Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Next Chapter

I think most people struggle with figuring out how to mold their interests (dare I say their "passions" - hate that word!) in life into a job, much less a career. That saying that goes something like "do what you love and never work a day in your life" in my mind is misleading - as though this is a real option for everyone. I know people who have very specific career interests and high qualifications and have had very difficult times parlaying those interests into a job which pays the bills, or, on the other hand, people with very vague interests and no real desire to work - how do you manage to make a career out of something like that?

The reason I muse about this is that I've always only held a couple of sincere "passions" in life and have struggled with finding a career niche. I went to college and graduated with a degree in Economics - figuring it would be the most marketable of all the liberal arts degrees my college offered. Problem was (is) that a degree in economics alone does not equal a promising career if you have no specific idea of what you want to do with it. Not only that, but I've come to find out while my degree is of value (and certainly my college education as a whole is certainly valuable), it doesn't fit with my real life passions - cooking, the home, family, pregnancy, childbirth, infant care, etc.

I was 7 years old when I decided I wanted to deliver babies growing up, and was firmly entrenched in this idea of what I'd be doing when I grew up. I stuck with this plan of going to medical school to become an OB-GYN until college when I started thinking of my real life ambition - to have my own babies someday. Unfortunately, the reality for women is that we are up against a very real biological clock, with a pretty firm cutoff regarding our reproductive years. Sadly, for those of us like myself who wanted to get married and have babies in my 20s - and be present around the home and not working crazy hours, be on call, etc - a sacrifice must be made. I talked previously about the harm from the idea that women are taught to believe that they can "have it all" and I really think in this instance you can't. You cannot have the flexibility to be home with your babies, a great cook, housecleaner and wife (let alone good family member and friend) while you are going to school until the age of 27 and then working 100 hour work weeks for the next several years. So, I thought about this sacrifice and realized that medical school wouldn't work for me in how I wanted to prioritize my life.

And that left me with little backup plan. Eventually I found myself in the corporate world, managing sales and handling logistics and operations, and just not having my heart in it. And then I got pregnant. And then I gave birth. And like that, my passion for pregnancy and childbirth and infant care has been reawakened. In my teens and early 20's, when childbirth and delivery were still off in the distance, I read every book, every article, and watched every show and documentary on all things conception, fetal development, pregnancy and childbirth related I could possibly find. When my time came, I got to experience it firsthand, and apply the knowledge I literally have spent over a decade collecting. (not without experiences that caught me by surprise however!). Giving birth has been the single most powerful and transformative moment in my life, despite the years of preparation.

Earlier this year, it became evident that I needed to leave my job for a multitude of reasons, and better yet - it became possible. And with that it's now possible for me to begin to pursue something that I really, honestly am passionate about (much as I feel that "passionate" is a dreadfully overused term). We're lucky to live a couple miles away from a leading college for midwifery, which has a school that trains and certifies you in a number of childbirth vocations. I'm incredibly excited to begin my training this spring to become a Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula and Lactation Consultant.

(For background info, a Doula is a trained person who provides support in a variety of ways - physical, emotional, informational, etc - to the expecting couple, before, during and after childbirth. I'm so excited about this!)

More to come on this, but for now, I'm reading my textbooks and brushing up - back to school we go!

Monday, March 26, 2012

10 months!

Ten months old and here we are. Some days we're surviving, other days we're thriving, but all days we're smitten with this girl who is now walking a fine line between toddler and baby-hood. The older she gets the more I find myself nostalgic for her tiny baby days - so nostalgic that I catch myself dreaming of having another baby. These thoughts are quickly pushed to the back of my brain when I realize that having another baby with a toddler who is already SO MUCH WORK would simply blow my mind. Going through nonstop morning sickness again, chasing a little kid around, getting no sleep, having little space left in our home, having just left my job and thus reducing our income, etc... yeah, a new baby doesn't really fit into this equation. But - to feel baby kicks again, to get the chance to labor and give birth again (yes, I actually look forward to this!), to feel a newborn sleep against my chest, to master the art of breastfeeding with a new baby, to have that sacred first week again - when the time comes it will be welcomed gladly!

Of course, this post is supposed to be about Ellie at 10 months old. She is a joy. This morning as I watched her attempt to climb the stairs holding onto a stuffed animal with a pacifier in her mouth, I found myself once again totally amazed by her. She's into anything and everything these days, and the tireder (is that a word?) she is, the quicker she moves across the floor, frantically finding a new toy and flinging it to the side in the search for something off limits. Which, no doubt she finds. Girl loves electrical cords, opening kitchen cabinets and rummaging around what's inside, unrolling toilet paper and eating it, china cabinets, fireplaces, etc.
The result of opening a cabinet, 3 seconds after I turned around
Ellie crawls about 30 miles per hour, climbs the stairs, babbles all the time (loves to say/scream MAMA!) and a couple days ago (March 23rd so we don't forget!) she took her first real steps. Three steps on Friday, seven steps Saturday followed by a walking strike on Sunday. Perhaps she was just resting on the sabbath? It is incredible to see this transition, and oh-so rewarding. As though we're actually doing something right!

She still loves to eat and we've yet to find a food which she seems to dislike. She tried lasagna for the first time last week and ate almost an entire regular sized serving of it. I learned my lesson though to avoid putting clean clothes on the baby until after eating lasagna. She still nurses happily, especially during the night, and I can't imagine weaning anytime soon (or at all, for that matter). Pumping three times a day while at work for those six months was incredibly difficult and took a lot of effort, but I'm so glad it resulted in a nursing relationship that's still going strong.

Ellie loves to give kisses, both to humans, stuffed animals and pets alike (although the latter usually results in a face-full of pet hair). I decided last night that I was done trying to control the face planting on the pets, and figure that being covered in animal hair (all the time!) will serve to build her little immune system. Despite this new resolution, I'm finding myself vacuuming and moping at least every other day. We're getting some great opportunities to play with friends, which is great for socializing and great for me too. :)

Love those Isaacs kids!
Ellie's sleep is okay some nights (zero, one or two wakeups) and terrible others. Seems like anything will interfere - teething, colds, developmental milestones, separation anxiety, etc - and she is always going through at least one of these things.

And, so as not to make my dear reader(s?) think that it's all roses and sunshine, it's not. Our baby is prone to melt downs, is hitting a whiny stage (I think) and is very, very attached to me right now. While the majority of the time I love that, sometimes I just want to use the restroom without being screamed at from another room. :) She's also quite headstrong and knows exactly what she wants. When she doesn't get it, she lets us know her feelings. Hoping that this isn't an indicator of many tantrums to come, and if it is, we'll need to start gearing up on mitigation strategies ASAP. She despises getting her nose wipe, which seems to be constantly runny, and diaper changing time is a battle every, single time. Usually resulting in tears, but almost always in a clean diaper (thankyouverymuch). And from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to sleep she is constantly on the move, which is oh-so-tiring come 4pm...

So there you have it - life with a 10 month old Eleanor, in a nutshell. Other news around here? New kitchen is being installed most likely within the next two weeks, which is both exciting and slightly nerve-wracking; Peter's responsibilities at work are picking up quickly (which is exciting and exhausting), Spring just may be around the corner (but knowing Seattle, we'll get teased with the promises of Spring until mid-June) and we're still pinching ourselves from time to time that this is the life we've been given. :)
not in a nut-shell, but here's Eleanor in a box!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Normals and New Beginnings

Well, that was an unintentional hiatus, for which I apologize. Life caught up with us lately, and between a house guest, family vacation, a never-ending grey winter, the sickies and some other major changes, the blog's been put on the backburner. Did I mention our girl is now TEN months old?? As I write, I can hear a raspy wet cough coming through the monitor as she sleeps. Poor girl can't seem to catch a break this winter - it was just a couple weeks ago when we were last at the pediatrician's office for an awful stomach bug - and now she's been slammed with the grossest cold she's had yet. Sigh.

However, that is not the point of this post.

Our family has gone through quite a few "new normals" in the past 15 months. Here's the rundown:

-Peter and Julia work in the same place, same schedule
-Peter is home, Julia is at work
-Peter and Julia work in different places, similar hours
-Julia is home waiting for baby, Peter works
-Julia has baby, is home with baby, Peter works
-Julia works, Peter works, Ellie is home with babysitters
-Julia works, Peter works new job, Ellie is home with babysitters

and now:

-Julia is home with baby, Peter works!

Each time we started a "new normal" we've had to adjust our schedules, figure out transportation (we are pretty much a one-car family), figure out how new responsibilities will be divided, etc. I think we've shown that we are great at adapting to new circumstances, and almost every "new normal" seems better than the one before. Which leads me to this one, our newest normal.

Yes, I've left my job and have decided to stay at home with Ellie for a while. This will not be status quo for the long run, we have some plans in place for me to start a new career (!!! - to be discussed later). This decision took many sleepless nights, some unhappy tears, a huge leap of faith on all parts, but each day that passes I find myself shedding some of the unhappiness that weighed so heavily on my shoulders and slowly coming out of the fog.

I have so many feelings about this transition. I'm thrilled, of course, to stay home with my girl. She's the love of my life, and while I was at work, my arms used to just ache out of loneliness. I'm stunned to find that this option is something that is feasible for my family - for so long it was out of reach. I'm saddened by leaving my old workplace, and even more than that, scared at what leaving a job means (not only in this economy, but for the long run. What if we find ourselves needing me to go back to a corporate job? What about long term advancement? Our current plan is that I won't ever go back to a corporate job like the one I left, but you never know...). I'm also a little angry and feel a little betrayed by the notion that is so perpetuated in our society that women can have and do it all. For so long I bought into that, and knew that if I worked hard enough, I could be one of the women that seems to have it all - a family, a home, a successful career, a life outside work. The truth seems to me that this is just not the case; there is simply not time in the day for a woman like me to do it all and be satisfied with my efforts. I wanted more time with my baby than working full time (and commuting!) allowed me to have - that is, more than a handful of hours with her Monday through Friday. I wanted time to keep my home up in a way I could be proud of, time to pay attention to my husband, time to help alleviate some of the responsibility that fell on his shoulders, time to run errands, time to cook dinner, time to see my friends and family, time to focus on what I really want in a career, etc.. Working full time simply didn't allow this, and I felt that life (and not only my life, but the first year of my baby's life) was passing by without me. So, we ripped the band aid off, and home I'll stay for the time being. :)

Now everyday is Saturday for Ellie and I. My "new normal" revolves around her nap schedules, the chores at home, keeping Ellie entertained, and watching crap reality TV while drinking martinis. (okay, just kidding about that last part!). And at the end of the day while I am equally as tired as I used to be, I feel so much more fulfilled, that I've finally risen about what I couldn't live with.

In short? Happy days are here for us! (now, bring on the sunshine PLEASE Seattle?).

Thanks for reading. To reward you, here are some pictures of Ellie over the last 6 weeks since we've been gone. :)

hanging out at home:

On vacation!

back home. :)