A Day in the Life of a Working Mom

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Let me start by saying that I have truly no idea how Stay at Home Moms or Work at Home Moms do it. I’ve had my short stints of doing both of the former and I can safely say that is not the life for me, and I salute you. I think no matter which way you slice it; a mom can look at her current situation and pick it apart for what it is. I am a working mom.

I freaking love my job and I love being able to work. I’m fully aware that childcare is insanely expensive so my paycheck essentially goes straight to daycare, but I truly love what I do for a living. But being a working mom is HARD (let me reiterate again, I’m not stomping on SAHM or WAHM). I once read that being a working mom equates to 98 hours of work a week. Oh, that’s why I have these bags under my eyes. Every day is its own bag of crazy and I look back to my pre-kid life and wonder just what in the hell I did with all of my free time during the day. Let’s break this down.

5:00 a.m. The baby is crying and needs to nurse. I pull him into the bed and shut my eyes while he eats. I’m starting to make a to-do list in my head for the day, but instead I’m trying to soak in as much sleep (and cuddles) that I can. 

6:00 a.m. My husband’s first alarm goes off. DO NOT WAKE THIS DAMN BABY.

6:10 a.m. My husband’s second alarm goes off. I SWEAR TO GOD.

6:15 a.m. My husband’s final alarm goes off. I have been awake since the first went off and have been since clutching my baby in the anticipation of hearing Africa by Toto bellow through my bedroom once more.

6:30 a.m. I was up several times last night with the baby and am definitely not ready to get up, my toddler is set up in the living room watching Dora or PJ Masks or Paw Patrol, or something. Who knows. It’s all the same (go ahead and judge me for the screen time, it’s survival mode and I do not care). I lay in bed with the baby next to me and catch up on local and national news on my phone.

6:40 a.m. My toddler comes into my room and wants to crawl into my bed with me and the baby. He has armfuls of stuffed animals. I allow it. We do shadow puppets on the ceiling using the flashlight on my iPhone.

6:45 a.m. Wow, I definitely should have gotten up an hour ago, but here we are. Get the toddler breakfast and grab myself a cold brew out of the fridge. Baby is in the bouncer. We are good to go get ready for the day.

7:15 a.m. I have enough dry shampoo in my hair that it feels like straw, but I managed to put my makeup on and I’m wearing a clean dress. Win. I think about how I need to start working out to lose the baby weight. I laugh because I realize I have no idea when I’ll have time to accomplish that.

7:45 a.m. For the past half hour, I have wiped my toddler down, chased him through the house, put him in time out (maybe twice), gotten him dressed, changed the baby’s diaper, and downed ANOTHER cup of coffee.

7:47 a.m. We need to leave by 8 a.m. and I also need to pump because I’m in pain. SHIT. I scramble to get my pump parts together (why are there so many, WHY?)

7:49 a.m. Pump while checking my email. Track coverage for my clients and make notes of who I need to email once the clock hits 9 a.m.  

8:02 a.m. Clean all of the pump parts and dry them, pack them up in my bag for work and triple check that I have everything (because man does it suck when you forget one of the things). Put the milk in the fridge and get the toddler’s backpack together for daycare. Remember that I need to grab a form for something for the school off the fridge minutes before walking out the door.  

8:04 a.m. Kiss the baby goodbye. He’s staying home with my mom. I have a feeling of self-doubt about leaving him behind so I can go to work. I freak out about him forgetting who I am. I reassure myself that growing up with a working mom will make him value and appreciate strong females. Remember I need to take my medicine for Postpartum Depression. Grab that before I walk out the door.  

8:15 a.m. The toddler fought me on who got to walk down the stairs first on our way to the car and requested that I put the “Baby Shark” song on prior to us leaving the driveway. We then proceed to listen to that song on repeat six times.

8:40 a.m. My sweet kiddo was so excited to go to school and drop off was a breeze. I have a feeling of self-doubt about leaving him behind so I can go to work. I freak out about him growing up and not remembering me being around him when he was little. I reassure myself that growing up with a working mom will make him value and appreciate strong females. 

9:00 a.m. Get to work and start cranking out emails and creating my to-do list. I proceed to kill it at work and listen to music that isn’t from Mother Goose. Life is good. I remember that I have a meeting at 11 a.m. This is also the time that I’m projected to pump. Do I do it before or after? I choose before.

10:30 a.m. I pump and prep for my 11 a.m. meeting. I hate washing pump parts more than anything. ANYTHING.

12:00 p.m. I eat two lunches. Breastfeeding and pumping make me eat like a 17-year-old boy. Nothing to see here, move along.

1:30 p.m. I just got done with lunch and now I have to go pump again. Good thing I have 20 more emails to address in my inbox! I have another meeting at 2:30 p.m. and I need to pump again around 4:30 p.m. I don’t want to cut into the end of my work day too much so I’m going to push it. I also need to make it to my son’s soccer practice (which his dad is picking him up for, thank goodness).

5:00 p.m. I’m past my pumping time and I’m hurting. I need to pump in my car and make it to my son’s soccer practice. I proceed to fumble with my pump parts (those damn pump parts) in my car and pump on the way. Yes, I get weird looks in traffic. Don’t care. I try to listen to NPR and re-establish what is left of my sanity.

5:15 p.m. Somehow, I made it in 15 minutes in rush hour. My toddler tells me not to look at him. Fantastic. Following soccer, he is back to loving me again. I can’t wait to see my other baby, too.

6:00 p.m. We somehow get dinner thrown together, pack lunches, and get our life together. The baby is super happy to see me and that makes me happy. I wonder about his day and feel that mom-guilt creeping in.

7:00 p.m. The hour between 7 and 8 p.m. in my household is batshit crazy. Baths and jammies and snacks and water and stories and needing to go to the potty’s and the list goes on. The baby is asleep and now it’s the toddler’s turn. We need to sing three sings, tell two stories, solve world hunger and get the hell out of there before the cycle starts all over again.

Following 8 p.m. it’s essentially a blur of me trying to catch up on work, spend time with my baby and get my life together for when it starts all over again the next morning. I am a mother and I am a working woman and I love both of those things. Some days I feel like I kill it and others I feel like I’m drowning. On days where I have work events or when my kid is sick, I can feel myself problem solving and figuring out a way to manage it all. I don’t think I ever do this 50/50, it’s usually 70/30 and sometimes I feel like I’m not doing a good job either way. There are some days I don’t know how I balance it. But to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The Birth of Everett "Rhett" Allan Booker

Welcome to the world, Everett Allan Booker.

Welcome to the world, Everett Allan Booker.

Everett "Rhett" Allan Booker was born on the 4th of July at 1:18 a.m. (yes, there were fireworks) but his actual birth story spans across three days. With the births of both of my children, I have taken the time in the hospital to write out the details of their birth story for one reason: you need to acknowledge the birth experience that you had. I have been very lucky to have two natural, unmedicated births that while grueling, were both uncomplicated and progressed the way I had hoped. I think that whether you are happy with your birth story or not (and maybe even more so with the latter) it's important for your postpartum mental health to comb through those details and acknowledge it all. Then look at your beautiful baby and pat yourself on the back. It's a pretty great prize, right?

WHY DO WE WANT TO READ ABOUT YOUR SON'S BIRTH STORY, BETH? 

Because birthing a human being is hard work. Imagine you are passing a kidney stone, you have a broken arm, someone is giving you a root canal, you have a migraine and you are running the Boston Marathon all at once. That's about how hard it is to have a baby (especially without drugs).

DISCLAIMER: This is a detailed story, the squeamish have been warned. 

JULY 2:

10:30 p.m., we came into the Labor & Delivery triage and I was 4cm dilated (although I was told at my previous appointment that I was 5cm already) and having consistent contractions 5 minutes apart. I was so paranoid that our baby was going to come quickly (since it was the second time around) that I really jumped the gun here. While I was there, I dilated to 5cm but then did not progress past that point so at around 2:30 a.m. on July 3 we were sent home to rest. 

JULY 3:

Yes, I sent selfies to some of my nearest and dearest to let them know that it was showtime. 

Yes, I sent selfies to some of my nearest and dearest to let them know that it was showtime. 

I only managed to sleep about 3 hours because sleep is hard when you are having contractions! I continued having contractions all day so to ease my mind, I made an appointment to be seen at Charlotte OB-GYN at 2 p.m. At that point, I was dilated to almost 6cm and was told to be on high alert for the rest of the day in case contractions picked up. I went home, showered, napped, ate dinner and then the contractions got a lot stronger. At around 7 p.m. I decided it was time to go in and at around 7:30 p.m. once I was in Labor & Delivery triage they told me that I was dilated to 6cm and they were going to admit me (I may or may not have done a victory dance).

Based on my last natural birth with Calvin, I plateaued for hours and did not progress for a long time which led to them breaking my water for me and resulted in me being exhausted by the time I was able to push. With that in mind, I decided to have them break my water early on and I am so glad that I did because it helped move things along quickly. They broke my water around 9:30 p.m. and I immediately went to the tub to labor for a long time. At that point I started hearing fireworks go off uptown (because America) so that was pretty cool because we could see them from our room. From the tub, I went back and forth between there and the ball for about 1-1.5 hours and it wasn't too bad (I was watching Jurassic World when I was on the ball and Brandon was rubbing my back to help me through contractions). Nothin' like your husband and Chris Pratt (your other husband) to get you through labor. 

Kathy, the best midwife ever (Don't worry, we took this after the baby was born, not while I was in labor).

Kathy, the best midwife ever (Don't worry, we took this after the baby was born, not while I was in labor).

Things started to really pick up around 11:30 p.m. and I was 8cm and having horrible back labor. I kept looking at the clock because I honestly wasn't sure if we were going to have our baby on the 3rd or the 4th! Kathy (my midwife) suggested I hold onto the back of the bed and go on my knees (which I was reluctant to do at first, but appreciated the suggestion after I started doing it) and while I did that I inhaled lavender essential oils and really tried to focus on my breathing (thanks, prenatal yoga)

JULY 4:

After about 45 minutes of that position I switched to laying on my side where I cried through every contraction, inhaled lavender essential oils and had my nurse Sam hold an ice pack on my back. This was the point where I was 9cm and also started throwing up (transition during labor is always, always a bitch). I was begging for an epidural at this point. I pre-warned my nurse and midwife that I would do this, I also made them promise me they wouldn't give in, no matter how convincing I was. I was also somehow incredibly polite and every time someone would ask me a question or touch me I would either say “no thank you” or “please don’t touch me” (very different from my first birth where I acted like a demon took over my body and I was literally screaming "HELP" and threatening to leave the hospital. 

After another 45 minutes on my side I was ready to push. They tried to get me to do it on my side but was not having it so I grabbed onto the squat bar and threw an oxygen mask on and started there. I used an oxygen mask with my first labor (partially because I was exhausted and having an anxiety attack, so this time I requested one in advance). With the squat bar I felt like I didn’t have good control on my pushing so I switched to sitting with them holding my legs.

I pushed for 10 minutes total. First I started crowning, so I immediately pushed again and out came his head, he had the cord very close to his neck. I heard Kathy whisper something about the cord to Brandon. Being me, I assumed the cord was wrapped around his neck so when they told me to push again, I pushed with every ounce of energy I had (serious momma bear mode, I was ready to get that baby out just incase something was wrong). While I did that push, Kathy was able to move the cord out of the way. It took me about 2 more pushes after that to get his shoulders and the rest of him out. He didn't cry right away so I asked “Is he out?!” and when I looked down he was on my belly and I started crying and looked at Brandon and I said, "We finally have our rainbow baby." I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.

Brandon did not get to catch Rhett like he did with Calvin because of the cord, but the great news is Kathy was able to maneuver him so the cord didn’t get wrapped around him and in the process she guided him out so I didn’t tear at all (any woman who has ever given birth will understand how amazing that is). After being out for 20 minutes he already latched on and nursed like a little champ. 

Brandon snapped this while I was feeding the baby for the first time.

Brandon snapped this while I was feeding the baby for the first time.

My sweet 9 pound 21.5 inch long baby boy!

My sweet 9 pound 21.5 inch long baby boy!

Our little family is so blessed by our newest addition and we can't imagine our lives without him. Our sweet rainbow baby is everything we wished for and I am so unbelievably happy that I had such a healthy pregnancy and birth and now we have a beautiful, healthy boy. 

9 Ways That Pregnancy is Different the Second Time Around

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I am really good at being pregnant. During my first pregnancy I was a champion student— I read every book and article, I took every class and I hung on to advice given to me by those mothers who came before me. Just a few of the topics every pregnant woman is sure to find herself Googling include:

When does morning sickness end?

Can I eat _____?

Signs of Labor

What does a real contraction feel like?

On the research front, I had it covered. Then, I had my son and had to learn a whole new skillset: Parenting. These learning moments come in waves and I just recently (after 2.5 years of toddler bliss) started a new one: Parenting While Pregnant. Holy moly things are different this time around. How did I have time to read so much about mucus plugs and pre-eclampsia before? They say every pregnancy is different and that is the truth! Here’s all the ways that pregnancy is different your second time around.

1. You Will Look Pregnant 5 Minutes After Conceiving

Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. But that bump comes fast when your uterus already knows what to do. During your first pregnancy you stare at yourself in the mirror at 16 weeks pregnant telling yourself that there’s no way it’s gas bloat and that you do have a bump. At 16 weeks your second time around, you look (and may even feel) like you’re 22 weeks.

2. You Will Eat Whatever You Please

Everything in moderation is a good motto to go by, but when you’ve already been through this rodeo you know that obsessing over every single thing you eat doesn’t have to be your norm. For my first pregnancy, my body was a temple that no soft cheese, sushi, coffee, Diet Coke or lunch meat shall enter. This time, the recommended caffeine intake is something I follow religiously (yes, I ration out my small cups of coffee throughout the day to survive), I realized Diet Coke helps my morning sickness, and if I want to eat something, as long as I’m getting it from somewhere that doesn’t have a B Health Grade or from a gas station, I’m good.

3. You Don’t Sweat the Body Changes as Much

With my first pregnancy I gained 40 pounds and stressed about swelling, stretch marks and varicose veins. This time around, ehhhh not a big deal. It took me a while to lose the weight and feel comfortable in my skin again, but it did happen so I’m not going to stress out.

4. You Treasure Sleep More Than Anything

Okay, you treasure your first born and your partner, but if your first-born kid is like mine, then sleep is fickle and far from reliable. I’m with you on missing that much needed sleep at night. Also…

5. You Really Miss Pregnancy Naps

Like, really. I napped A LOT when I was pregnant the first time around. This time, if my husband takes the toddler to play so I can get some mid-day shut eye it’s like my own personal version of a party.

6. Your Symptoms May Be Different

No two pregnancies are cookie cutter, so it only makes sense that your symptoms are different the second time— unless you are like my unicorn friends who manage to “feel great” their whole pregnancy, but that’s another story. For example, I never experienced a migraine in my life until I was pregnant with Baby #2 and HOLY. CRAP. Ouch.

7. You Don’t Worry About the Birth That Much

So, I realize this one is really subjective, if you had a stressful birth experience prior to this pregnancy you may have prenatal anxiety, which is totally normal, but if you are like me, and you had a positive birth experience the first time, you know it’s going to hurt like hell, but it is SO WORTH IT (you also already know how awesome mesh undies and adult diapers are).

8. You Realize the Baby Crap You Don’t Need

First pregnancies are exciting for many reasons and one of them is that you get to buy (or be bought) a ton of baby stuff from toys to swaddles and from things like The Windi or a Pee Pee Tee Pee. Seasoned mamas know what essentials they need, all of the clutter that doesn’t even work and the reality that your kid doesn’t need much but mommy and milk for the first 6 months anyway. *However, if something amazing came out since my baby was a baby, then you’re right that I’m going to definitely buy it

9. You Know Mother’s Love

Having a baby is the craziest experience ever, becoming a mom is one of those surreal, magical things that can’t be put into words. You feel so connected to this little person that you grew inside of you and reciprocally, they love you more than anything in the world right back. I had a lot of anxiety the first time around about being a “good mom” and whether I’d be doing things “right.” I can assure you there have been days where I’m not a good mom, I definitely don’t do everything right and my kiddo still loves me nonetheless. I just can’t wait to share that love with another baby— and watch my first born (hopefully) fall in love, too!

We all have our own parenting experiences, pregnancy experiences, birth stories, battle scars, parenting styles and philosophies, but I think it’s safe to say it’s different for everyone the second time around. Now, I’ll get back to you if we ever decide to do this for a third time.

The "M" Word

It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was counting down the days and finally, I was in the chair in the ultrasound room getting ready to see our second baby for the first time. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” was playing softly over the speakers, I was cold and definitely uncomfortable with my feet up in the stirrups— why does this have to feel so awkward, I thought. I watched as the ultrasound technician began to show us our baby. She looked and prodded and after what felt like forever, eventually said, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” My face became hot and I squinted my eyes while looking at the screen— willing it to show a heartbeat and begging God that this was an oversight. I couldn’t look at my husband, this would be our second loss in a row and although I know that I did nothing to cause it personally, I felt responsible for the pain we both were feeling in the moment.

30 minutes before I was sitting in that room I was dancing down the hallway to my appointment, I was texting my mom and friends that I was at the office and I was talking to my husband about the type of fruit our baby compared to that week. In an instant, this little soul that was a part of me and a part of our family was gone.

When it comes to women and their bodies people don’t like to talk about these private things that women experience— periods, abortions, miscarriages, the list goes on. Miscarriages are hard to talk about because it’s about the little people who we hoped and prayed for, who we loved with our whole hearts that we never even got to meet. From the moment that we got the positive test it was like we were in preparation mode to bring this new little life into our family— already discussing double strollers, where to buy the nursery furniture and what names we liked. I had trained myself to get used to my one cup of coffee a day and I had already gotten used to passing on the glass of wine at dinner for an iced tea. We discussed how great of a big brother our son would be and all of these ideas on how to announce we were having another child.

The thing that is the most disconcerting about miscarriage is that leading up to it there is nothing but plans for the future and in an instant those plans are just gone and all of a sudden you aren’t really pregnant anymore. You are expected to continue to go about your life like things are normal, go to work and the grocery store, make small talk with strangers about the weather, shower, sleep, and rinse and repeat. People have no idea what you’re going through, they have no idea that you want to just scream or cry, or both.  If you’re like me, you’ve made a well-informed decision with your doctor and set up an appointment to say goodbye. Everyone you come into contact with that has read your file gives you the look of empathy and sorrow— these are not easy procedures for them either. You say a prayer, take the anesthesia and after that you try your damnedest to begin to heal in all ways possible.

I share this story not to receive empathy or sorrow— I share this for two very important reasons: First, I’m not the first woman to have a miscarriage, I definitely won’t be the last and I want to put it out in the universe that even though this is an incredibly isolating experience, if you are going through this you are not alone. If there is one thing that I have learned through this it’s that I am surrounded by so many strong women who have this secret held close to their hearts— that they lost a baby, too. And strangely I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone in my experience. Second, I want to honor this baby that was almost ours. We were so close to announcing to the world that we were having another baby and even though we never made it to that point, I still want people to know that he/she existed.

I’d like to think that my first-born child is my sweet ray of sunshine, my baby that I never got to meet is now a twinkling star in the heavens, and one day, we will get our rainbow.

The Problem With Being Sorry

Toddlers go to the beat of their own drum, they genuinely only care about what is in their best interest and they leave a lot of crumbs behind. Let’s be real here, they have a lot to say “I’m sorry” for, but sometimes I really don’t want my child to be sorry.

Recently we were stuck on a plane due to bad weather. This led to us being up in the air an extra 40 minutes and sitting on the ground for an extra hour due to lightning. In that moment, any parent can empathize what it’s like to fly with a toddler, but a toddler that has been stuck on the same plane for four hours—Lord help us. Somehow my child remained calm, sat on our laps and watched Finding Nemo like it was any old Monday. Then I shuffled and I knocked the iPad on the ground, to which my toddler looked up to me with big eyes and said “I sorry.”

“I’m sorry” is probably one of the most annoying phrases that I have in my everyday vocabulary. My boss tells me about an annoying conversation she had with someone and I say, “I’m sorry!” My husband drops something and I say, “I’m sorry!” Someone in the grocery store bumps into me and I say, “I’m sorry!” That phrase, commonplace and familiar sneaks its way into my every day conversations and has become so routine and involuntary it’s as prevalent in my every day life as saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes.

Toddler’s are sponges. That’s why we spell out cuss words, try not to watch Game of Thrones when our kid is awake and it’s why eating chocolate behind closed doors is a very real thing as a parent. My son plays with my make up brushes, he drags my purse around the house and he pretends to mow the lawn alongside my husband. My child wants to clean when I clean, read when I read and God forbid I’m on my phone, he wants to play on that, too. It should be no surprise that he’s picked up on the monotonous phrase, “I’m sorry” too.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times that I want him to apologize. When he throws a toy at the dog, when he slaps me on the head in the deli line at the grocery store, when he throws a banana on the ground (only after asking for a banana in the first place)— all times that I would LOVE an apology even though let’s be honest, toddlers are never really sorry. It’s those other “Sorrys” the ones that aren’t really merited because it’s not your fault. Maybe this goes far beyond our kids. Maybe this is a little bit of a wake up call for all of us—apologize when you did something wrong and have a little faith that sometimes it’s okay to not be sorry, too.