Motherly Confessions: I Like to Be Away from My Kids

Harsh truth time: I’m a mom who likes being away from her kids.

I came to this realization when I was a little past the halfway point of my maternity leave after I had my second son Noah. I was one of the lucky few people in the U.S. whose employer offered a generous maternity leave (i.e. paid and longer than a few weeks): in all, I had roughly six months total of paid time off both to recover from childbirth and to bond with my newborn baby. And throughout that time, I had an opportunity to reflect on my motherhood style.

I undoubtedly cherished every minute of my leave (and, for the record, I would never exchange that time off for anything in the world, and I fundamentally believe that: one, this country needs to mandate paid parental leave for all types of parents, and two, we need to destigmatize parenthood, particularly pregnancy and motherhood, in the workplace… but I digress, as that is a topic of conversation for another, much meatier blog post). However, I realized during that time that I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better head of household, and, in truth, an all around better person when I spend some time away from my kids.

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A Letter to My (Unborn) Second Child

Dear Baby Bean #2,

First off, I apologize if Mommy and Daddy seem a bit preoccupied. Days, weeks, and months pass by, and I realize that I haven’t so much as read you a book or sang you a song or gave you a gentle love tap through Mommy’s growing belly.

I assure you: it’s definitely not because there are more important things going on in our lives. And definitely not because we don’t think about you or have forgotten about you.

That’s the furthest thing from the truth.

It’s nearly impossible for the days, hours, minutes, seconds to pass by without you, Little Bean, entering my thoughts. Especially because you never let me not think about you, with your constant kicks and dances.

I’m so grateful for how much you move. Every movement helps me to learn about you a little bit more and more. 

I can tell you’re going to be a bit of a firecracker, which both warms my heart and terrifies me to no end.

Daddy and I would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge that you’re going to keep us on our toes. It’s an inevitability.

When I think about your pending arrival, I get nervous. Not because I’m scared to meet you. Not even because I don’t think that Daddy and I will know what to do (not that we’re professionals — I just know that when I meet you, I’ll be able to figure out what you need).

No, I think I’m nervous because I know that I will love you so much.

My heart has already been full.

With gratitude and joy and unconditional love for the life I’ve had over the past few years. For the people that I’ve been fortuitous enough to surround myself. Especially your daddy and your brother and your fur-brother, your aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. There are so many people that I have given so much love to; it’s hard to imagine having the capacity to love anyone or anything else at this point.

But I know that’s what will happen: my seemingly already-filled heart will inevitably expand a bit more to accommodate how much love I’ll undoubtedly feel about you.

That much love is hard for me to comprehend.

So, I’m just writing to let you know that I’m anxious to meet you. I’m eager to meet you. I’m counting down the days, Little Bean (but also, selfishly, crossing my fingers that you’re cozy enough in my womb that you’ll wait those five more weeks until you’re “supposed to” make your grand entrance into this world).

We’ll see you soon. And we can’t wait to love you — with all our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Love,

Mama Bean

My Second Pregnancy Struggles

Disclaimer: this blog post is super ranty and whiny and does not, in any way, shape, or form, represent my feelings toward my soon-to-be-born second child.


I’m a little over 34 weeks into my second pregnancy, and all I have to say is this: it has been a huge struggle.

My sister, my doctor, my mother, my aunts, my co-workers — basically every woman I know who has experienced multiple pregnancies — have assured me: feeling this much physical discomfort and pain during my second pregnancy is completely normal. Which, I guess, is supposed to be a comforting sentiment.

But, admittedly, my increasingly disgruntled (and, therefore, increasingly pessimistic) self just can’t help but grumble: this sucks so much.

I’m sure I’ve shared this with you all before, but I’ll say it again: I’m honest with myself and know that I’m not one of those women who particularly enjoys being pregnant. Granted, I love my children, and I’m so thankful that this nine-month journey ends with a little being that I somehow simultaneously love so much and can’t seem to love enough… But the journey itself?

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

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Mother’s Day 2018: A Quick Ode

It’s my first Mother’s Day. And while the weekend was both low-key and eventful (main highlights: a lot of downtime at home with my three best guys and an emergency visit from the paramedics when Micah had an allergic reaction to formula), it’s also given me an opportunity to reflect on motherhood in general and, specifically, what that means within my life.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I want to recognize that who I am as a mother has only come to fruition because of a few notable individuals around me. So here are a few thank-you notes to a few important people in my life…

On my first Mother’s Day, I can’t help but feel extra grateful for everyone who has helped shape me as a mother — especially my baby boy.

 

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Getting a C-Section, Pt. 2: The Weirdest Delivery Imaginable

To all those people who’ve said that a C-section is “easy,” I have one thing to say in response: sure, I may not have pushed a baby out of my birth canal, but getting a C-section has undoubtedly been one of the most surreal and hardest experiences of my life.

People would ask me about my C-section, if I felt any pain, if I were conscious, how the surgery progressed and felt. And all I could say in response was: it felt sterile and all too medical.

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Bright Spots: Discovering the Ocean

This past Saturday, Reggie and I took Micah on a day trip to Monterey and Carmel. Reggie had a beachside engagement shoot scheduled with a couple of clients that evening, so he asked if Micah and I wanted to spend some time together on the beach while he worked.

I happily obliged: I can never pass up an opportunity to walk barefoot in the sand.

When Reggie and I separated so he could get to work, I strapped Micah to my belly, took off my shoes and socks, and paced the shoreline as the sun slowly but surely dipped toward the horizon. I savored the coarse sand on my soles, the biting ocean water lapping over my toes, the cool breeze on my face.

Close to sunrise at Carmel Beach…

 

And, after much longer than I probably should have realized, something dawned on me: this is the very first time Micah has seen the ocean.

And I immediately shifted my focus from the distant horizon to my wide-eyed son. And I smiled at the pure wonder and curiosity on his face. “That’s the ocean,” I told Micah. I explained to him that this was the home of all the creatures we saw earlier at the aquarium. I pointed out the waves, coming and going in a steady rhythm; the kelp scattered around the shoreline; the seagulls gliding overhead.

But, mostly, I tried my best to simply observe him. How, as I walked along the shore, he turned his head from side to side in order to keep a close eye on the water. How he kicked his feet in joy as dogs raced past us in the sand. How he craned his neck and reached his chubby little fingers toward the trees above us. How he blinked rapidly and stuck his tongue out at the ocean breeze, maybe to feel the wind on his tongue, maybe to taste the salty air.

This is the first time Micah has seen the ocean, I realized. And I am so grateful that I am with him right now.

Because, in the midst of all the chaos of first-time parenthood, I sometimes forget that I have the privilege of witnessing a little human being experience the world for the first time. And that is an awe-inspiring thing.

Getting a C-Section, Prologue: #CesareanAwarenessMonth

I woke up last Thursday morning to an Instagram direct message from my mom: an illustration of a woman cradling a newborn and sporting a slightly crescent-shaped scar across her lower belly. April is Cesarean Awareness Month, the message read.

As her daughter who delivered via cesarean section over half a year ago, my mom obviously wanted to send me a little acknowledgment and a little love.

And that message warmed my heart.

Firstly, because I didn’t even know Cesarean Awareness Month was a thing — and I thought that was freakin’ awesome. And, secondly, because cesarean sections (more commonly known as C-sections) are traumatic medical procedures that are fairly common yet still frighteningly misunderstood. And the women who undergo them — who have to endure ignorance, misconceptions, and judgment, in addition to lengthy recovery periods — need some acknowledgment and some love every once in a while.

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On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)

I apologize for being MIA for the past couple of months. Once Micah got sick with the flu, Reggie and I, unfortunately, couldn’t get back into a life rhythm. So, understandably, my writing fell by the wayside.

And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s blog post: that struggle for new parents to find a rhythm. More specifically, a rhythm for self-care and self-love.

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Dealing with a Sick Baby

Micah hit an unfortunate milestone this week: his first sickness. More specifically, his first bout of the flu. Which has made for a very tumultuous past few days in the C.B. household.

Looking back, it’s simultaneously funny and miraculous how we even discovered he was sick: it was because our DVR malfunctioned. For whatever reason, my recording of Sunday’s post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” was botched. And, because I couldn’t bear to go to sleep and wake up to spoilers all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I re-activated my Hulu account and waited until midnight for the new episode to pop up on the streaming service.

And thank God that happened. Because, while waiting to watch the new episode, I realized that my sleeping baby was sleeping a lot longer than usual and was making an odd whistling sound while snoozing.

So, for whatever reason, Reggie and I decided to take Micah’s temperature. And lo and behold — he had a 104º fever.

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Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen

It’s here.

After almost five and a half months of maternity leave, I’m finally returning to work. I knew that this day was going to be filled with a bunch of emotions — but, despite everyone’s warnings, I couldn’t have anticipated how intensely those emotions would hit me.

Honestly, there’s a part of me that’s eager and excited to return to work. That’s the part that suffered major cabin fever while on leave and yearned for some type of routine other than nursing my baby around the clock. The part that’s looking forward to conversing with other adults about things other than cradle cap care and feeding schedules. The part that can’t wait to see my work friends and be back in the city and work on something for me, for once.

Don’t get me wrong: I recognize how lucky I’ve been to stay with my baby for as long as I have. Nearly half a year of parental leave is a rarity in the U.S. And, bottom line, I would never exchange the opportunity I had to bond with Micah for anything else in the world. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey, but I know that Reggie, Micah, Henri, and I are all a little happier because I spent this time at home.

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Enjoying breakfast at The Press on my last day of maternity leave

But I also know me. And I know that I would’ve always wanted something for myself in addition to being the best mother possible for my boy. Which is why going back to work always felt like an inevitability to me.

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