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Recognize

I’m not in a season of publishing most of my writing. As a writer, it is hard to admit this, but it’s my truth. I’m in a season of reading, observing, and soaking up my summer time with my son. And I’m also in the expected season of renewed self-discovery with the identity shift that momming brings. Sometimes, though, it takes my keyboard to help me fully form the things I’m learning.

I’ve been reading a book I never would have picked up on my own called “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries. If you know me and know about Proverbs 31, you know I get my feathers ruffled by about 90% of the people who use this passage. So much so that I’m going to link an article at the end to help people realize that the woman described in that passage was a lot more like Wonder Woman than domestic goddess.

OOPS I went on a tangent in the introduction.

OOPS I went on a tangent in the introduction.

Why to Read

Regardless, this book has been extremely helpful for me as my identity has expanded to include that of Mom. A lot has changed since baby boy, but a lot hasn’t. What this book is providing is a way to reflect on the before and after and reset boundaries as is more necessary than ever now that it’s not just mine and Mike’s time being questioned.

Case in point for why I’ll admit I need this book: one night, two close friends and I were sitting around thinking of one word to describe each of us. They both used the word “driven” for me, and my own word wasn’t far off. Heck, the name Emily itself means “industrious.” I don’t do sitting still well. And I certainly don’t do anything half-heartedly. If what I’m working on doesn’t bring joy, I cannot continue it.  But if it fulfills ideals, then watch out! The downside of this go-getter mentality is time. There simply isn’t enough physical or emotional space to do everything that I want to or everything that I’m asked. That’s true for all of us, and it was true for me even before motherhood.

This book has several filters to put requests or plans through to make sure that it fits before saying yes. That it is truly helpful towards meeting goals. I’ll admit I skim past some of the anecdotes, but the technical aspects of it have been eye-opening. Reading always brings along introspection and reflection, and through this book I have discovered a deeper truth about myself.

People Pleaser?

There is a lot in this book about saying yes in order to please others. Honestly, I have considered myself a people pleaser for years. Primarily because I THRIVE on feedback. As far back as I can remember, when I received back a paper I had written without at least a paragraph of commentary, I was devastated. The same is true professionally today; I crave getting feedback. I think I’m one of few teachers who look forward to being on an observation year. I might as well have a sign on my forehead that says “TELL ME HOW I AM DOING WITH SPECIFICS AND AS MANY WORDS AS POSSIBLE PLZ THANKS!” I assumed this meant I was a people pleaser. Yet, last year, while reading the book “Growth Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck with the rest of my building, a contradiction became more clear. This book talks a lot about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. It showed me that I am intrinsically motivated…but that contradicts my deeply embedded need for feedback. Or so I thought.

Looking back, I am a bit surprised I didn’t analyze this contradiction more thoroughly. Except that I am a Gemini, and sort of use to personal dualities. And a new mom. Who was largely sleep deprived last school year. Regardless of why, I didn’t second guess this information about myself too much. I continued to tell myself that regardless of receiving clear approval, I could be content in my work. I tried to make that my reality, but it didn’t solve this nagging need.  It took an incident on a sidewalk in Evanston, Illinois to click the pieces together, turning the puzzle into a clear picture.

I was walking just behind my dear friend, who was carrying her almost 2 year old daughter. An elderly woman walked past us, smiling warmly at my friend and her girl. As I was just a few steps behind with my own adorable bundle of joy in my arms, I’ll admit I expected the same reaction. Instead of focusing on adorable Augustine, however, her sharp brown eyes fixated on my left arm’s tattoos. She shook her head and scowled. Now, this didn’t really upset me. I sort of laughed, and I remember thinking to myself that I signed up for being noticed, for better or for worse, when I decided to get visible tattoos. And I truly didn’t care what she thought of me…but wouldn’t a people pleaser care?

THE ANGST OF SELF-REFLECTION

THE ANGST OF SELF-REFLECTION

Maybe Not…

So I continued to read The Best Yes and dwell on this people-pleasing picture of myself that contradicts so many areas of my life. I thought back to how comfortable I am challenging others, even risking their opinion of me. But then I thought of how upset I get when I am misunderstood or disliked/unfriended as a result. I thought about myself in high school, constantly getting in trouble with the administration although in reality the worse thing I did was oversleep and thus arrive late. But I dressed like a punk, and so I was treated like a punk kid. And it still bothers me, although I continue to dye my hair bright red and that whole tattoo thing. I thought about professionally, how I often know deeply I am doing good things for my students but if it ruffles feathers I am questioned or worse. And I realized something big. I am not a people pleaser. Pleasing people is not what I am seeking when I crave feedback. Approval is not something I have really ever concerned myself with. It’s something different; it’s recognition.

Recognition to me doesn’t mean that you agree or adore what I suggest or work on, but it means that you are willing to look at it and see where it came from and/or where it’s going. I didn’t need my high school vice principal to like me. I didn’t and still don’t care what people think of my physical appearance choices because I didn’t and still don’t do these things to create an image that pleases anyone else. But I did need her to recognize that I wasn’t doing drugs, drinking, or smoking. I was academically unchallenged and dressing the way I did because of Christian punk rock bands and discovering Hot Topic. That’s all it was. I don’t need my superiors at work to hold me up on a pedestal. In fact, if they did and I knew I didn’t earn it, I would be uncomfortable. What I crave is their knowledge of what is happening in my classroom and their questions as to why. It’s far more about others understanding me, my work, etc. than it is about others liking any of these components. Having the Board of Education tell me they were going to help me fight for license conversion because they saw my transcripts and test scores and believed in the difference I could make for students felt a lot more meaningful than the certificates of achievement I received.

That last example brings some light to the fog of my confusion all these years about what really drives me. Because sometimes recognition does look like approval. And I am human, so I’ll own that feels pretty neat sometimes. But approval alone isn’t satisfying to me. Another way I have realized this is my post-baby body. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on how great I look. My body bounced back quickly. Like freakishly so, compared to my expectations. But I didn’t really do anything to ensure that. I had no control over it. So those compliments make me uncomfortable (which may be another issue I have to work through).

Writing this feels a little uncomfortable, too, because there are some descriptions of things that I recognize can sound like bragging. Which connects to my whole desire to be understood. I’m good with you disliking some of the things I’ve shared about myself…as long as you recognize that I shared them in an effort to be understood and maybe – just maybe – help someone else understand themselves. Recognizing ourselves is important to keep that intrinsic motivation going, after all. And it CERTAINLY helps with decision making and boundary setting!

*The link to the promised article about Proverbs 31/Wonder Woman!

Augustine’s Date of Birth is November 13th

Not just my Auggie, but the Saint for which he is named. We didn’t name him because he was born on this day; rather, I like to think he was born on this day because we had already named him Augustine.

But who ever really knows why babies come when they come?

Augustine’s due date was November 22nd or 26th, depending on the medical professional that you asked. I picked Thanksgiving as his due date since it fell on the 24th in 2016, right in the middle. Like almost all pregnant mamas, though, I began to think that maybe an early arrival wouldn’t be so bad…then again, November rolled around and things were far from “ready.” But the midwives assured me he wasn’t in any position to come early, so I kept my preparation pace slow and steady.

Until Friday, November 11th. Driving home from school, I was hit with this burning desire to get groceries and make some returns and purchases at Buy Buy Baby. I was exhausted, but I just *had* to do it. It was inexplicable. The next day we had planned to go to Indianola for the day to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Mike had to fix one of our cars, so he couldn’t go, and while I could have gone myself, this same strange and driving impulse pushed me to stay home and finish baby prep. I was irritated about it. Irritated at everyone and everything, but I could not resist the impulse.

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You’re seeing where this is going, right?

That night, Mike and I took Dad to see Doctor Strange. During the movie, I’ll confess I was drinking a LARGE Pepsi. #cravings. Auggie was kicking around like crazy, and at one point I felt/heard a pop. I attributed it to the bubbly goodness of Pepsi, and took it as a hint to slow down on the soda guzzling.

I mentioned it, though, so let’s jump ahead to 11pm that night, when I got up, as usual, to pee. What wasn’t usual was the extra…liquidity. A coworker had told me just a few days before how she wasn’t sure if her water broke, because things were just a little extra-extra. No big gush like in the movies, no contractions. This was in the back of my mind, so I decided to call the midwife but not wake Mike because probably nothing, right? The midwife said to wait an hour and see what happened. If things kept up the same way, give her a call. So I went back to bed, still not waking Mike, and laid there. My thoughts went something like this:

This is totally not happening. Duh. I’m going to sleep.

This is probably happening. Crap. I haven’t graded the Greek/Latin Roots Pre-Test yet. Maybe I should go do that now, just in case.

You know what? This isn’t happening. I’ll grade tomorrow afternoon. I’m not even going to call back.

I should definitely go dust the house. I haven’t in weeks. That should be done before the baby comes, if this is happening, which it probably isn’t. 

An hour later, the signs were pointing to “it happening.” No contractions, though – which is what made the midwife demand we head in right away. It was about 1 in the morning. I finally woke Mike up – you know that startled gopher of internet fame? That’s about what happened when I whispered “Hey babe? My water broke.”

We grabbed our bags, adding some other potential needed items (who really knew at that point what we would need!) and headed to the hospital. That drive down Woodland was surreal. It was dark, but not cold despite it being November. I texted the parents, maybe even called my mom. I’m confident that if I had been having contractions, it would have felt more real. Probably urgent. It wasn’t at all what I had expected, needless to say.

A large group of nurses and staff were hanging out at the counter when we were buzzed in to the maternity ward. They were all smiling; I want to remember that. It set the tone for the delivery – one of welcome and warmth. We had to hang out for a couple of hours in the triage room while they jumped through hoops of confirming that the by now obvious leak of amniotic fluid was what it was. While that sign of labor was apparent, nothing else in my body was ready. This was when I was grateful that I’d taken my labor & delivery nurse friend Allison’s advice and not gotten married to a birth plan. You can’t be disappointed in a plan not working out if you don’t have one in the first place! The first midwife, when she made her final check, said that we should prepare for an epidural because of the Pitocin we’d be using. “Pitocin already means that you aren’t having a natural birth anyway,” she said. I remember it with the permission it granted. She even told us a story of another patient who had a similar birth story and how the epidural was super helpful – and the comfort that brought was on a deeper level, because I was 99% sure I knew exactly who she was talking about. :)

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As you probably guessed, I had to be induced. They got us to a room, told us to try and get some sleep, that we would be induced around 6:30am. This was around 4. I did not sleep. How could I? I emailed my work to let them know that I wouldn’t be in the next day. I continued live-tweeting the experience.* And soon enough the midwife showed up to do some final checks before she started the Pitocin. They hooked me up to the IV, and Mike went home to let the dog out one last time before my dad could make it over to house where he would dog sit for the next few days. We thought we would have a good amount of time before the Pitocin did its thing, but I don’t think Mike even made it to our house before the contractions started. Pitocin is NOT A JOKE.

The next 4.5 hours or so were spent with contractions. It didn’t feel like that amount of time. It didn’t feel like anything. There were only 90 seconds of slamming contractions and a brief 30 second respite between them. I had to be hooked up to all of the monitoring things, but thankfully I could still move around a little. The nurses (who were the best people on the planet, may they be blessed forever) kept offering suggestions for different ways to sit, lay, squat, etc. but the only thing I wanted was to sit on the giant exercise ball. It was like:

Me, content on exercise ball. Eating a popsicle and breathing through things while gripping Mike’s hands.

Nurse: Here, try getting on the bed on your knees with your face in this pillow but don’t move but do move or lay on your side but don’t lay down or walk around the hall even though ungodly things are just leaking out

Me: tries half/refuses half. Hates everything but the exercise ball. Demands exercise ball and twitter.

I did try the jet tub for awhile, but that felt like drowning. I think I actually almost drowned my nurse. She smartly encouraged me to relax through contractions, not grip the edge of the tub, so she took my hand to hold it reassuringly but then contraction so I almost pulled her in. Oops.

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Mike and the aforementioned nurses were incredible support systems during this time. I felt strong…until I didn’t. After the tub, the uncontrollable shaking and exhaustion were hitting me hard. I couldn’t take it anymore; I asked for the epidural. The midwife did her job and asked Mike about my intentions towards epidurals before the pain of contractions set in. I remember reminding everyone (loudly, perhaps? Whose to say!) that I never said I was above an epidural. Mike said the right thing. I don’t remember what it was, but it was right, because the call was put in. When the anesthesiologist finally showed, she was the worst – yelling about shutting off phones all while hers was ringing full blast (and yes, she took the calls.) But finally the medicine kicked in, and I SLEPT. I slept for two hours, and I still daydream about those two hours as the last moment of restful sleep I may ever have.

At that point, the nurses and midwife checked me out and told me to “labor down” for an hour. I still don’t know what that means, but whenever I tell medical people, they nod very knowingly, so you know it was a good choice.

When the midwife came in, that feeling of warmth and welcome really took over. The epidural had taken not just the pain edge off, but the nap it allowed had helped me focus on the moment instead of the what-ifs. Between pushing, we all laughed and talked about a variety of things like haunted houses in Iowa, what people assumed about us based on our looks (one of the nurses was very tall and very tired of the ol’ bball assumptions). I remember Natalie, the midwife, asking right away if I was a runner based on my breathing and I felt this moment of pride! that was quickly squelched as she told me to stop it and breathe out in the opposite moments of what I had been doing. There is no room for pride in labor and delivery. (Nor shame – I have never cared less who saw what was in, on, or about me).

It took two hours of pushing to get Augustine out, despite calling in the rest of the instant-infant care team prematurely (this is absolutely not what that group of professionals is called. But I don’t know what they really are called.) I didn’t mind the extra people in the room, though, because that welcome/warmth and joyful laughter theme was only extended by their presence. Everything was peaceful. Everything was happy. I will always be thankful for this blessing; I know this isn’t the experience for everyone. Despite the epidural, I could feel just enough of everything to feel like I knew what was going on – when to push, when to stop, but no pain. For real – that drug is pure magic.

Despite the long labor, Auggie didn’t go into distress until the very end. His heart beat started to slow. We got some scissors involved real quick (if you know what I mean) and then the next thing I knew, as I pushed with my eyes closed, Natalie was saying “Take him! He’s yours!” and I had no idea what she meant. I opened my eyes, completely in shock that he was out! She handed me this chubby blue baby, who was probably crying, but all sound blurred into something like a melody as I held the most beautiful being I had ever seen in my arms. The nurses reminded Mike to take pictures, and while he did, I remember locking our teary eyes together, messy crying out of pure love and disbelief. I wish that I had a photo of him from that moment, but I don’t think I will ever forget it.

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While I held him, they scrubbed at him a little, but since he was pretty blue they took him under the lights right away and had Mike go with. My eyes followed that baby everywhere he went, my heart forever chained to this external representation of love before anything else on earth. I know that Natalie was giving me instructions, but I couldn’t hear a word of anything until that boy was back in my arms.

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Augustine Lewis was born at 4:13pm on November 13. He was 7 pounds, 3.7 ounces, and 19 inches long. Gratitude is second nature thanks to this blessing. Whether it was the super blood moon that weekend or too much Pepsi giving him a caffeinated kick that broke my water or the fact that he wanted to share a birthday with his eponym, November 13, 2016 was the most amazing day of our lives.

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*For those interested, and for documenting purposes, here are the live tweets:

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Four Month Sleep Regression

Auggie had a bedtime complete with routine before he turned 4 months old. He had gone from getting up the typical every 1-2 hours as a newborn (& taking 40+ minutes to nurse. Seriously.) to every 3-4 hours with an occasional 5-6 hour stretch (& taking only 15 minutes to nurse!). It was great. I even mentioned it with his 4 month picture post…I should have known better than to so clearly tempt fate.

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I have decided I have a Developmentally-Type A-Baby, as it all went away the very week he turned 4 months old. We escaped colicky/purple evening cries, but we clearly did not evade the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. Every 30-90 minutes, he would wake up crying. Every night around 9:30 he would begin screaming, without even being awake. It was upsetting, to say the least, to have my baby transform into a howling non-sleeper. I was worried about him despite all the reading I’d already done in an attempt to prepare for this phase. I knew the science behind it. I knew it was normal. Nevertheless, this worry grew to encompass Mike and I as days passed…and we realized why sleep deprivation is considered torture.

However. I am a woman of action, even with no sleep, so I contacted every mom I knew who had mentioned sleep issues or training. I bought and read two books  within 48 hours. I started implementing a variety of things in my own hybrid training program. We kept to the bedtime routine but moved it from 8 to 7. I did everything to break his nursing-to-sleep association, thrilled when an expert said all bets were off after 2am so I could just give him the boob, bring him peace, and put him to bed at least part of the night (it’s NOT an easy habit to break). I made sure lights were dim and avoided conversations once bedtime routine started; just books, prayer, songs, then into bed sleepy but awake.

I always secretly hoped he would stay asleep longer “this time,” prayed the gamut of prayers: pleading, asking, commanding, complaining. But we were lucky (blessed?) to get one good 3 hour stretch a week. It was ROUGH. Our conversations were constantly short, often misunderstood, and yet we would take the time to clarify understanding each night to make sure we were good; we both knew sleep deprivation was making everything hard. This intentional communication was also (take a guess) tiring, despite its importance.

I wanted to move Auggie to the nursery as soon as this started, and after a few weeks of debating if it was best (CDC or FDA or someone official says keep baby in your room for the first YEAR) plus being too damn tired to actually get his bassinet and sound machine moved in there, we did it. We kept him in his bassinet at first because research (right?), and honestly it worked a little. He started doing 2 hour stretches for the most part, although bedtime itself remained tough. It was better but still not good. So motivated once again with this strange confidence that comes from “why the heck not nothing is working anyway” stage of parenting, I moved him to his crib. Well, that? He hated. Too much space to move around in! Unfamiliar! And while I anticipated that, it was still a bummer. I wanted sleep more than anything. Not just mine; I wanted my family to sleep. It was my mission. It was time for the one part of sleep training we couldn’t be consistent on yet: could we let him cry it out? So far, it had been a resounding and unified no. If my baby was actually crying, not fussing but crying, I had to go to him. Mike felt the same. But it was the one thing we hadn’t tried. It was there in the back of my mind, wiggling forward.

Then came Auggie’s 5 month day. Part of me would joke that he was so determined to develop on schedule that maybe he would just sleep better now. Part of me fully believed he would be 10 years old and still waking up every 2 hours. Equally logical predictions, I feel. That day I had book study with my mom and sister in law, Jen. At the end we prayed. Jen prayed for Augustine and it was different; I could feel it. She prayed in a way where she addressed the need and then claimed it as a done thing – thanking God for the better night’s sleep ahead – and that was that. I have heard prayers like this before, but in all my nightly laments, it hadn’t gone there.

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That night was also a decider in whether we could do CIO. Emboldened by the prayer, and by the clarifying-a-miscommunication conversation Mike and I were trying to get through, I let Auggie yell for longer than usual. I should also note, it was clear to me for maybe the first time or maybe a true change, that he wasn’t crying. He was yelling. He wanted his way. This was confirmed when the pre-determined two minutes passed and I got up to go give him his pacifier and calm him – but before I could get to his door, he paused. HE PAUSED. I waited, he squawked, paused, yelled again and I made a decision.

I turned around and sat back down.

I knew that he’d turned a corner developmentally. He knew to yell to get us to come in. Mike and I sat there, watching him on the monitor, dumbfounded. Eventually the fuss game turned to tears, so I went in, gave him pacifier and hummed a song (while leaving him in his crib instead of picking him up) and thinking our typical night was about to ensue, I went back out once he was calm. But the night wasn’t typical. He did four hour stretches of sleep. FOUR. It was miraculous.

So far it’s becoming our new normal. He wakes up twice or maybe 3 times a night, 3-5 hours a stretch, to feed. It’s beautiful. I am happy to go in and pick up my boy and snuggle him close for those 15 minute moments of stillness. I always loved holding him and nursing at night, but the regression took the joy to an anxious place. It’s made me appreciate the 4 hour stretch instead of envying the early all night sleepers that seemingly all of my friends have.

I’m sure that this journey is familiar to many parents, but I still wanted to write this part of our story. It has shown me how strong you can be off of no sleep. It has also shown me how weak. It has shown me how deep parental love is; how embedded with welfare decisions that don’t come with guarantees. How impossible it is to be selfish – I actually cried one night because I just wanted to be selfish for one day. One hour even! But it isn’t part of my life right now. And as a very selfish person, I think this is a hard-earned good thing. I’ve learned there are no black and white answers with parenting; I can’t be perfect at it, and there are A LOT of things that I cannot control. Robbed of my two favorite coping mechanisms, I’m learning to learn who my son is, and what he as an individual needs. There’s freedom in that.

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I hope that this post brings a laugh, some nostalgia, and some perspective to anyone who finds it from a google search on this infamous regression. For further reading, you must turn to this. It is the best thing about sleep training on the internet. :)

Typical New Mom

A blog post about motherhood. It was bound to happen. It’s what moms do, right? That thought is why I’ve been avoiding this post. But then I thought about what I do – I as in me, since online thought sharing became a thing – and what I do is share my story online. Or at least pieces of it.

This post could and probably will get pretty cliche. I’ll try to avoid it, because I desperately want my friends without kids to read this, too. Of all the cliches I’d heard before and dreaded, one of the most painfully real is how social lives change after having a kid. I want to build a bridge somehow to fix that. #dreambig

Another cliche that’s come to fruition is that love thing; the love a parent feels for his or her baby really does border on indescribable. But I don’t think it’s an exclusive ticket to a parents-only club. At least I don’t want it to be.

Then there’s the marriage shift. And the parental shift, as in, how differently things look between my parents and myself with this life change.

Lastly, I want to talk about the me shift. The fears and realities of an identity that (I see now) must inevitably evolve once that baby is placed in one’s arms.

First up: Friends. I’m gonna be straight with a lot of you guys; you don’t invite me out anymore. You’ve stopped asking me to hang out. You’ve even stopped with the Facebook event invites. Could you rightfully assume I wouldn’t be able to make it? Probably. But the message received was one of ignoring or not liking, not consideration. FYI. Why do we do this to new moms? I’m sure I did it, too! But TBH, while giving birth involves medical professionals for good reason, it doesn’t come with a quarantine. I’ll get to the identity struggle in a minute, but I think it’s super important to let new parents know that they’re welcome even if not expected. In fact, it’s probably great for us to get a break from the intensity to hear from friends who’ve had kids and made it AND from those who don’t and can talk to us about those other, still important parts of our lives. I guess I’ve realized that moms only hang with other moms because for the most part, that’s whose rallied around us. Not because we don’t want our other friends. (Special shout out to my ladies who have been there throughout! You beautiful unicorns know who you are).

Why is that important? I used the word intensity because everything about new babies is intense, and mostly in really good ways. Intensely cute. Also intensely messy. But mostly the intense kind of love that goes beyond “aww you’re precious.” Yes, it’s love at first sight – including the 10 week ultrasound we had – but it’s also falling in love with this tiny little stranger who has needs and routines that take awhile to master. It’s crazy beautiful hard and more “natural” in a very National Geographic wilderness kind of way – not a “so easy always intuitive” way. It’s good to hear from other parents because y’all have so many suggestions one of them is bound to click! And it’s good to hear from non-parents because chances are you’re part of someone’s child rearing village and I don’t think biological reproduction alone qualifies anyone as an expert. It’s also good to hear from anyone about work gossip, entertainment news, book talks, insert-non-parenting-interest-Here. Because while the world rightfully revolves around that new little bean on one level, and always will, parents actually are still people. Something that is definitively logical yet easy to forget. I want this kiddo to have healthy, well rounded parents. That’s part of the intense love thing; loving him enough to figure out what’s best for him and then doing those things.

Which brings me to the shifts in marriage and between myself and my parents. I have sooooo much more grace for my parents now. My mom will attest to that (she actually pointed it out and I wasn’t even offended. Evidence!) And Mike and I have thankfully become an even stronger team. I know that isn’t always the case, and I can totally see why, so I’m grateful. There was something magical between us during labor and delivery that’s carried past, where communicating needs is easier and more clear as are meeting them. I couldn’t imagine doing this without Mike.

That shift to comfort in dependency is a big part of how my identity has evolved. Probably for the better. It is humbling to realize how challenging yet amazing I have found parenting. I honestly didn’t fully expect it to work out for us, so my expectations were nearly nonexistent. Nevertheless, one thing I was genuinely afraid of was losing my drive. Losing my passion for my career. And losing my love of writing. In some ways, exhaustion of new parenting has borrowed from those reserves. They’re rebuilding, slowly, but it’s bizarre to see my biggest fear start to happen and be too tired to care that much. I can voice that now, 4 months in, because they’re coming back. But I definitely was surprised to see how easily and even happily I added “mom” to my identity when I thought I surely wouldn’t change that much. I wouldn’t be “that girl.” I don’t like proving myself wrong. As my Instagram feed became the Auggie show that I swore it never would, I laughed at myself because when on maternity leave in winter, what else am I going to take pictures of? When I felt the emotional cocktail of joy at being back at work mixed with guilt for feeling joyful mixed with an intense sadness at being away from Augustine mixed with gratitude to my mom for watching him plus a dash of fearful jealousy that he’ll like her better…once again, I’ve arrived at cliche.

When I found out we were going to be parents, I really wanted to avoid being cliche…but now I realize that’s just another cliche anyway. Parenthood is amazing. Exhausting. Rewarding…yet draining. It’s everything you’ve ever heard. And that’s kind of amazing, too.

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