The tribe of five

I know, I know, I’m a day late, but I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday so get over it! Of all the random, made-up holidays, #nationalsiblingsday has got to be the best. When I think of my sisters, the first thing that comes to mind is *lucky*. I’ve always felt so special to be one of the Collins sisters…It felt like we were a tribe and I was just lucky to be in it. Each of my sisters brings me so much joy and inspiration and without them I would be so different… I am happy and confident and self-assured because they love me. They are my best friends and the best women I know.

Little hands and big tears, the pain of a new tooth come early. He is beating all the records but this one isn’t anything to brag about. He’d been fussy and temperamental for days and then BAM, up comes a little white rock of terror in his sweet pink gums.

Yesterday was my birthday and it was different. It wasn’t bad, but it was very different. I guess it just reflected the change that I’ve gone through as a mother. In the days leading up to it, I thought I didn’t care. It wasn’t about me anymore and I thought I was okay with that. I even kept forgetting about it. But when they day came. When the night fell. I realized that I’m still the impatient, self-centered, demanding girl I’ve always been. Motherhood hasn’t changed who I’ve become- it just allows me to forget myself once in a while. I’m learning that the more I think about myself… The more I try to be happy, the less happy I am. And so I am grateful for my boy. For allowing me the joy of forgetting myself.

Tick tock, it’s time for bed.

It’s building up. All the working, and nursing, and cleaning… It’s like I’m doggie paddling in the waters of life and I just can’t get above water. Slowly drowning, I’m gasping for air. For a break. For some time.

I didn’t realize how, when you become a mom, the biggest thing that changes is that time becomes a slippery substance. Unable to be grasped, it slips through my fingers. I thought it would be the nursing, or maybe the lack of sleep, or even the millions of diapers to wash. But really, the hardest thing is time. Well, the lack thereof.

What do you do, mamas? How do you go to work, nurse your baby, keep the house clean, get to the grocery store, go to the doctor, grab a shower…. And some of you exercise on top of that?! Good lord! What am I missing?

Wet and Wondering

Pink tile from the seventies and the rush of fog over my face. The only time I am really alone with my body, naked in the shower. I rub my hand over my stomach- the stomach that I was proud of a year ago. The stomach that grew my favorite human, and that shows that struggle in the sag above my scar. I wonder to myself why it is taking me so long, why I don’t look at all like I used to. Why I can’t fit into any of my clothes. And as I squeeze the water out of my long ponytail- and am left with a hand full of hair- it hits me that beauty is fleeting. Why am I chasing something that, eventually, will always leave me anyways? This beautiful, thick hair that I grew while I was pregnant is now all falling out. And each year I gain new wrinkles, new grey hairs. Yet with those wrinkles, those grey hairs, comes wisdom, and freedom, and love. With each day that passes, each wrinkle I get, I learn how to be a better mother. A better wife, a better friend.

My new normal

It’s my second day back and I’m getting used to our new rhythm. In a lot of ways it actually isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I am going over to the daycare to feed T twice a day (we share a parking lot so it is very close) so that makes it indescribably easier. I had to take a paycut, though, in order to take these breaks. I would have had to take this cut even if I was pumping. I know it’s illegal but I can’t do anything about it until I get a new job.

Nursing in our little room at his daycare.

Nursing in our little room at his daycare.

On the positive side, I am actually liking having some routine in my life, which I never expected. But then there is the fact that I don’t get to see him smile nearly as much. What if he starts smiling for his caretakers more than me? He is pretty much tuckered out for the night by the time we pick him up at 5:30, so it feels like we dot get any quality time together. How do you mamas out there handle this? How do you compensate?

Modern feminism

There are some hardships of motherhood that can not be helped. Sleep deprivation, for example. But there are other times that being a mother doesn’t have to be hard… Until someone decides to make it that way.

I met with my boss to discuss the end of my maternity leave and what it would look like for me to return next week. Boy oh boy, I had NO IDEA what I was in for during this meeting. The first thing she said was that she needed me to be at my desk from 8:30- 5 with a break for lunch at lunch time. Basically, she doesn’t want me to take breaks to pump or nurse. When I tried explaining, she even said, “I don’t understand what you mean when you say you have to nurse.” SERIOUSLY?!?! You don’t know what will happen?!? Let me tell you: I will leak milk all over the place, will be in enormous amounts of pain until I properly release myself and I will get mastitis. After that, she proceeded to tell me that she has completely changed my job and given my office to the intern. I’m completely serious. I, meanwhile, will be sharing a conference room which also doubles as a hallway. Nifty, right?! It is clear to me that she is trying to force me to quit so that she doesn’t have to accommodate a working mother. Never mind that she was a working mother herself 30 years ago! #IRLbully

All this bullcrap has made me really understand that women’s rights are NOT a given and they definitely still need to be fought for. We still need feminism, people. Even in 2014. And even when your boss is a woman. Even if there were laws to protect women against this, most women could be walked all over anyways because who can afford legal representation? And who can afford to really lose their job. WHAT IF YOU LIKED YOUR JOB?!?! At this point, I’m not even going to fight it— I’m just going to find another job. In the meantime I’ll be taking a pay cut and becoming an hourly worker so that I can continue to breastfeed my baby.

What didn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Maybe one day I will get the chance to fight for women’s rights and protect other women who are being abused like this. I sure hope so.

Hi, Sprout!!

Baby Sprout is here! He arrived July 12– 8 days AFTER my due date– at a whopping 9 lbs 5 oz. I’ve been writing our birth story and I will post that soon… It’s been really hard to get through, though. It was definitely traumatic for me, both emotionally and physically.

welcome, sweetie!

welcome, sweetie!

So here we go again, on this NFP journey. They say that for the first 56 days post-partum, if you exclusively breastfeed, you are infertile. Well, we are coming to the end of that little grace period and I have to say… I’m terrified. I’m terrified that I will get pregnant again immediately. Just coming off being pregnant, and after such a hard pregnancy and delivery, I am very much NOT ready. So we will be extremely careful– as careful as possible– but the whole point with NFP is that we are trusting God’s will for our family. We know from first hand experience that if we are meant to be pregnant, we will be pregnant. Like I said… Terrifying.

There is one great comfort to me, though, and that is our little love, Thaddeus. He is the living proof that God’s plan is good. He is living proof that God’s plan is more beautiful and wonderful than I could ever imagine. So even though it is the hardest thing, here we go again, trusting God’s plan.

Ignorance is not bliss

As if God heard our prayers, and decided “today, I’ll give them mercy”, we are–miraculously–still pregnant. My doctor, who is fully trained in high-risk and endometriosis pregnancies, told me that she had no idea why I was bleeding. And she had no answer. She did all the tests she could, and could see no reason why it was happening. Call me crazy, but when science can’t explain why there is still a baby in my belly, I call it a miracle.

I have a friend who got married about 2 months before me and got pregnant immediately. And I remember thinking, damn. That must be REALLY hard– being a newlywed AND being pregnant– I’m so glad we’re waiting. But the funny thing is that now I think it is such a huge blessing. That we got pregnant after 3 months. There is this side of my husband that I had only glimpsed before we were pregnant. A side that is extremely and inexplicable giving and generous and selfless. At the risk of sounding like a brat, he does everything for me. He brings me juice in the morning, and my medicines at night. He makes the bed and does the dishes and cooks me dinner. I’m feeling better now, but for a while there I couldn’t do anything, other than go to work and sleep. And you know what? Despite how I totally doubted him, he picked up the slack. Times a million. And it makes me love him so very much. It makes me feel his love all day, everyday. Amazing how pregnancy really does bring a couple so much closer. Someone kick me in the shins, I keep forgetting God has a plan.

Limbo

And then, we were struck by Irony.

Hubs and I have been getting wonderfully joyful and excited for the little Sprout growing in my belly. We’ve been praying for peace and we found it, as much as I think it can be found in times of financial stress. We told our families and my best friend. I was extremely excited to go through pregnancy just six weeks behind my wonderful older sister. 

But on Sunday, I began to bleed. Just small amounts of blood. I tried not to worry very much. But then Monday morning, the bleeding continued, and my mucus took a huge turn. It went from being 2AD, everyday, to a huge amount of 10CK. That was alarming, as that can indicate possible miscarriage. As the day progressed, other symptoms began slipping away, and I slowly began to feel less and less pregnant. I know it is a black and white kind of thing, but it felt like I was slipping into it. Like this wonderful joy was slowly and painfully being pulled from my body, like some sort of punishment. Punishment for not being ready. Punishment for feeling terrified and unqualified at the beginning. 

Since Monday, the docs have been doing blood tests and today I had an ultrasound. Things are inconclusive. It looks like everything is in place and how it should be… except for the fetus. They couldn’t “find” that. This could go two ways. Either, A.) I am too early, and the fetus is too small to show up. or B.) I am in the process of miscarrying. We’re praying very very hard for option A. 

I won’t know for sure until Thursday night. It is going to be a long next two days. It’s funny though, because at this point, I feel like God really knows what He is doing. There is nothing like the threat of loss to kick you in the pants and make you realize how much you want something, right?

oops… we’re pregnant!

At the end of September, I had the first of two surgeries for my endometriosis. It wasn’t anything major– just a laproscopic exploratory surgery to confirm and map out the disease. Welp, my body didn’t think this was so trivial. In fact, it went full on nuts and decided to have a totally wacky cycle. I thought I ovulated super early, while having menses, but then I wasn’t sure, and then I thought that I was double peaking. So… sex was hard to come by. We were constantly nervous if I was ovulating without presenting the right signs, etc. And then ONE day, ONE time I had 10K (Clear, stretchy). The next day, I was dry. And here is the other thing… my second surgery was fast approaching, after which we wouldn’t be able to have sex for SIX WEEKS. no bueno. So that dry day… we took a chance. We didn’t realize we should have been “counting three“, because I had never encountered this experience of one solo day of peak-type mucus. (This would have been super easy to check… by flipping my chart over and looking up what to do….but again, we were very aware that we were about to have no sex for six weeks.) So we blissfully ignored the signs (somewhat) and did our thing.

Shortly after, I started worrying. So I took a picture of my chart to my Creighton practitioner and got and email back asking, “Did you intend to use a day of fertility?” OOPS. No- we didn’t. Anyway, I still kept trying to tell myself that I wasn’t pregnant. But I knew. I took a pregnancy test the Monday before surgery (which was on Friday) and it was… NEGATIVE! We did a quick high-five and went out a got and beer.

Friday rolled around– after weeks of preparing at work to take OFF for 2 weeks to recover– and I was more worried than before. I didn’t really believe the pregnancy test anymore and my boobs were getting bigger. I still hadn’t missed a period (this was all within a month) but I just knew. I told my nurse that I thought I was pregnant as she was taking my blood. Right before they were going to knock me out, Ford came back to give me a quick kiss. That’s when the nurse walked in with my blood tests. “I’m pregnant, aren’t I?” “Yup.”

So… we’re pregnant. We are terrified, scared, and I have to admit, angry. At ourselves, at the world, at fate, at Creighton. I am honestly in disbelief that this actually happened, considering the odds. But I have to accept that this is the way our lives were planned to be. So with that I find a little comfort. I’ve been praying for peace and for a softening of heart. Pray with me?