Come On Baby!

39 weeks along in this pregnancy journey. This week started out quite interesting too! I went to the doctor for the usual check-up. I had expressed concern about not feeling the baby move for the last day and a half. After Doc checked my dilation, she placed me on the monitors for 20 minutes to make sure all was well with baby. After the 20 minutes was up, which seemed to last 2 hours, the nurse came in and said, “Did you eat breakfast today?”. In my head, I’m thinking that was a trick question because, of course I ate breakfast. I wake up with a growling stomach every morning. But that’s the grumpy pregnant side of me. Of course, the nurse wouldn’t know that. “Yes”, I responded. “Hhhmmm, we’ve got to wake this baby up then”, she says. Wait. Now that feels a bit alarming coming after 20 minutes of monitoring. So the nurse sticks a taser looking tool onto my belly that made the sound of a household fire alarm. Then she says she’ll be back in a few to see if that does the trick, so nonchalantly. I was sweating bullets. Not feeling my baby move that whole time, I’m thinking, am I going to have to go to Labor and Delivery for an emergency? Is my baby okay? What’s going on? Why don’t these people reassure you with stuff like this? Anyway, baby was fine. Now, my doc wants to induce me on Sunday, two days before my due date. Which, I will respectfully decline if baby is still snuggled in there happy and healthy. Exciting news is that I am dilated to 2cm and having contractions! Things are in motion. Now if only a magic 8 ball could tell me if this uncomfortable-ness is going to last a few days or another week or two. That would be amazing! So now, with the news of progress, I’m officially in Let’s Get this Baby Moving!- mode. Meaning I’m going to be trying everything under the sun to keep these contractions progressing right into active labor.

 

To start, I picked up extra spicy Thai food on the way home, went for a walk with the dog, and sat on the exercise ball while I did homework. Still having contractions! Tomorrow, we’ll see what comes next in the list of things to try.

Strange/Crazy Ways Women Have Tried to Induce Labor:

Eating/ drinking certain foods:

  • Pineapple, mango, papaya
  • Eggplant (maybe I can convince the fiancé we need to go out for Eggplant Parmesan tomorrow)
  • Spicy food (#4 Spicy Panang Curry- Check!)
  • Drinking castor oil (because inducing diarrhea induces labor?)
  • Raspberry leaf or primrose tea

Movements:

  • Walking
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs
  • Bouncing on exercise ball

Other:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Sex
  • Bumpy Car Ride
  • Glass of Wine
  • Shot of Tequila (this was seriously on a few lists, which sounds awesome… post-pregnancy)

I may not make it through some of these on the list. As some sound down-right impossible right now, or a little too different for me. But it should be a fun week! See you tomorrow for the pineapple eating dance party I’ll be hosting in the living room.

Productive, Maybe?

A colleague of mine recently shared an article with me called “Science Proves It: Working Moms are More Productive Than Anyone Else”. This was interesting to me. When people have a large to do list; they are more productive. This completely highlights one of the biggest fears I have when looking at being a Stay At Home Mother. Will I become lazy? Not that SAHMs are lazy at all. There’s plenty to do. However, I am the type of person that if I don’t have a million things to do, I’m not doing hardly anything. In this day and age, it’s pretty realistic for moms to get glued to their phones or computers to seek the socialization and entertainment connections that I believe the workforce would naturally provide to them. Knowing my personality, I could be that person. Because I value connection, I would struggle with not filling it with social media.

These fears I have seem to be legitimate as there is research indicating that more moms are spending more time on the internet. Rachel Mosteller wrote an article for Parenting Magazine listing the “3 Reasons Moms Are Addicted to the Internet”. Moms want to not only seek information but a sense of community. They also want to escape once and awhile! You know be an adult looking at adult things, rather than strictly having conversations with toddlers.

All I know is that if I do choose to stay home, it will take a lot of self-discipline not to go down this route. At work, I am constantly learning, running around, and trying to meet deadlines. This is combined with coming home, cooking, cleaning and the sitting down to do the endless amounts of homework (which will end here in a few weeks). Isn’t that an interesting thought? I feel as if I will be more productive if I am doing work and being mom at once. Rather than just staying at home.

From Maiden to Mother

Just over 38 weeks into this pregnancy journey. Just over 8 weeks through this last semester of school. I have 1 week left before I go on Maternity Leave. 1 week. Anxiety has started to take over. Like really take over. The mixture of leaving my job for so long, finding the time and energy to complete this semester whole-heartedly, getting my house ready for the new arrival, and, you know, that minor event of the whole birthing process, has gotten me so high-strung I can’t concentrate. I’m actively trying to just take it hour by hour at this point. If I anticipate any further, I fall off of this deep end of worry, fear, excitement, and who knows what else. Luckily, I couldn’t ask for a better support system. My fiance has the patience of saint, my boss is completely understanding (even of the mental health day I had to take yesterday; right before my last week), and my sister is a standing rock that never waivers. She just injects these small amounts of strength and power into my soul each day. In all of this anxiety and preparation, its difficult not to feel as if I’m getting closer to a tremendous transition. Just waiting to cross that bridge between just being the working-graduate student to the working professional parent. A parent. A mom. A caregiver, A protector. I’m going to become so many things, assume many more responsibilities, in such a short amount of time. It’s a strange feeling.

In my search to understand this transition in a more symbolic way, I found the Triple Goddess and stages of womanhood. Ever heard of it? The Triple Goddess is a function of the Neopagan belief. This Goddess is made up of three women that represent the a different life cycle for a woman and a phase of the moon.  These divisions include the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The Maiden is the woman that exists prior to motherhood. In this stage, women grow up. They go through all the trials and tribulations of becoming a woman from puberty to adulthood. Dr. Linda Savage describes the goal of this stage as “discovering individual creative potential”. This is where I’ve established my values. My “me” if you will. This stage has allowed me develop and learn what is personally fulfilling. I value connection, hard work, and helping others. The Maiden stage ends with pregnancy and the birth of their first child.  In the next 10 or so days, I will be transitioning from this sense of self to the next stage of womanhood. The second stage is known as “The Mother”. The developmental task of the Mother stage is accepting responsibility. At this stage, I am to be constantly challenged after undergoing an intense shift in hormones. That sounds pretty accurate to parenting if you ask me!

I enjoy the spiritual perspective of these transitions as that’s what it feels like to me. I think once a woman becomes pregnant, life automatically becomes about the child. There’s a part of us that is almost lost or forgotten. Not intentionally, but as necessity to nurture the child. I don’t think there’s enough honoring of the lost woman. Or the woman that is becoming the mother. Essentially, she’s never going to be the same person again. The time before motherhood is person of the past.

There are attributes of this past person that will of course follow me into motherhood. I honor the person I used to be. I welcome the person I will become. It’s a beautiful concept to think of this life transition. I know it will only make me a stronger business woman in the future. Or now, depending on what role I choose to embrace initially. I want to encourage mothers to take time to honor themselves as they create or continue to create life. Positive affirmations, self-reflection, and awareness are some ways to do this. I’ve even seen some suggestions in writing a “An Ode to Self”. A goodbye letter to the woman that used to be. In order to formerly invite the new to come in.

The final stage a woman’s life is the Crone. The aged woman of wisdom. My career is based around the aging population and I belief this stage is not embraced as it should be. But that is conversation for another time as I have many years to get there.

I’m wondering if any moms out there have practiced this? Or what their thoughts are on the idea?

Maternity Leave Checklist for Work

The maternity leave checklist.

As these weeks continue to pass by, quickly, I find myself more and more anxious for the things I haven’t gotten done at work. My intentions were to have a smooth transition to where all areas were covered and I knew exactly how things were going to get taken care of while I’m out. As I stare down the two-week countdown, I am realizing that I haven’t quite gotten everything taken care that I need. The shortage in my preparedness is not out of laziness or exhaustion, although if I could cave into this exhaustion, I would. I dream of just staying home on most days and saying “screw it” they don’t need me today. But I force myself out of bed, like any other responsible adult, and stick to it. Needless to say, of course over the last several months I would I have severe staffing shortages making it almost impossible to do my own job for over two months while I filled the holes, recruited, hired, and trained replacements. Which has left many projects of mine unfinished. I ran across an Office Maternity Leave Plan, of which I should have read about months ago. Because now I’m sitting here feeling like a complete failure in having my crap together. I also feel an even more heightened sense of urgency to have everything perfectly in place before I leave, well, because what if I spend three months with this sweet little girl and decide that there’s absolutely no going back to work right now? I can’t just leave my organization high and dry! So the stressful count down has begun. Two weeks left at work. That is, if I don’t go into labor before then. Many working moms draft an official maternity leave document reviewing everything that has been set in place. I will be doing the same thing. Below are some steps I’ve taken so far, prior to two-week panic mode, to prepare for the leave as an upper-level manager in the workplace:

  • Communicated with the director of the department and direct employees on tentative maternity leave date.
  • Buckled down and got rid of all those piles! We all have them. Those piles of “will get to when I have time”. Time has been ticking faster than ever. It feels great to finally get through the stacks of paper that were just taking up space on my desk. It’s also improved some business relationships as I was aware of a few items that slipped off my radar or that I just plain dropped the ball in.
  • Assigned a fill in. In the local government world, hiring a temp is a laughable suggestion. It’s always the “do more with less” philosophy. Fortunately, the county I work for has a policy that allows an employee to get a 5% increase in pay if they assume additional responsibilities of a position while someone is on leave. So I “promoted” one of the supervisors I oversee. They’re an excellent employee and could use the challenge. I’m really glad they get to be compensated for it as well.
  • Communicated with external customers. I feel like I’ve been saying “well when I’m out, this person can handle that for you” like a broken record. But it’s necessary. If I’m not communicating this to the external customers, then I am providing an opportunity of our working relationship to get damaged.
  • Empowered and reassured direct reports that I have trust in them to carry the weight while I’m gone. This was the best decision I have made with my employees. I have had one call me and say, “Thank you for trusting me”. This reassurance and baton toss to my team has done wonders already for my rapport with them. They feel empowered to take charge and I trust them to do so.

It’s not going to be easy to walk away from my position for three months. However, I’m grateful for FMLA, the support of my organization and boss, and paid time off! It will all work out. Things will be okay. Things will be different when I return, but that’s okay too.

Do you think a mom should share with her organization prior to maternity leave that she is hesitant about returning? I’ve found it’s been helpful to talk about with my boss. She’s even been able to provide some insight on what she thinks she would have done differently to balance work/home life.

Returnships Shed a Positive Light for SAHMs

37 Weeks pregnant and 7 weeks into the last semester of grad school. I’m officially tired of being a walking comment board. “Hey mamma, you look like you’re ready”, or “Hey mamma, you poor thing, you look so uncomfortable”. Why must people intentionally point out the most obvious? Yes, thank you kind sir, I AM struggling. It’s uncomfortable to do just about anything at this point. Let’s not forget the all too frequent “you’re huge!” compliments my co-workers and family have decided is an appropriate way to verbalize their observations. Just a few words of wisdom for anyone that knows a pregnant lady: you will completely make her day if you refrain from these remarks and simply talk to her like she’s still a person and not just a walking womb. If you say, “you look fantastic”, even if she doesn’t, you might give her that extra boost of confidence needed to get through the afternoon without having a complete meltdown. She will forever be grateful for you.

Today, my friend, is a bit of a ranting day so I apologize if you’re not as fired up as I am. I’ve been doing a lot of digging into this SAHM life and I’m finding a whole lot of societal pressures, judgements, expectations, and assumptions that are placed on moms. It’s interesting because I’ve never seen these perspectives before. Possibly, I just grew up with an automatic respect for the mom role. In researching I often find articles that say things like “don’t rush to throw your jammies on too soon in the afternoon” or “you’re worth something, don’t let other’s make you feel like you’re not”. Maybe it’s just me but who the heck cares if a mom wants to wear her pj pants at noon? I know that the self-worth is a common struggle for moms because they aren’t financially contributing to the household and society makes a point to criticize and belittle that aspect. But I say screw that perception. The mom role is just as important as making money for the household.

In my mom-life internet trolling, I came across a term that addresses SAHMs returning to work. It’s called a “Returnship”. My initial reaction to this included a bit of eye rolling and a few “are you kidding me?” internal remarks. But, when I settle my emotions a bit (pregnancy hormones tend to make me a bit feisty) I think this concept is a great step for moms returning to work. I’ve spent years on the hiring and recruitment side of organizations. I can’t say that gaps in employment, even if it is for the amazing reason of staying home to raise your children, do not hurt an applicant’s chance at landing a position. This is because when you have the choice between someone that is actively practicing the skills consistently over someone who USED to practice the skills, you’re probably more inclined to pick the person that can jump in and take things by the horns right away. Now that I am in a different place in my life, I look back and feel regretful of the many times I could have given these moms returning to work a chance. In the long-run, it may have benefited the organization more.

So what is a Returnship? “Returnships are fixed-length, paid placements geared to those who exited the workforce for two or more years, often to take care of family”. These differ from internships in the sense that these are moms returning to the workforce rather than college graduates stepping into it for the first time. There’s actually quite a bit of tech companies that are recruiting for returning moms. Path Forward is making it happen for them.

Path Forward is a non-profit organization that helps caregivers return to the workplace by working with companies to develop a mid-career internship. 80% of the women that have participated in the program were hired by the company they interned with and 90% are now employed. As a soon-to-be mom, contemplating leaving the workplace and intimidated by the challenge of returning, this brings me hope. Companies like PayPal, GoDaddy, and Volta are signing up to be companies with a Returnship placement. These companies are showing respect for the work women are doing as caregivers and offering them an opportunity to show their expertise in the workforce again.

If you’re interested in Path Forward here is a link to their website: http://pathforward.org/. It was founded by Matt Blumberg from Return Path. He sounds like an incredibly supportive husband and father.

Returnships are a progressive approach that provides opportunities for women in a dignified way. Instead of a 10-step “How to get our of your PJ’s at Noon” approach, the non-profit is actively creating a connection between caregivers and getting back to work. Its wonderful.

The List for Staying Home

Ok so I think I’ve danced around the reasons of why I’m much more fit to be a career oriented person rather than a SAHM. It’s probably time to examine the reasons why I’m even contemplating staying at home. When the SO (Significant Other, since I speak in acronyms now) and I initially talked of the option, he mentioned how nice it was for him growing up to always have his mom there. His mom stayed at home and raised him and his siblings. He talked about never feeling alone, always feeling like supported, and how nice it was not to have to go to a babysitter or after school program all the time. I listened to him with a bit of envy. My mom worked 3 jobs to support us all. We not only felt the stress of the financial burden but the emotional exhaustion that she was constantly fighting. I don’t look back, as my fiancé does, with the same appreciation and gratitude. My appreciation stems from the work ethic I developed for having to get a job at 15 to help make ends meet. No doubt that hasn’t shaped me into the working bull that I am. However, when I think of my childhood, I often felt alone. At a young age, my sister and I were, most of the time, left to take care of ourselves. We made the best of it by teaching ourselves to cook at a young age. We made a bit of a game out of trying new recipes. To this day, we still compete in the kitchen. We fixed our own lunches and arranged our own school activities and transportation. We learned a very sophisticated level of independence.

Because of the way I grew up, I have always promised myself that I’d provide a completely different life for my children. I’ve always wanted to be THAT mom. You know, that friend’s mom you always yearned to have. The one that always brought fun, creative snacks to class, hosted crazy awesome slumber parties, and always seemed to understand. I know that’s all just a fantasy I created in my head. The real world is so different; everyone’s equipped with their own stories and struggles. But I’m excited to surround my children with support. There could possibly be a happy medium to support the family both financially and systemically.

Aside from wanting to fulfill the dream of being the most amazing, supportive, creative mom a child could ask for, there are several other reasons I think about:

Weekly Blog 2 Reasons

All of these reasons lead to why I think I could, potentially, possibility, become a SAHM. It seems like such a rewarding (and busy) job to have. This part of the decision also doesn’t involve one of those horror stories you hear about day cares or nannies. I have very high expectations and can already see my condescending/controlling side coming out full force when a childcare worker does something “I wouldn’t do”.

When I look at the values I listed a few weeks back, they are centered around connection. As much as I am conflicted or don’t feel like a mother just yet, I can’t ignore the connection I already have with this little girl. It’s miraculous to feel her tiny little movements grow stronger by the day. My underlying value of connection changes as those movements gain strength. I absolutely can’t wait to see what her future holds.

SAHMS

Week 36/6

I think I’ve finally hit the nesting stage. Not at home but at work. Today is casual Friday. You can find me waddling around the office in a messy bun (the ugly kind, not the cute kind) with the seam of my belly band fully visible under my bright orange shirt. I’m officially at hot mess, nine months pregnant and ready to get this labor thing over with. Sleeping is incredibly uncomfortable. This morning I woke up to pee and my belly was fully contorted to the right. Baby girl decided curling up in a tight little ball on the right side of my rib cage while I was sleeping was the best place for her. It’s seriously the strangest feeling know there’s a little human in there balling up and using my bladder as a little pillow. Speaking of pillows… either my belly is sufficiently large enough for the fur baby to use as a pillow, or he’s also very ready for this baby to come.

Blog 1 Pic

I don’t think I’ve ever been this organized at work; but someone’s taking over my job responsibilities for the next three months and I’ll be damned if I don’t make it look like I’ve always had my crap together. Plus, I want to make sure they don’t miss anything. 3 months of reporting is a lot. Hence the work nesting.

The field I work in is primarily made up of women. Most of which are working moms. They all reassure me that it will be hard to come back at first but that I’ll get over it quickly. I’m sure they are right. However, I just can’t help to think I might be drawn to the latter, and not want to come back period. This week I’ve learned quite a bit about this whole Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) topic. .

There’s always this reoccurring defense standpoint in the societal and philosophical definition/description of a SAHM. The internet is full of moms defending their SAHM roles. Justifying that it’s a jam packed day of toddler-solving crisis’, chauffer driving, cleaning, cooking, and managing any other thing for the household that needs to happen. I can absolutely imagine that it is. I’m sure its probably the hardest job one could do (SAHM or SAHD). Speaking honestly, as I promised to do, that job description just doesn’t sing to me. I don’t feel this overwhelming sense of urgency to fulfill those shoes. As magical as this pregnancy has been, I still don’t feel like a mom quite yet, so I can’t relate. But I can organize spreadsheets and files like a true diagnosed OCD person. So that’s what I’m doing today.

Apryl Duncan wrote an article for The Spruce titled, A Sample Day in the Life of A Stay-at-Home Mom. It’s a very accurate reflection of what I would imagine a day for a SAHM to be! It also makes me want to me think “NOPE! I am totally coming back to work at the end of week 12”. There’s something about having such a monotonous routine that sends shivers down my spine. Now, I’m not saying its not something to be proud of, or something that isn’t worth all the recognition in the world. Because it truly, truly is. But I’m not that guy (or girl)… I don’t think… Not yet.

I know what you’re thinking now. Sounds like I’m set on coming back to work right away, right? That all my posts resort to why I love working and how the SAHM life isn’t for me. But that’s not it at all. Working is the only life I know. I’ve never been a mom. I have no idea how it’s going to be. All I know is there’s a little bug inside that keeps telling me that my world is about to drastically change and I should be prepared, and ready, to make a very difficult decision. Even if that decision IS to return to work, I need to trust that internal compass telling me to think about it. Everyone should.