands only for his baby brother to throw it back at him. Mark is convinced that Bennett will be playing baseball the moment he can walk, which is a terrifying thought, a toddler with a bat. 

While the days are long and busy with sports and trying to navigate it all with an infant, I don’t think we’d have it any other way. My kids are wonderful. It’s probably why I asked my husband for a fourth and why he has a vasectomy scheduled. There’s no way we’d be lucky enough to have four amazing kids. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 27: Four months postpartum

Today is the first day of spring break. It’s 57° degrees and overcast. Usually, I would complain about the weather not being warm and sunny, but today I’m grateful. I don’t think I’ve let myself rest since returning to work. Between softball, baseball, and a very feisty newborn, the only time my brain gets to relax is when my eyes are closed. However, today I’m finally listening to my body and doing nothing. 

It’s a struggle not to do anything. For some reason, I can’t just relax. Even now, as I lay on the couch and fight sleep, I’m trying to ignore how much I have to do. But laundry can wait. I need to listen to my body and rest. I must let go of the guilt that I don’t have any amazing adventures planned for my daughter and me. Not like she’s going to complain. Right now, she’s snuggled up next to me, watching her favorite shows. 

I hoped being off social media and unable to voyeuristically watch people’s spring breaks would keep away the guilt, but it’s not working. Some of my friends are on a road trip with their families. Others are enjoying the cool weather and camping. Some are on cruises. 

But even if I embraced my adventurous side this spring break, I doubt I would thoroughly enjoy it. I need rest. It was only four months ago that I was opened up to bring life into this world. My body may look like I was never pregnant, but that’s not the case. I’m physically and mentally drained. Sometimes my incision will still hurt because of the scar tissue. And even though my amazing little nugget sleeps through the night, I am not. Sometimes I lay awake listening to his adorable sleepy coos or worrying about how we’ll afford daycare when he goes in August.  

I’m fighting to stay awake as I write this, but I don’t have a choice. I hear my son has woken up from his nap. That means this moment of rest is over, and I’ll need to go back into full mom mood. Hopefully, he’ll nap again, and this time I’ll sleep with him so my body can continue to heal and recover. I must remind myself that it takes nine months to make a baby and just as long to recover. I only wish the professional world in America would remember that. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 20: Explaining puberty to a 5-year-old

I highly suggest not reading today’s post if you’re grossed out about how female anatomy works. 

When you have a 5-year-old daughter, there is no privacy. It does not matter if the bathroom door is closed; she will still come in with her hairbrush and headband and ask you to help her prepare for school. When she barges into the bathroom and discovers some unexpected things, like staring at you and seeing blood on a pad.

This isn’t the first time she’s seen this, but she was much younger, around two or three. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her I had the bloods. After hearing that, for the next two and a half, nearly three years old, anytime she got a cut, she would come up to me and say, “Mommy, I have the bloods.”

However, today was a totally different story. Adelyn came in holding her hairbrush and headband; when she looked down, she looked up at me and was highly concerned. “Mommy, what happened?”

I wasn’t even thinking because it was first thing in the morning, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. “What happened?”

“You’re bleeding,” she said.

I looked down. “Yeah, I am.”

Her eyes got huge. “Why are you bleeding so much? Are you going to die?”

 It took every ounce of me not to laugh because she was extremely concerned. “No, baby, I’m not going to die. It’s just my period.”

This made her even more confused. “I thought a period was a dot you make on a piece of paper, not blood.”

“You’re not wrong,” I said. “Yes, there are periods you write, but this is different. You know how pop pop calls me a werewolf?”

“Yes,” she nodded.

“Well, every woman has a cycle.” I tried to figure out how to explain this so that a five-year-old would understand, and the werewolf reference was the only thing that came to mind. “Mine just so happens to match up with the full moon. I sometimes get cranky and angry, and at the end of that cycle, I have the bloods.”

She thought for a moment. “But if you are like a werewolf, why are you bleeding?” 

Oh God, what have I started? I thought. “So each month, a girl makes an egg, and it goes right here.” I pointed to her uterus. “And your body gets ready to make a baby.”

The idea of me having another made her excited.

“No,” I told her firmly. “I am not making another baby. Girls’ bodies do this every month.”

Adelyn looked down and became fairly upset. “Is that my baby sister?”

“Oh God no,” I said, hugging her. “That’s not your baby sister.”

It could have been your baby sister or brother we wouldn’t have known for months. But the egg wasn’t even a baby or had the possibility of being a baby, I thought, but I wasn’t going to explain that to her just yet. It was hard enough to explain the female cycle to a nearly six-year-old, and I didn’t even think about how to explain the birds and the bees to her yet. 

“Every month, your body gets ready to make a baby,” I told her. “But you don’t have to worry about this until you are way older. And when you’re older, like thirty, and you find your love, you two will talk about becoming a mommy and daddy. Once you decide you want to make a baby, magic will happen, and the egg will stay inside you and eventually turn into a baby. But if it doesn’t, your body releases the egg and a bunch of blood like this, and your body gets ready to try again.”

 She looked back down at the blood and asked. “Are you sure you’re not going to die?”

“No, I’m not going to die,” I assured her. “Women have superhuman powers. We can bleed for seven days or more and not die.”

I saw the wheels in her head spin. “If daddy bleeds for seven days, will he die?”

“Yes, he would most definitely die.” I laugh.

 This earned me a giant smile. “So when I get bigger, I’ll have a superpower?”

“Yes,” I mutter. “Women have the worst superpower, and we experience it every month.” 

“That’s so cool,” she says, running out of the bathroom. “I can bleed and not die.”

Oh, the joys of having children and the conversations that you get to have before you even change out of your pajamas or have that first sip of coffee

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 8: Fighting Imposter Syndrome

I’ve been fighting the feeling of impostor syndrome for a while now. Where I used to think it only affected my creative and professional life, I discovered I was wrong. Lately, I’ve felt like an imposter mother to my youngest child—the child I so desperately wanted and had a mental breakdown and nearly divorced my husband over. 

I look back at when Adelyn, my daughter, was an infant and wondered how I had so much time with her. Then I remembered I worked in the news, and my shift was from 3 to 11 pm. I spent the day with her before I went to work. Also, my husband and I were living at my mom’s while we tried to find a home. That meant I could focus all my time on my new baby. Eventually, I switched from 3 to 11 pm to 3-11 am. I could pick up Adelyn from daycare at noon, nap while she napped, and spend the rest of the day with her before bedtime. 

Now everything is so different. 

I, thankfully, no longer live with my parents. We were able to find a home before our area became entirely unaffordable for those who grew up here and weren’t millionaires. I also changed jobs. I switched from working in television to teaching how to work in broadcast television. This meant working more regular hours. Yes, I get a million days off that I would never have earned while working in the news, but now my time is stretched so differently. 

Bennett, my youngest, spends nearly his entire waking hours with my mom and dad or my husband’s mom when she’s off work. 

I pick up Bennett at five and rush to whatever ballpark the oldest are playing at—the moment he hits the car, his out. My youngest doesn’t nap during the day. He loves to be awake and alert, looking around and observing his surroundings. This is probably why this makes working regular hours so hard. Bennett is not a night owl like Adelyn is. He’s the most fantastic sleeper. If he goes to bed at 8:30 – 9, he’ll be asleep until 7 am. I know nearly no one would complain about a baby sleeping; however, with Bennett being a fantastic sleeper, I hardly get a few hours with him during the week. It makes me feel like I’m not raising my child, but my parents are. 

I’m genuinely blessed knowing Bennett is at my parents’ house instead of being at daycare. But that doesn’t help matters much because come August; I believe my little one will go to daycare unless my dad misses having him over the summer. 

Adelyn and Mark both went to daycare, but they were older. Mark didn’t go until vpk, and we had the most amazing nanny for Adelyn until she was 13 months or so. The idea of Bennett, not even four months old, having to go into daycare breaks my heart. He’s a cuddle bug. He loves to be held. And even though the daycare he would have gone to is impressive, they couldn’t spend ten-ish hours holding him. 

Writing ten hours out just made me nauseous. My child is spending ten hours with other people. The child I so desperately wanted, yet unfortunately, because bills need to be paid, we need a roof over our heads, and food on the table. I don’t get to spend all the time in the world with him. 

Times like these are when I envy stay-at-home moms. I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for them, and it wouldn’t be for me. Without a task at hand, I get restless. I get cabin fever quickly, and my child loves to pee, poop, and throw up on me. 

Even knowing that I truly wish there were more hours in the day to do everything I want to do. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 5: Sea World

A day late, but I was drafting this in my head on my drive home from Orlando. 

Yesterday Adelyn and I had a girl’s day at Sea World. The drive up is about two and a half hours if you don’t hit traffic, and thankfully we didn’t. Before we headed out on our mini road trip, we grabbed coffee for me and a donut for her. This gave me about ten whole minutes of silence while she devoured her strawberry sprinkle donut. And do you know why I wrote strawberry instead of pink? Because I had to listen to a twenty-minute ramble fest about how her donut was strawberry, not pink, and it was the best tasting donut, better than chocolate, and they should only make strawberry sprinkle donuts. 

I don’t think I had my radio on for much of the trip. Adelyn has quite the imagination, and I wanted to listen to her wild tales. Occasionally Adelyn would ask me to turn up the radio so she could sing songs she knew, and if she didn’t like the music, she would ask me to turn it down. At one point, she sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and asked me to sing with her. 

“Mommy, I love when you sing with me,” she said after the third time through. 

Part of me wanted to be snarky and ask if she had potatoes in her ears because mommy doesn’t have a good singing voice, but the part that asked her what other songs she wanted to sing. 

When I decided I wanted another baby, I was worried about how our relationship would be. Adelyn has always been my tiny shadow following me, but is also very much her own person. I wasn’t sure if adding another little dependent would change things, and in a way, it has. I see her actively searching me out for when she wants her one-on-one time where, as before, I think she had gotten used to me just being there. Now my time is precious because it’s split between three instead of two. 

At one point on the trip up, things got quiet. I looked back in my rearview mirror, and she was quietly playing with her stuffed beluga whale. She told her stuffie we would see its mommy and explained how much fun we would have today. I’m pretty sure my heart exploded. 

I feel like one of the few parents who doesn’t hand my child some form of electronics when they get into the car. We have crayons, markers, and coloring books in the backseat for the kids if they get bored. Also, there is a window for them to stare out of because it’s not the worst thing in the world for them to be bored. The boredom tends to spark creativity in Adelyn. She makes up songs and stories or suddenly remembers what she did in school instead of her usual answer of “I don’t remember.”

There is a song that I must remember to thank her music teacher for teaching her. She asks over and over again, “are we there yet” and the parent responds with, “not yet, look out the window and tell me what you see.” This sparked a wild tale about alligators in the water eating the cows grazing in the fields we passed.  She asked why there were no houses along the road, and I explained we were in the middle of the state. This started a five-minute giggle-fest because she thought I said snake. She told me everything around us was what made up the snake, and we were driving on its belly.

The closer we got to ending our trip on the turnpike, the wilder she became. At one point, I told her I would feed her to the sharks if she did not calm down. This did not calm her down. 

“You can’t feed me to the sharks!” She cried. “If you feed me to the sharks, you won’t have a little girl.”

“That’s okay. I’ll make a new one.” I teased. 

It probably wasn’t the best idea because now she was telling me how I couldn’t make any more babies because daddy said no more babies, and I would be stuck with all the stinky boys. 

As silly as Adelyn can be, she knows when to chill. As we pulled off the turnpike, she quieted down. We turned onto 417, and the roads were congested. In my mirror, I saw her trying to read the map. When we left in the morning, I showed her where on the map to find the distance and the length of the trip. So she proudly announced we had ten miles until sea world. When I asked her how long that was, she said, “I don’t know. It’s what the map says.”

Arriving at Sea World manifested the loudest squeal I’ve heard from my daughter. She pressed her beluga against the window, pointing at the billboard with the beluga whale. We entered the gates and headed toward the beluga whale exhibit. We earned a few funny looks because I wore a sweater, and Adelyn asked me to help her zip her hoodie while it was nearly 80 degrees outside. 

As we walked up the ramp of the wild arctic exhibit, we heard this strange yell. As we got closer to the first enclosure, we discovered that the bizarre sounds came from Adelyn’s favorite sea animal, the beluga whale. I don’t think we could have timed it better if we had tried to. We showed up just as the trainers were feeding the whale. For the next forty-five minutes, we sat and watched as the trainers worked with the whales. At one point, Adelyn asked if her baby brother was a beluga because he made the same weird sounds when he was happy. The trainers had them dive deep, swim on their backs, and do vocal tricks for extra fish. When they floated on their backs, the beluga looked strangely human. I was later told that their cries sounded human underwater. It made me wonder if belugas were partly to blame for mermaid lore. As the whales came close, Adelyn would hold her stuffie over the net so they could see it. I warned her not to drop it in the water, and she said it would be okay because then her whale would be home with its mommy. 

I don’t know how I felt about that. Adelyn had made up her beluga’s life story as we drove to Sea World. She said that its daddy was killed, the bad people captured its mommy, and the baby was abandoned. That was until we adopted it, and the baby whale came to live with us. When I asked why her mommy was at Sea World, she said it was because the baby people hurt the mommy, and she couldn’t live by herself anymore. 

I have no idea where this child gets her imagination from. 

After leaving the beluga whales, we passed the harbor seal. It wasn’t very active. It was lying on its side, sleeping. Adelyn asked me if it was dead. I told her it was most definitely not dead, and if she looked closely, she would see it making silly mouth movements. She said, “aw, he’s boring when sleepy,” and we moved on to the walrus, who was the opposite of boring. Every time we’ve seen the walrus, they were lying around or being a cork in the water; however, today, they were zooming around their enclosure. Adelyn kept giggling at how big and fast they could move. 

We left the arctic and headed to Sesame Street, where Adelyn could ride all the rides. While I have a very adventurous little girl, she is tiny and can not ride the big kids’ rides. She immediately ran to the Slimy the worm ride and waited in line. She did really well as we waited. Looking around the area, she saw the roller coaster. She wasn’t sure how she felt about the ride. Mind you, the last time we went to Sea World, she rode it four times. After we rode the Slimy ride, we headed over to the roller coaster. Adelyn told me the line was too long, so we moved on. We walked around Sesame street, headed towards the characters where she also didn’t want to wait, and sooner than I expected, we were leaving. 

It was about a half hour until the Orca show, and I wanted to get a good seat. So we headed into the empty theater and headed to the center. She looked at the lower seats as we climbed and asked why we didn’t sit there. I told her that the area was the splash zone, and she scrunched her nose at me. While we watched the show, she was grumpy with me. But as the splashes got bigger, her eyes widened, and she told me, “mommy, they are so wet! And they smell like fish.” She was no longer upset with our decision to sit a little higher. 

After the Orca show, she asked if we could return to the belugas. I had no problem with that. The trip was meant for us to do what she wanted, and if seeing the beluga would make her happy, then why not. When we got up to the exhibit, she noticed something was missing… The whales. I suggested we go downstairs. Maybe they were playing underwater. As we passed the seal’s enclosure, it was empty. The walruses had trainers in their enclosure feeding them. Adelyn skipped the walruses and the seal and headed straight to the belugas. But instead of the giant white whales, one sassy fat seal was swimming around. The look on Adelyn’s face was priceless. 

“How did they escape?” she asked as the seal swam by the window. 

I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t know how or where the two giant whales went. 

As we left the wild arctic for the second time, she made up a story about how the belugas traded space with the seal because she needed more room to swim and that the belugas wanted to take a nap without people watching them. 

We spent the rest of the day walking around and watching the animals. It was so fun to see how excited she was to see animals she loves watching documentaries about. 

Before we left, she asked if we could go back to Sesame Street land to ride the carousel. As we waited in line, Adelyn noticed the little girl behind us. The little girl had been trying to talk to her mom, but the mom was too busy on her phone. I also noticed her trying to tell her mom what horse she wanted to ride and her favorite character. But as the child talked, her excitement faded. The mom never responded. She was scrolling through her phone, looking at TikTok. Adelyn, being the five-year-old that she is, loudly asked, “why is the little girl so sad?” I told her I didn’t know. But before I could ask her to keep her voice down, she boldly suggested, “maybe her mom should put her phone away.” 

I think I turned five shades of red. I don’t know why this mom was on her phone. Maybe she needed a mental break, but when you hear to put your phone away from a stranger, a child, for that matter, it’s rough. 

Thankfully, our turn to ride came up, and we boarded the carousel. Adelyn picked the orange horse because “it’s my favorite color.” It’s not my favorite. I hate orange, but it’s an inside joke with my family now. As the carousel went around, the mom took pictures. The little girl waved at her dad, and Adelyn told me she missed her dad. I asked if she missed her big brother, and she did yes. I asked her if she missed her baby brother, and she said, “I would if he was a sister.” The phone mom laughed at Adelyn’s response. I asked her, “Really, you don’t miss Bennett.” and Adelyn said, “yes, I miss him too. But why does he sound like a beluga whale?” I didn’t have an answer for her. 

I told her it was time to go, and she asked if we could ride the roller-coaster, and I said sure. We waited in line, and she was bouncing off the walls. I could tell she was tired. When she’s tired, she gets fidgety. We climbed into our car, and she yawned. “Mommy, I’m going to go to sleep.” 

“on a roller-coaster?” I asked. 

She closed her eyes and leaned her head on my arms. “yeeeees, ” she said with a smile. 

The ride started, and she opened her eyes. We quickly went around the track. As we rounded the corner at the end of the ride, she had a giant smile. She looked at me and said, “Okay, we can go home now.” 

Walking out of Sesame Street for the second time, she held onto my hand and closed her eyes. “I’m sleepwalking,” she told me with a silly grin. 

I picked her up and carried her gaps way over the bridge. But my child is a horrible kola. She doesn’t hold on. She is just dead weight. When I put her down, she whined about walking and how far the car was. She asked why we couldn’t just sleep next to the whales. 

By the time we got to the car, I think I was dragging her. She kept pretending to sleep while standing. Once we made our way home, she told me it was too cold… Even though she had two blankets. I called my husband and told him about our day and that we were on our way home. After I hung up, I looked into the rearview mirror and saw the grumpiest face. “What?” I asked. 

“I can’t sleep when people are talking. I need stories. “

I laughed, “isn’t that the same thing.” 

“No, because stories are fake, and when you’re talking to daddy, it isn’t fake.” 

I rolled my eyes and turned on her playlist. In about five minutes, she passed out. With no one to talk to, I switched the songs to my playlist, and for the next two hours, I loudly and horribly sang to every song. 

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 3: From delivery to postpartum preeclampsia: Sometimes a headache is more than just a headache.

I started writing this post when I was in the hospital and hopped up on magnesium. It’s taken much longer than expected to finish editing and publishing this post because of how raw and vulnerable this experience has left me. But here it goes. 

~ * ~

At the beginning of November, we welcomed my son into the world. Thankfully, his delivery was less traumatizing than his sister’s; however, I’m truly glad we’re done having kids. I don’t handle delivery very well, and c-sections are a major surgery I never want to go through again. 

Leading up to my due date, I had made it clear to anyone who would listen that the epidural I received for Adelyn’s delivery did not work. This had nothing to do with the anesthesiologist and everything to do with my lower back scoliosis and the absorption issue of having Celiac disease. Another problem with the epidural was that it was intended for a vaginal delivery, not a c-section. From what I was told and experienced, drugs given for a c-section are a whole other beast. 

So when speaking to the anesthesiologist for Bennett’s delivery, I made it abundantly clear how complicated of a medical patient I am. Aside from epidural issues, anesthesia and I don’t get along. There tends to be a lot of vomiting after I wake up or finish whatever procedure the anesthesia involves. The anesthesiologist was friendly and usually responded with a bit of dry humor I appreciated. After listening to my worries, he said, “Well, good thing this is my first time.” I laughed and responded, “Well, sir, I will put you through the wringer today.”  The nurse who worked with him promised me he was the spinal whisperer. He smiled and nodded, assuring me the spinal blockers work way better than the epidural I received five years ago. And since this is the scheduled C-section, we’d have everything squared away, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. 

Usually, one would think you would want to hear that you’d feel nothing when you’re about to have six layers of skin cut open. I certainly thought it was what I wanted to hear after Adelyn’s delivery, where I told the surgeons everything they were cutting. 

When the time came to make my way to the operating room, the nurses gave me the option to walk into the O.R. or be wheeled in. I chose to walk, knowing it would be a while before I would walk without pain. Upon entering the room, a nurse turned to me and said, “don’t touch anything blue.” Suddenly, I wanted to touch everything blue. 

As they lowered the table for me, one nurse commented on how tiny I am; I swear if this were a movie, it would be taken as foreshadowing. Every time someone brings up my littleness, something goes wrong, nothing haywire, just slightly skewed enough to cause me discomfort. 

While the anesthesiologist worked, he explained every step he was about to complete. He was keeping the promise he made while we were in my room. His reasoning behind the over-explanation was to avoid surprises, me jumping, or becoming overly anxious. 

But let me tell you. It doesn’t matter what the verbal cues and warnings you revive, because when somebody sticks a needle into your spine, it fucking hurts. There was a weird pulling sensation as the medication was injected. When he removed the needle, it hurt less, maybe because the foreign body was no longer present because it wasn’t from the drug. Getting the medication to spread throughout my lower half was certainly not what I expected. 

With a nurse at my side, he helped me rotate from sitting to lying on the table. Another nurse joked, “get ready for the ride.” and started tilting the table left and right, trying to get the medication to move throughout my body. 

Seriously, this was the worst Disney ride ever. 

With the table tilted, the medication flowed along my legs down to my toes. But the process seemed to take forever. The anesthesiologist was performing a poke test. He started with my side stating, “this is normal,” and then he would move to my legs and ask, “can you feel this?” If I answered, “yes, I still feel it,” I believe the table would move. I’m not entirely sure what happened anymore because those memories have blurred. I remember a lot of mechanical whirling sounds. 

While waiting for the lower half of my body to become numb, a different set of nurses and doctors ask me to move my legs into a specific position. This is where things get weird. After they asked me to bend my legs, I could no longer feel them. I could hear that they strapped my legs, and I felt these odd tingles, like when your legs fall asleep after sitting on them for too long, and in my numbed-up state, this was not okay. They strapped my legs down, probably to prevent me from moving them. No one needs to be kicked in the face while cutting out a baby. I kept trying to bring my hands down and move the curtain so I could see, but I kept repeating to myself, don’t touch anything blue, and wouldn’t you know it, the curtain was blue. 

Once my legs were numb, they brought in my husband. Waiting for him felt like an eternity. I understand why it took so long. They had to ensure that the spinal blocker worked. If it didn’t, I’m not sure what they would have done, but whatever the option, I don’t believe he would have been allowed to be present.  

The nurses had my husband stand on the left side of my head. They kept reminding me he was on my left and that I should go to my right if I had to throw up. Thankfully, I didn’t vomit. 

I thought I would relax when he entered the room, but I began vocalizing my feelings. He was there for moral and hand-crushing support. Although he said I didn’t crush his hand as badly when I delivered Adelyn, I still unknowingly tried to break his fingers. But that didn’t stop him from doing his job. Throughout the procedure, he kept laughing at my ramblings. Not allowing me to dive into my anxiety. Because this go around, instead of telling him where they were cutting, I spent most of it complaining that I couldn’t feel my legs and was NOT okay with it. Whenever I would revert to my legs, he would ask, “would you rather feel everything like the last time?” 

I couldn’t give him a straight answer. I didn’t like how my legs had disappeared and that I couldn’t move them. However, was feeling everything and being able to describe what was going on during the first c-section a pleasant experience… no. But apparently, I’m that much of a control freak. 

When I wasn’t rambling, I would watch my husband look through the window in the curtain. At one point, his eyes got huge. Looking back at me, he said, “Well, that was unexpected.” “What did you see?” I asked. “I’ll tell you later.” He said, shaking his head and muttering, “I never expected that.” 

Whatever that was only left me more curious because my husband has been to war twice. During his deployments, he’s seen dead bodies and people blown up and cleaned up said bodies and blown up pieces, but what was going on the other side of my curtain was what he thought was strange and unsettling. 

Not long after, a tiny, wiggling, screaming baby boy was moving past my husband. The nurse asked my husband if he wanted to cut the umbilical, and although he said no, I’m pretty sure it had more to do with the death grip on his hand than anything else. I know they laid the baby beside me, but I can’t remember much. I’m not entirely sure when they left the room, but I know it happened before they sewed me up. 

Being semi-conscious while surgeons sew you up is the strangest experience. 

I could listen and process the conversation, but my brain was too foggy to participate. Not like anyone was trying to talk to me, but they were talking about recusing Belgian Malinois and the difference between them and German Shepherds. It slightly irritated me that I couldn’t take part. I wanted to talk about the fur missiles. By the time I could figure out how to use my words again, they removed the curtain, and they moved me from the operating table to the bed they would use to wheel me into my room. It was insane that I did not feel a single tug when they sewed me up.  For that, I was truly grateful.

Looking back at those three days in the hospital is kind of a blur. I wish I could remember more because this time, my husband and I chose to splurge and get the Lilly Pulitzer hospital room. When I walked in, the bright colors of the room welcomed me. The total opposite feeling I’ve ever gotten when walking into any hospital room. As we settled, all I could think was, this is how every maternity ward should look like. Birth is a traumatic experience, even if everything goes right. Women should feel comfortable and relaxed. Even though we’re in the hospital, it doesn’t mean we should have to feel like we’re in the hospital. Believe me, the machines we are hooked up to do that enough. 

As we settled into the room, my husband saw a menu on the coffee table. Expecting to find maybe a list of meal times and telephone numbers, we were stunned at what was inside. It was a full custom-order menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I knew the room had a food upgrade, but I didn’t expect it to be lamb, lobster, or steak. 

After changing into a hospital gown, I sat on the bed and waited. From my bed, I could see the Intracoastal. It was lovely. We paid extra for the view, and it was worth every cent. I think seeing the water every morning kept me sane. However, there were times when the sunrise made my head throb. Or at least that’s what I blamed for my migraines. 

Before I went in for the delivery, we had picked out what we wanted for breakfast and lunch. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they had gluten-free bread. I think that’s what I lived on for those three days, because I had little an appetite. When I returned with my baby, I slept, missing breakfast, but I had lunch. A yummy turkey club sandwich and a baked potato. That I ate, but dinner was a different story. I was craving lamb. However, I was exhausted when the food got to our room. I remember eating veggies and passing out with the baby cooing beside me. The best part was eating what I was craving and not feeling overstuffed, like I wanted to explode.

Eventually, the nurses came in and took the baby. This is something I learned after having my daughter. Let the nurses take the baby so that you can sleep. 

The staff at my hospital was amazing. A nurse stayed in my room for the first hour, checking my vitals and ensuring I was stable.  They had a set nurse for my room throughout their shift, unlike when I had my daughter and never saw the same nurse twice. Because of this, the nurses noticed my blood pressure was getting a little high, nothing to worry about, but it wasn’t where it should have been. I chalked it up to the fact that I had just had major surgery and was in pain. Another thing that the nurses noticed was my left foot was still swelling. That happened randomly throughout the pregnancy, but my doctors would check me out, and everything was normal. 

By Sunday morning, it was time to go home. I packed all my belongings and was ready to take my littlest nugget home to his brother and sister. 

Being home again with a newborn was like riding a bike that kept crashing. Even though I had gone through this five years before, everything was similar, but so different. I knew what to do. I knew to change him before feeding and to go to the bathroom myself as well because you never know how long a feeding could last or if he would fall asleep during it, which he did. He was the sleepiest baby. He slept through changes and feedings and cooed at everything. 

While everything was amazing with the baby, things were not with me. My incision hurt and my head throbbed. I figured it was from getting up way more and not sleeping. Also, chalking it up to my amazing little five-year-old chatterbox wouldn’t let me rest as much as I did in the hospital. 

Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from my doctor’s office. They wanted to check on me and how I was doing. I told them everything was fine except I had a migraine for the last 24 hours. The nurse then asked if I could take my blood pressure, and I did. She stayed on the phone while I wrapped the cuff on my left bicep and waited for the machine to do its job. When it finally released the pressure, the numbers on the screen read something over 100. Until then, I’ve never paid attention to my blood pressure. I’ve always had low blood pressure, so I wasn’t sure what the numbers meant. However, the nurse was extremely concerned. 

“We can see you in the gardens office around,” she paused. “You know, just come in as soon as possible.”

I laughed and said, “I’ll be in as soon as possible.”

What made me laugh about that situation had nothing to do with my health and everything to do with the fact that I could not get to the doctor right away. My husband had just left to pick up our son from school, my dad was also picking up my daughter from school, and I wasn’t supposed to drive. So, as my daughter walked in, my dad looked at me and said, “What’s wrong?”

I told him I needed another favor. Not only to take me to the doctor’s, but to watch my daughter until my husband could meet me at the office. 

After we installed the car seat base in his car, we drove to the doctor’s office. I thought nothing was wrong. I knew my blood pressure was kind of high, but not really a big deal. I was in pain from a migraine that I was prone to get, and I had just had major surgery. I kept telling my dad they were overreacting. When I walked into the office, they immediately pulled me back and checked my blood pressure. It was still a big number, over 100. 

The doctor looked at me and gave me the worst news yet. “You need to go back to the hospital. They have to run more tests.”

“Why?” I asked. I was not arguing about going but wanted to know what was happening.

“I don’t want to speculate, and I hope I’m going overly cautious,” she said. “But I believe you may have postpartum preeclampsia.”

I just stared at her. “Excuse me, what?”

“The headaches, the high blood pressure, and you had a swollen foot during your pregnancy and recovery. These are all signs of preeclampsia.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I knew nothing about preeclampsia except what I saw on an episode of Downton Abbey. You know, the episode that Sybil dies in. 

“Okay, if I do have it, what should I expect? Like what could go wrong?” I asked.

She started listing a few things, but the two that stuck out to me were seizures and death.

By the time my husband arrived, we had planned to drop off my stepson at my mom’s while we took the baby to the hospital. I wasn’t thrilled. All I kept thinking was I have a headache. It’s not that big of a deal. When we arrived, I headed back up to the maternity ward, but this time I wasn’t in the fancy room like I had been when I delivered the baby. There weren’t any bright colors to evoke happiness. Everything was tan, with gray machines everywhere. 

The nurses took me back to the pre-op area, where they retook my blood pressure. It was still high. Another nurse came in with a few vials and took my blood. She also asked my husband if he could step out because she had to insert a catheter. They needed to check the levels in my urine, but I couldn’t pee in a cup because it would contain postpartum blood, which would contaminate the sample. 

When he came back in, he looked concerned. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked, knowing that none of my results were in yet. 

He looked at me and then at the baby. “The nurse said if you’re admitted to the hospital, the baby can’t stay with you. They said it would be too dangerous.” 

I wanted to cry. I’m unsure if it was out of frustration, fear, or pain, but I wanted to cry. He explained that even if we hadn’t left, they probably would have sent the baby home with him because the treatment I’d need to go through wouldn’t allow me to pick up and hold the baby safely. 

A nurse came in after we spoke and confirmed everything he said. I remember laying back in bed, just being done with the entire ordeal. She gave me blood pressure medication and a painkiller and explained what we were waiting on. None of it registered with me. All I could think about was I had no breast milk pumped and frozen for the baby. My husband would be home with a newborn and two other elementary-age kids that go to two different schools fifteen minutes apart. 

As the machines kept beeping, I stared at the numbers. They weren’t going down, and all I could do was repeat the word fuck repeatedly in my head. 

The nurse came in with my blood results. My liver and kidney levels were elevated enough to cause concern for my doctor, and the nurse told me I would be checking back in. This was not what I wanted to hear. I was not prepared in any way, shape, or form to be separated from my baby for a few hours, let alone for at least three days. I looked at the small bag that I had brought with me. I thought I was being overly prepared with my breast pump, cozy socks, and laptop, expecting to only be there for a few hours. Suddenly, I wished I had packed more. 

After they moved me to my new room, I kissed my husband and baby goodbye. I changed into the gown they gave me and sat on the bed, waiting for the nurses to hook me back up to the machines. I hate machines. I hate hospitals. And I was left alone with my thoughts. This whole pregnancy, I had an irrational fear that I would lose the baby or he would die after being delivered. Never once did I think my life was at risk.

The nurse who was in charge of me was really nice. She explained I couldn’t get out of bed once the magnesium drip started. She wrapped my legs into the pressure cuffs and gave me an extra blanket. The pressure behind my eyes had increased, and my brain felt like it was throbbing. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the bed. Now that I had a moment to breathe and listen to my body, it was obvious something was wrong. 

The magnesium drip flowed through me, and I felt drunk. When the nurse would ask me questions, my words were slurred. They were right when they told me I couldn’t get out of bed. The room was spinning, causing my head to hurt more. Finally, I fell asleep. Sleep postpartum is dangerous, especially when you don’t have a baby nearby to wake you. The nurse woke me at three in the morning to take my blood pressure medication. But as she administered the medication, she noticed how engorged my chest had become. I was so exhausted that I forgot to pump. 

I didn’t think the night could get worse, but it had. Not only did I feel drunk, without the fun part beforehand, but now my breast felt like they wanted to pop. 

The nurse asked if I had a breast pump, and I said yes, of course, but I had nothing to store the milk in. She laughed and said, “Don’t worry, we have plenty of things for that.”

I hooked myself up to another machine and waited for relief, but there was none. My ducts were clogged. I wanted to cry because everything hurt so much. I didn’t know what to do. Before when this happened with my daughter, I could take a hot shower and massage out the milk. But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t even leave my bed.  Finally, I pressed the call button on the remote. I needed help and was in the right place to get it. 

The nurse who woke me up returned. She was fairly chipper for 4 in the morning. I was never that happy when I worked the overnight hours. Nearly in tears, I told her I needed help. I couldn’t express the milk. She told me not to worry and left the room. She returned with a different breast pump in what felt like a blink. She told me it was the hulk of breast pumps. After showing me how to use it, I thought she would leave. However, she stayed by my side. Not only did she make sure that everything was working correctly, she helped me massage out the milk. I didn’t have the brainpower to fully process what was happening. 

The following two days were a blur. I lay in bed with machines beeping next to my head. My husband would bring the kids by after school. He brought me food and would bring home the milk I had pumped. My daughter was filled with an insane energy. I think her emotions were manifesting as a tiny ball of chaos. She did not like seeing me in the hospital, which I understand completely. It was hard enough on my husband, who understood why I was there. I can not imagine what a five-year-old was experiencing. 

My doctors and nurses would check on me throughout the day to see how I was progressing. My blood pressure was getting lower, and my kidney and liver levels were stabilizing. At three in the morning on the second night, the nurse told me I could go home if my blood pressure stayed in the 80s. I texted my husband and told him to get ready to pick me up because even though I had no control over my blood pressure; I was leaving this place. 

The phlebotomist came in and drew my blood. I asked her how long it would take to get the results because I wanted to leave. She looked at me like I grew two heads. She said no one would release me at four in the morning.

I went back to sleep only to be woken up two hours later as the morning nurse came in and started unhooking me. “Am I going home?” I asked.

“If your 8 am read comes back, yes, you are!” She beamed. 

My doctor came in at 7. She had a c-section scheduled at eight and wanted to check on me before I left. She explained how I needed to take blood pressure medication for the next month and to call if I got any more headaches. I told her I would contact her immediately if I felt the slightest bit off. She hugged me and left as the morning nurse came in to discharge me. I told her how much I appreciated the care I had received at the hospital, but I hoped never to see them again, and she said she hoped the same. 

Mommy Blogs

Finding my calm

This morning before my doctor’s appointment, instead of rushing from dropping off my daughter to sit in the parking lot and steal internet from the doctor’s office so that I could work on things for school, I decided to take a moment for myself and go to the beach. It’s incredible how much a little salt air can refresh the soul. 

It’s been a long time since I slowed down and appreciated the world around me.

I have been stressed out worrying about finding a sub for my students, ensuring their lesson plans are ready, and wondering if they’ll be all right. All while our house has been under construction for longer than I wanted.

I allowed that to stress me out instead of letting go and just rolling with it knowing my husband was working the fastest his body would allow. We are still entangled in the kids participating in sports nearly every day of the week. I truly was having unrealistic expectations of what we could complete and it nearly caused a mental breakdown several times.

This pregnancy has been much different than my first with my daughter. I cherished all the small moments and let myself relax and enjoy what was going on while this one has seemed to be a strain on my mental and physical health. But standing here watching the sunrise over the surf rolling in has reminded me of the amazing little creature living inside me.

I’m excited about my maternity leave this time. Unlike with my daughter, I will not be working at all through it.

I’m blessed that Bennett is arriving in the fall, so we can spend more time outside, not sweating to death.

After recovering from surgery, I plan on spending as much quality time focusing on myself, the new little baby, and my family. Work will always be there, but little moments like watching the sunrise with my kids or just enjoying coffee alone will not always be there.