Monthly Archives: July 2015

Perfect weekend

Noah's Ark Houston

Quality Mummy-son time

2 1/2 years in, and I am definitely still adjusting to motherhood. 3 years in, and I am still adjusting to Houston. I have written before that I was unhappy for much of 2014, and 2015 was looking to possibly shape up in a similar way (albeit a little better). And honestly, partially because I don’t really recognize myself as unhappy (maybe a bit ‘flat’ or a bit ‘whiney’) until I get it right. Until I realize that I have made myself happy. That happened this weekend.

Saturday morning I took Sam to a kids’ swimming pool (Noah’s Ark) and we just had a blast. It was lovely to focus totally on him, and to be a big kid myself – yes, I climbed through all the water tunnels (so elegantly with my whopping bump), went down all the kiddos’ slides and picked Sam up and threw him in the water fountain (much to his delight). It was delightful, silly, exhausting fun.

I definitely did not look this cute on the slide

I definitely did not look this cute on the slide

Cue a stupidly large Mickey D’s, and then an unplanned nap on the sofa. Although I was woken by Sam waking from his nap (after only 2 hours! 3 hours at the pool is supposed to buy me more than 2 hours!)  he then played happily for several hours while I made a new card for my Etsy shop (<— still a work in progress) and updated my Stampin’ Up! blog. Pizza dinner, easy night down for the dwarf and then movie night with the Husband – we watched St. Vincent which was pretty good.

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Baby shower card

Today I played hard with the kiddo in the morning and then went and helped a friend set up her Stampin’ Up! website. She fed me lunch and I got a delicious frozen StarBucks on the way home. Sam woke the second I got home (again, after only 1.5 hours! What is up with this kiddo?) so we tidied the house together and then hit the garden.

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One of the best things Wes & I did was fence off a small area of our garden for Sam. We put in his sandbox, my hammock, and small IKEA table and chairs, a bench, a slide and a paddling pool. If Sam and I go out there I can get snatches of anywhere between 15 and 90 minutes to myself blogging, surfing the internet or reading. And when he does want to play, it’s easy for me to engage in water fights and sandcastles and chalk pictures on the wall. We usually have a blast and today was no exception.

Tea, Emma Bridgewater cup, biscuits for dunking, blogging and the boy playing happily - what more could I want?

Tea, Emma Bridgewater cup, biscuits for dunking, blogging and the boy playing happily – what more could I want?

 

We finished up with snuggles in the hammock – occasionally Sam will take his sippy cup and drink it like he would drink from a bottle as an infant, seeking out things to play with with his hands, his eyes going heavy and going into the ultimate snuggle mode – it’s BLISS.

Snuggles beats all else

Snuggles beats all else

Now the little one is in bed, I am finishing my blog post while eating delicious pecan toffee, and somewhere in there I even managed a face and a hair masque.

So – why was this such a blissful weekend? What made it feel perfect? It wasn’t tantrum free (you try telling a hungry 2-year old that is 1.5 hours past his nap time that he has to leave the swimming pool of awesomeness). I bought a new nail polish and don’t like it (damn you Essie). I didn’t get time to blow dry my hair and it looks a mess. I did, however, have time to really play with and engage with Sam – both at home and out and about. There was time for my hobbies, and some friend time. But what is most surprising, is that there was no work. Not a single email, nor a review. I didn’t open anything I am working on to poke at it, and yes, I let a few overdue things just sit in my inbox (I am certainly not luxuriating for time at work right now).

It’s odd. It’s uncomfortable if I think about it, and yet it seems like the most natural thing in the world. I realize that even 2.5 years in, I am definitely struggling to adapt to (working) motherhood. When I became a mum, I tried to carry on just like before – keeping work the same and fitting the kiddo in around that. When I couldn’t fit everything in, I dropped the ‘me’ things – make-up, skin care, crafting, blogging. I squeezed Sam in when I could (after a whopping great 3 weeks of maternity leave), and I did whatever it took to keep work going.

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My world

It’s not working for me anymore (sorry for the pun). Academia is hard – the way funding is (pretty nonexistent) it seems like a lot of input for not a lot of payback. At the end of the road, when I have focussed so much mental energy on work, and I have nothing to show for it it is hard to look at my beautiful son and think “I am glad I put you second” and “I’m glad I don’t know you as well as I could” and “Sure, I read you stories, and tuck you in, and I’m the one you run to when hurt – but I don’t mind having missed out on those little interactions that are your whole world right now”. It’s hard to look in the mirror at an uncared for reflection and say “I am glad I look a mess”. It’s hard to look around the house and say “I don’t mind that this doesn’t reflect my personality”.

I don’t have the answer. Academia seems to get harder and harder, and survival seems to depend on more and more publications and collaborations and grant submissions. And truly, I love what I do! When I can focus on my real work (not work I have foolishly agreed to do for others, so I am working on reducing that), I truly am fascinated by behavioral genetic questions and I love answering them and writing on them. But kiddos don’t wait, and papers don’t hold me at night. It feels like the wonder in Science is getting less and less, while the wonder in my son grows daily.

Yet, I still hugely look up to so many great Scientists. I cannot let the dream of being like them go. It’s clear that I need to reduce work. I also need to streamline what I do (focussing on behavior almost exclusively) and be much more efficient when I am working (less Facebook, more papers…). Yet, I am scared I cannot be successful like that. It’s hard to let go of the 24/7 work mindset. But I am also scared that I won’t be be successful continuing like I am, and I will have sacrificed everything anyway and be left with nothing. Perhaps these are the ramblings of the third trimester, but  I am scared of not having more papers than most people at my stage, of not having more grant submissions, of not having funding. I am terrified of saying no. Yet, I feel I have to take the plunge. I need to turn work off sometimes, and reprioritize when I am at work. I’ve never been like this! I have always been able to do anything and take on any task. I could work my way out of mediocrity. Perhaps this was the fearless I needed to be when I wrote back in January 2014. Anyway, I have to give it go. I have to make some changes.

Hammock snuggles are the best!! If not the most flattering angle ;-)

Hammock snuggles are the best!! If not the most flattering angle 😉

I have no idea if anyone else struggles like this – I see so many people having careers and personal lives seamlessly, but I am happy to go out on a limb for a minute and say: I am struggling. I am not getting it right. I am changing. I don’t recognize myself and I am worried that the ‘old me’ would have negatively judged the ‘new me’ (what a bloody awful confession).

I am optimistic, I am scared, I am excited, I am terrified. I have no idea how this will play out.

 

End of the second trimester

28 weeks, 28 week bump, second trimester bump

28 weeks

Doctor’s orders – I have been relegated to bed. Well, doctor’s and Wesley’s and just for the afternoon. We had a scan last week (all looking good. Bubble at ~50th percentile, currently no polyhydramnios, movement as expected but still transverse) and I mentioned I was having ‘rather a lot of Braxton Hicks, but this is normal, right?’. The doctor said no, nothing too concerning, but it was soon. We talked about the importance of rest (the nurse said ‘Are you still working?’ – Girlfriend, this is the US. I’ll be working in labor and again soon after!) and carried on with the scan. While scanning the nurse noticed how strong and how frequent my Braxton Hicks were, and worried a little more. She asked if I was a ‘Type A’ person and when Wes responded to the affirmative (why do I ever think it will  be a good idea to take him with me??) a lengthy lecture ensued on how how Type A people are problems and how they don’t relax enough and how the house should just be left – I was to work, but then at the end of the work day I was to rest.

28 week scan; second trimester scan

Alien baby. AKA one of those pictures parents think is adorable and the rest of the world can’t make out / get scared by.

Hello? I have a toddler. And a large house with a garden. That has a toddler in it. And I’m nesting. With a toddler. Did I mention I had a toddler? They don’t tend to respond well to ‘hey, Mom is tired, why don’t you just open yourself a bag of crisps for dinner and sit quietly? Perhaps you could bath yourself and put yourself to bed before, say, 8?”, Apart from the crisps part. Sam would happily comply with that.

Why I don't rest. This is him taking his scooter up the stairs of the water slide.

Why I don’t rest. This is him taking his scooter up the stairs of the water slide.

Anyway, Wes came back from getting the car detailed to find me following up 3 hysterical texts with a babbling about how we were never going to get the house in order for the cleaner coming. He looked around at 2 previously horrendous and now immaculate rooms (including a throughly cleaned and organized larder) and glanced regretfully down at his new fish purchases, seeing his Sunday of leisure fly away before his eyes. “You’ve been working hard haven’t you?”. “Yes! Of course! It’s never going to get done!”. He sighed. “OK, here is the deal. We set a timer for an hour, you go to bed for an hour, and I clear up. At the end of the hour, if you still think the house won’t be ready you can get back after it”. Seemed fair enough, so here I am in bed.

The second half of the second trimester has been way better. My exhaustion has eased somewhat and I can do some work and run the house a little. I don’t feel like I have the ‘flu 24/7. My nausea is minimized. I have found changing my diet up a bit has helped – adding in more protein, reducing fat, and lots of lots of salads, although I still think I have too much caffeine. I have also been seeing a great chiropractor who has made a big difference to my back pain. The heat (100 degrees and counting) and humidity is a challenge, but hey, that’s what air conditioning and pools are for, right? I am even considering finding time to go back to the gym as I am quite disappointed by how inactive I have been this pregnancy.

37 weeks with Sam

37 weeks with Sam

27 week bump second baby

27 weeks with Bubble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have suddenly grown – however. I walked passed a mirror with no top on the other day was did a double take – I am pretty sure I look quite like I did at 37 weeks with Sam. I wouldn’t mid, but with 12 more to go I am worried about how far this is going to go (!). Cliche though it is someone *actually* asked me the other day “how many are in there”. Bloody cheek! For those that care, I have gained ~15 lbs which is not bad for 28 weeks, so I’m not worried about it. Just generally disconcerted and surprised by the number of spaces I can no longer squeeze through.

And, I am oscillating between tearful sadness that this will be my last child, and my last pregnancy (Wes decrees it is so) and my dream of 3 children is ending soon, and cold, soul gripping fear at how we will manage with 2. I really do go between the two. I sit here in bed and think about how I always wanted 3 children, how I pictured them (although I pictured 2 older boys, 2 years apart and then a little girl 4 years later… so it was never going to be anyway), how I always thought it would be that way… And then I think about the practicalities of how it can take 2 of us to manage him at a party, and how hectic the mornings can get, and I wonder how we are going to deal with 2 in these situations. Of course we will, and many do, and many do with twins, triplets and more. But, you know, there is still some trepidation.

sick toddler 2 year old

It’s not always like this you know

Plus, it is nice to think about clearing out all the crap you have to store (fits with my crazy nesting instinct). We can slowly starting giving away / donating the car seats, bouncers, pack n plays, endless clothes etc. I am starting to think about how it will be nice to have the time and motivation to get fit again (a looooong way down the line, I am sure, and I am OK with that). And how I am slowly regaining my sense of me 2.5 years into Sam’s life (loving make-up, trying to hair styles, making some vague nod to fashion, even wearing – gasp – perfume), but I know it will go in the haze of postpartum life in a body that doesn’t feel mine so it will be nice to eventually get that back (again, a  long way down the road, I am sure). It’s positive, it’s just not how I pictured it.

Roll on the third trimester! These next 12 (I hope 12!) weeks will fly by, and I pray I will have some time to savor them too.

EDIT: OH MY. Lest anyone doubt I am bigger this time around and want to say ‘it is all in your mind’; this is how I looked at 29 weeks with Sam:

29 weeks with Sam

29 weeks with Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methinks the “secret” that I wasn’t very good about maintaining an active lifestyle between kiddos is out ;-). Oh well, I like to think I made better hair decisions this time around at least.