SAHM: What To Know Before You Become An Independent Contractor

10 Aug

When you become a SAHM, whether by circumstance or by choice, you may find yourself wanting or needing to bring in some money. It’s 2015 and thankfully there are some great – though maybe hard to find – work from home options that allow you to be around for family and pitch in financially. Many of these might be freelance or independent contractor gigs. Before you sign on a dotted line, here are a few things I wish I had known before working my first independent role:

Sign that dotted line. Maybe your best friend of 20 years is hiring you, maybe you’ve been referred by someone you trust, and maybe you’ve replied to a post on Craigslist. Regardless of the situation, make sure you outline a proposal and draft a contract…and get it signed! Verbal agreements don’t pay bills. Handshakes don’t deliver payments. Write up a contract and do not do any work without getting that contract signed. And if a potential employer balks at the idea of a contract, or a payment schedule? Move on to the next job.

Know who you’re working for. If you know the person directly who has hired you then a background check might seem a little excessive. But what if they’re a referral from a friend of a friend? While not everyone will have droves of information available online, a quick search with your employer’s name or company might turn up positive or negative reviews, reviews which might ultimately change your mind on whether or not you want to accept the job.

Don’t work for free, and don’t underestimate your value. Remember pre-kids what you were making per hour to perform your job duties? Don’t sell yourself short just because your office has changed. You’re still worth it. Additionally, if your employer gives you even one hint that they may stop paying you, or can’t pay you, or simply won’t pay you – stop working immediately until the issue has been resolved. People like this will push the envelope, and if you let one invoice slide while still producing work you start to lose your footing for demanding timely payments.

Just because there’s no HR, don’t feel like you have to take inappropriate behavior. You should be treated with the same amount of respect and professionalism as in the traditional workplace. Having to hear your employer make comments about his wife during a meeting such as, “Hey, as long as she takes care of my kid, goes to work and gives it up to daddy when I say, who gives a fuck what else she does?” would easily warrant a knock on HR’s door in an office setting. Don’t drop your standards just because you’re working freelance.

Save everything. You never know when you might need to prove something or sadly, defend yourself. Save copies of relevant emails and text messages. Unsure if something is relevant? Save it, just to be safe.

Just because you’re a SAHM does not mean that you are on call 24/7. Set boundaries and working hours. If you get a string of texts at 9p.m. and you’ve said that you’re outside of working hours after 7p.m., don’t respond until the start of your next business day. You also have the right to decline and suggest new meeting times, just as you would in an office environment.

I’m sure there are many wonderful opportunities for SAH parents to work independently, and I hope my learning curve helps you navigate the good opportunities from the awful ones. Do you have any tips to add to this list? 

16 Things Every Preemie Mom Thinks During Her Next Pregnancy

29 Jul

As more and more of my friends and acquaintances have kids my Facebook and other social media feeds become saturated with posts about pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. In the last week I’ve seen this post shared several times, and today I finally read it. And like so many times since I became a parent I felt the knee-jerk reaction to write my own version.

You might be thinking “good grief, it’s just an article meant to make pregnant women feel like they’re not in it alone”. You’d be right – which is exactly why I’m offering a counter article, not for you, but for the women who can’t relate to this list even a little bit. It’s for the mom (and dad) brave enough to risk pregnancy again despite the ever present nagging sense of fear that things will go just as wrong or, God forbid, worse the next time around.

1. I hope I can look like I’m ready to pop next time. Insult me all you want by saying I must be due any day. I really hope I make it that far.

2. Maybe I’ll be able to do more for myself this time. Maybe I won’t have to be on bedrest and I won’t be restricted to one 5 minute shower a day. And if this does happen, how on earth will I manage with a toddler in tow?

3. R-i-i-i-ig-g-h-h-t. In response to people telling you they simply loved being pregnant. Even if everything is going swimmingly this time around, not a day goes by that you don’t wonder if this is the day the bottom will fall out and your body will fail you.

4. I trust modern medicine with all my being. I’m happy for you that the whole “natural” thing worked out. But if it wasn’t for modern medicine my firstborn wouldn’t be alive, so yes, I’ll be listening to every doctor and nurse and specialist available.

5. I’m not swollen yet…weird.  Swelling around 35 weeks is pretty common and normal for most women. Swelling between weeks 20-35, combined with a myriad of other obvious and not so obvious symptoms, can be life-threatening for mother and baby. Who cares about how big my bump is when I can say for sure that, as of yet, I’m not carrying ten or fifteen pounds of water weight in my legs.

6. I really shouldn’t have eaten that. Balancing between health obsessive and indulging a sweet tooth or combating those times when a ravenous pregnancy appetite takes you over means worrying about getting diabetes again and if this donut binge made things worse.

7. There’s no way I can get any bigger…right? See above, re:swelling. A gestational hypertension or preeclampsia veteran will notice the moment they start to swell and poke themselves constantly to check for bruising or pitting. The number on the scale is only depressing if it spikes too rapidly, warranting a call to triage.

8. If I ignore the urge to pee it will just go away. But I can’t ignore it, because not only do I have to pee, I need to drag a carton out of the fridge at 2:00a.m. along with a funnel so my 24 hour urine collection can be evaluated…and I’m only 10 weeks. I wonder how many times I’ll be keeping pee next to my milk and Brita this time?

9. Due dates mean nothing. Neither does belly size. Telling people my due date feels like jinx every time I open my mouth. I’ve come up with my own secret “I’ll be happy if we make it this far” date.

10. I’m not sure if I should bother buying clothes for this baby. Or unpacking a siblings hand-me-downs. What if this baby has to be in the NICU for days, weeks or months? Remember how hard it was coming home to a room without a baby, or to pack away clothes with tags on them because our first was so small? Maybe I should just wait and see what happens.

11. How strange will it be if we have a baby that doesn’t go to NICU? Packing a hospital bag for our firstborn was pointless. He couldn’t wear clothes, let alone be touched. I certainly hadn’t registered for cannulas or feeding tubes. How utterly strange it will be if we have this baby and it just…stays with us. (Sidebar: the original article makes a couple of comments about “I don’t care if you’re only 33 weeks”, which is super annoying to preemie parents, who know all too well that every single day in utero counts.)

12. When will it happen, this time? Will my water break at 28 weeks in the middle of the night? Will I become too sick to carry this child to term? The joy of the arrival is dampened if not entirely robbed by the powerful experience of giving birth to a preemie.

13. Quick, let’s do maternity photos now. Just in case, you know? What if things go bad again? I don’t know that I can wait the recommended amount of time for the ideal bump photos.

14. It’s normal to have a weekly countdown celebration on my calendar, right? Because I do. I have 4 more weeks until 24 weeks (viability) and 13 more weeks until I’ll be more pregnant than I was with our son. I think in terms of “let’s get this over with”, not because I am uncomfortable (though this anxiety isn’t sunshine and roses), but because I wish I could just skip to having a healthy baby at home, resting inside my healthy arms.

15. How did that mom of the 24 weeker survive 8 months in NICU? There are some really incredible families in this tribe, many who have been through far worse than I have. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know if I can do it again.

16. I care about your birth story because it helps me focus on how things might go for me. I love to hear that you had a preemie and then carried your next child to term. I love knowing that you didn’t get diabetes or seizures or high blood-pressure or migraines or (fill in the blank) this time. Thank you for reaching out to me and helping me feel less alone on this journey. Our stories matter. Even if they make others uncomfortable or baffled, our stories matter, too.

Refrigerators and Lists.

15 Jul

Ever since visiting Saint Louis in October I’ve had this nagging urge to go back. The main reason: I wanted to give my grandma the opportunity to see Ben for longer than an hour. There’s a couple of other family members who bridges have been building with and don’t get me wrong, they matter too – but for months the paranoid idea of “what if grandma dies and never sees Ben again” has stuck with me.

So we went. And we spent 2 days in Wentzville, and I had my big girl panties on and did things I never thought I would or could do again. The biggest was set foot in my grandma’s house. I feared that house was my kryptonite. It was always home base, my favorite place in the world to escape to when we would come back for a visit. I had no interest in derailing the healing and progress I’d done over the last 5 years by walking in and being attacked by memories. My original plan wasn’t to go there at all, but with an elderly lady and a toddler it made more sense logistically to be a big girl.

And for the most part? It went really well. It didn’t feel strange or even familiar walking in, it just…was. I know, not my most poetic writing of all time. Ben was charming and sweet and handled the bouncing around from house to house like a champ (although we both fell victim to allergy attacks turned nasty cold and are still sniffling three days into being home…pregnant + having a cold = HELL!).

But there were two things that knocked me for an emotional loop. And they’re really stupid. Sort of.

I was getting a paper towel from by grandma’s fridge when I noticed a typed up spreadsheet that contained everyone’s name, address, birthday and phone number. Me and Ben (and obviously not my mom) weren’t on there. I read through the list of names that were once family and now not and had to count to five at the old feelings of hurt, anger, resentment and sadness. I know that we aren’t missed and that by removing ourselves from the equation we gave them the gift of functioning without the broken pieces. I fully understand it was my choice to walk away. And I still stand by the fact that it was the right thing to do.

But literally not making the cut…I guess it’s easier to live with when you don’t have to see it in front of you.

I was happy to see that Ben had a few pictures hanging up around her house, as he is an innocent and unknowing little dude in all the crap that once was. I’m glad he matters to (some) of them, and it’s my hope that he never knows anything different, at least not until he’s old enough to realize that what happened between us doesn’t mean it happened between him and them.

But seeing all those pictures of people who I know but don’t know…I guess it’s just easier when you don’t have to see.

But it was a good trip, and I’m glad we went, and I feel like more forward progress was made. I guess that after all that has gone down and all the time that has passed, what more could I ask for?

There is one thing: if this cold would go away, that would be fan-freaking-tastic.

Why Bringing a Toddler to the Beach Is Anything but a Relaxing Day in the Sun

30 Jun

There a million lovely things about being a WAH/SAH parent. There are a million and two things about it that can suck on a soul draining level. And then there’s those things that straddles both sides of the fence.

Bringing a toddler – at least, a toddler like Ben – to the beach is one of those things.

As the weather became nicer out this spring I heard from several friends how they thought of me each sunny day with envy, knowing that I would likely be spending the majority of the day outdoors. They weren’t wrong, as Ben and I do try to make it outside as much as humanly possible during the precious months of Minnesota spring and summer. And yes, it is awesome to spend more time outside than in. However, for the majority of the year we are trapped indoors as the grey sleet and snow comes down around us, making us stir crazy for the days when sunset happens later than 4:11p.m., but that’s another post for another day.

While the access to fresh air and sunshine is definitely on the “pro” SAH list, bringing a toddler to the beach for the day is not a relaxing experience. Sometimes it isn’t even fun for the adult because guess what? Being with kids is work. Taking care of kids is hard work. Keeping kids safe is really hard work. Here is what my “relaxing” beach day typically looks like with Ben:

Wake up to screaming toddler between 5:30-6a.m. Change toddler into dry diaper while he kicks at me and rolls wildly around the changing table.

Feed starving toddler breakfast. Cut up banana so he has something to satisfy him while I try to make eggs or peanut butter toast. Stop one hundred times to decipher what he’s anxiously gesturing “more, please” at.

Eat cold eggs and toast while Ben paces around the kitchen table. Half of my food ends up in his mouth, even though he insisted he was done eating off his own tray.

Stand in kitchen and pack lunch and snack for the beach. While cutting fruit Ben decides he’s still hungry, so every third piece goes to the toddler sitting on my feet. Every time I open the fridge toddler needs to help put something in (like his truck) or take something out (like the glass bottle of steak sauce).

Ice toes after glass bottle is dropped on my feet. Make mental note that he can reach the top shelf now.

Use bathroom and get my swimming suit on. Help Ben brush his teeth, then his hair, then retrieve the brush from the bathtub after he is finished brushing his hair. Keep one hand on the flatiron and repeatedly say “no touch” while chubby little fingers desire nothing more than second degree burns.

Tell Ben that it’s time to get his suit on so we can go bye-bye. Curse as he runs to the gate at the top of the stairs, adamant that bye-bye is happening NOW. Try to coax willful toddler into his bedroom to the dreaded changing table. When that fails, pick toddler up in a defensive stance as arms and legs go flying. Sacrifice shoulder to a defiant chomping in order to keep legs and knees from kicking pregnant stomach.

More sobs and screams on changing table. Try singing favorite songs, which has a 50% success rate of calming Ben down. Take a few more kicks and punches as he fights for freedom. Totally deflate his hopes when he realizes that getting the swimming trunks and swim shirt on were only half the battle – next comes sunscreen.

Dodge bites and generally wiggly-ness while trying to protect toddler from future wrinkles and skin cancer.

Set toddler free, who immediately runs to the gate demanding to be set loose. Listen to shrieking and sobbing while I tell him that I have to take Ace outside to go potty before we can leave. Get fingers pinched in gate as he shakes it while I sneak past with the dog. Offer distractions (go find your fishies! Go get your books! Where’s your animal puzzle?) to no avail.

Listen to Ben scream while Ace takes her time to pee.

Get dog in kennel while Ben sobs “bye-bye”. Reassure toddler that I didn’t ditch him.

Open gate for Ben and remind him a thousand times to go down the stairs on his tummy. On his tummy. On his – pick up crying Ben and make sure the stumble down the last step didn’t do any serious damage.

Sit Ben down on bench and wrestle on shoes. Check beach bag for: hat, towels, sunscreen, water bottle, sippy cup, sand toys, swim diapers, regular diapers, wipes and dry change of clothes. Carry Ben and bag to the car, get Ben buckled into car seat.

Go back inside for keys and cell phone that I forgot on kitchen counter.

Drive to beach and unload belongings and Ben. Remind Ben that if he wants to walk he has to hold my hand. We’ll argue about this several times before we finally get to the sand.

Pick our spot and unload towels and sand toys. Enjoy 10-15 minutes of Ben being entertained by the sheer joy of the water, the sand, filling up his bucket on the shore. Wonder if today is the day that he’ll be content playing like the other kiddos –

Nope. Chase Ben as he tries to run to the parking lot. Redirect to the beach. Redirect to the beach. Redirect. To. The. Goddamn. Beach.

Walk with Ben to the water (lasts for 10 minutes). Build castles for him to destroy (lasts for 5 minutes). Show him how to sift sand (lasts for 5 minutes). Redirect to the beach. We’re playing at the beach. AT THE BEACH.

Open up lunches. Ben gets to eat while I remind him to sit on his bottom. Sneak in stray bites when he is engaged in his food. Realize that I’m starving, but push the hunger aside as Ben takes off toward the parking lot.

Carry a screaming Ben back, get bit twice. Encourage him to rediscover the water or his toys. Enjoy 10-15 more minutes of Ben playing within my line of sight. Sneak in a few more bites of lunch that has gotten warm and mushy, but hey, food is food.

Redirect Ben to the beach for a dunking to clean off as much sand as possible. Carrying angry toddler to dry towel (get bit or kicked 2-5 times). Pin down toddler while peeling off second layer of skin swim diaper off of wet body. Dodge kicks while dressing in dry clothes. Hastily throw my shit in the beach bag without taking an assessment that I’ve grabbed everything while holding Ben’s arm with one hand.

Remind him of the holding hands rule while we walk to the car.

Drive home, carry sleeping toddler into his room. He smells like sun and sunscreen and a childhood spent outside, driving his mama crazy while he explores his world. Kiss him a few hundred times before lowering him into bed. Feel exhausted, sore, grimy with sand…and strangely happy. I’m the opposite of relaxed, but the days of laying in the sun reading a book and dozing on and off seem like a distant dream. I’m on toddler time now, which comes with a hell of a lot of ups and downs.

And plenty of sunshine.

A Family That Lasts.

23 Jun

What’s the point of having, of creating, a family? No really – someone give me a good answer here.

When I was growing up I was surrounded by cousins and aunts, uncles, grandparents, and of course my parents. I have an unlimited supply of silly, happy, warm memories. When we moved from Missouri to Minnesota in 1994 we were fortunate enough to have been relocated to a place where my mom’s two brothers lived. This eventually meant 5 new cousins. From 1994 – 2001ish these cousins were frequently at our house. And by frequently, I mean multiple days a week. My mom was either the babysitter, or our house was home base while my uncle went through a divorce.

And then dad died, and then my uncle died, and saying “my family in Missouri” is rocky at best, and my family in Minnesota seems to be limited to a couple of visits every year, although we live within a half hour of each other.

Mom and I got to talking about this tonight – what happened? And why does it happen? Do people just grow apart and go their separate ways? Is it really that easy to fall out of a once beloved family members good graces? Do the bonds of childhood really count for nothing when you’re in your 30’s?

Don’t any families stay together?

Mom said she’s just accepted that what was is no more, and while it’s sad and she wishes we were all closer that it just isn’t how it is. I get that, to a point. But then I wonder why bother making a family at all? Will Dustin and I put all this time into our two kids only to have them reach their mid-twenties and be strangers? How can you make sure that the family you build stays together?

(I guess my gut reaction is don’t let people die, because boy does that fuck everything up, but I realize that’s a bit illogical).

I guess I just want Ben and the other kid that’s on its way to be – and more importantly stay –  a family. I want this after I’m gone, after Dustin is gone, after the obligations are over. I want them to be like those siblings and family members I grew up believing in, the ones that take their families on vacations together, the ones who voluntarily call (or whatever communication is popular for their generation) each other. The ones who do more than Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving appearances.

Now I can’t force this or control it; but if I could, I would give them that. Family and friendship. Love stronger than death or the damages of the human condition.

I would give them a family that lasts.

Is that even possible?

Don’t Want Another Baby? Your Only Child Will Be Just Fine. Promise.

16 Jun

Last night I got an hour-ish break from the (still) crazy hell-beast that is my toddler to go get a cavity filled. Yes, this counts as a break, because by 3p.m. I was more excited about having shots of Novocaine than dealing with Ben for another 10 minutes. (It got even better a few hours later when he whacked me in the forehead with his head as hard as he possibly could , resulting in my still swollen eyebrow…don’t worry, he’s fine).

The hygienist and I were chatting about our kids and how exhausting they can be, and she mentioned that all her friends are popping out their second and pressuring her to do the same. She has a two-year-old, and doesn’t feel like she wants another one. “Is that horrible of me?” she asked after I told her I was an only child. “Are you mad at your parents?”

I instantly thought of my (and I dare to use the word) cousin, who at the high point of the falling out with my dad’s side of the family wrote me a particularly lovely letter where she said that my parents were selfish monsters for only having one child. It went on to say that I was such a rotten child from infancy that she almost couldn’t blame them, since who would want to risk another one like me. (Deep breath, deep breath, karma is a bitch).

I bring this up because obviously, the pressure and the corresponding guilt to have any or multiple children is on the minds of many a lady. As an only child who survived to tell the tale, I can promise you that:

You will mess up your firstborn much worse by having another baby that you don’t really want than by stopping at just one. I’m serious. You and only you know what’s right for your family. Maybe you and your partner feel really comfortable being a family of 3. Maybe you feel like things aren’t complete until you’re rocking a mini-van with each and every bucket seat packed with a kid. If you feel like you wouldn’t be a good (or as good) a parent to more kids, then don’t have them. It really is that simple – and it’s perfectly OK!

annoy

Being an only child did not ruin my life. Not even a little. I won’t lie and say I never asked for siblings when I was younger, but hell, we lived in the middle of nowhere Missouri where the nearest gas station was a fifteen minute drive away; of course I was envious of my friends who had built-in playmates (or a farm full of animals, same difference). But when I look back on my childhood, I don’t lament the siblings I didn’t have; I just remember the fun I had playing with my parents and my cousins and friends. I remember getting lost in books and imagination games. I don’t remember anything being ruined, that’s for sure.

And speaking of parents…being an only child has a huge advantage to the families I know with 4+ kids: lots of one-on-one time with the parents. I had a friend growing up who had three siblings and she very distinctly remembers only being alone with her parents for the 15 minutes each of them were allotted at bedtime. No disrespect to larger families – in fact, more power to you, because no way could I do it! – but I much preferred not having to share my mom and dad with a small army.

Oh yeah, the selfish only child thing. Bullshit. Let’s get one thing straight – only children are no more or no less likely to be spoiled rotten humans than children with siblings. Selflessness is a core value that is learned, it does not come from being an only child. How we parent our kids, what we role model for them and who they spend their time with will shape their character far more than having or not having siblings.

There’s a big difference between being nervous to add another child to your family (hello, me) and feeling a strong uncertainty that you want that new child at all. Listen to your gut (not the gut of your pregnant friend/sister/coworker or an eager grandparent) and trust your mama (or pre-mama, if you’re deciding to have kids at all) instinct before you make any decisions. Kids are awesome, but they are so much work and deserve to be 100% wanted, whether they’re your first or your sixth.

The Day I Almost Sold My Toddler.

11 Jun

It’s been 4 days since the worst day I’ve ever had with Ben and I’m still reeling. Still exhausted. Still covered in bite marks. Let me preface this post by saying that if you’re on the fence about having kids stop reading right now. Days and experiences like this will definitely add some serious weight to the “no chance in hell” side of the scale.

It sort of started last Monday when Ben’s eye teeth began to make an appearance. He was whiny, clingy, and irritable enough that I brought him to the doctor on Wednesday just to rule out an ear infection. (I’m actually not a FTM of a preemie who rushes to the doctor for every little thing, to which I thank years working in daycares.) The doc said he was perfectly fine, save for the 3-4 teeth trying to break through.

On Friday Dustin left us for the weekend to go shoot a movie for the 48 Hour Film Project. This involves making a short movie in – you guessed it – 48 Hours. It also means leaving a pregnant wife alone with a toddler for the weekend. I’m not complaining; I’m actually very happy that we have the type of relationship that allows for both of us to wander off and pursue non-parenting things from time to time.

I decided to tag along with Tia and Emmett on a short trip to Wisconsin to visit her mom. Ben and Emmett had a blast playing in the backyard (minus those harrowing 5 minutes when we tried to turn on the sprinkler) and exploring Grandma Kathy’s (or Uma in Emmett speak) house. But trouble struck at bedtime. Tia and her husband hadn’t had a chance to set up the AC yet this year and Ben and I spent the night tossing and turning in the stuffy heat. He was cranky when we got up, and cranky while we packed up our stuff, but I thought the 2 hour nap on the ride home might cure him.

Oh, how wrong I was.

We got home around 11:45a.m. and until Dustin walked in at 5:30p.m. Ben did nothing but scream, cry, hit, slap, and bite me. He would ask to be lifted up, and the moment I had him in my arms he would slap me across the face. When I put him down he would scream and lunge for my leg to bite. I tried to get the tired devil down for a second, much-needed nap and instead of laying there peacefully until he nodded off he stood in his crib shaking the bars and screaming so loudly I feared the neighbors would call the police.

At one point we were both looking at each other and sobbing. Where the hell did my awesome, sweet kid go? And really, how bad would it be to toss this thing in the dog kennel with a sippy cup and some fruit snacks and just wait it out?

When Dustin got home I was sweaty, with frayed hair flying all about my face. There was spit and leftover mac-n-cheese sauce on my shoulders. I didn’t even wait for Dustin to set his bags down before I handed him a writhing, screaming, foaming Ben and retreated to the shower, the white flag waved, muttering “He won. He won the whole day.”

I took a half-hour shower followed by a unisom. While I waited for my sleepy pill to kick in I busted out my  emergency box of yellow cake. I finished off way too much cake in bed before passing blissfully the F out.

This week has been better-ish. It’s helped that we’ve had 3 days of gorgeous weather in which to play at the beach and splash pad (read: wear him out to the point of utter exhaustion so he doesn’t realize his teeth still hurt).

Until today, when he suddenly spiked a 101* fever. Now he’s miserable for a different reason, still burning up after motrin, and he’s listless and just wants to lay on one of us with his blankie and whimper. Which makes me realize I miss the savage teething hell-beast; at least that creature had the energy to scream and cry.

I still might sell him…but I’ll be cool and wait til he feels better. Yup, that’s good parenting, no doubt about it.

I think

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3 Reasons for the 2 Month Delay

1 Jun

Hi blog, it’s me, Sarah. We go back a couple of years, though for the last sixty-ish days I’ve been distant, ignoring your reminders to update. I promise, it’s been for some pretty good reasons.

1. I’ve been busy, ok? 

I know that everybody says that they’re too busy with such and such to get to the important things, like writing, but really, it’s been crazy. From Easter to present we’ve spent a few weekends out-of-town, had some end of the year programs for Ben, a couple of birthdays, a major home renovation project. Throw in day-to-day life with a willful, teething (does it ever end?) toddler and downtime has been rare at best.

2. Work, work and more work. 

Don’t get me wrong, we are ever so grateful for Dustin’s freelance work, but it seems to be either feast or famine, and over the past two months it’s been in a feast mode. He’s been burning the candle at both ends on up to three intense projects and this means that we’ve had very little one-on-one time. When he’s been able to go for a walk after work with us before starting his projects that trumps blogging any day of the week.

And now for the big one…

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Baby #2 is due on 12/18/15! 

I could – and will – write at length about what it’s like to be pregnant post-preemie, but for now I’ll just say that I’m about 70% terrified and 30% happy. I mean, I’m overall happy but the idea of doing this again, and of how it could turn out…do you think a baby can sense ambivalence from the womb? I’m definitely playing this one safe, and for me that means trying to keep a healthy distance between me and attachment. Especially since we’ve already had a scare with some bleeding and an early ultrasound following said bleeding  that showed a slower heart rate and about a week delay in growth. (Since then the baby almost caught up and gave us a heart rate of 156 at the second ultrasound.)

For now the plan is to be seen every 4 weeks until 20 weeks. I was in last Thursday and my blood pressure is good for me (138/80) but still a bit high, so I’m back on BP watch every couple of days here at home. I have to do a 24 hour urine collect sometime this week to get a baseline (along with lots of blood work last week) for all my functions and protein leaking as part of Preeclampsia Watch 2015. The urine collection kit is hanging in our new entry way. Hello, old friend, our fridge has been missing you. I’m also a “test patient” in that I will be taking baby aspirin once a day to try to improve blood flow through the placenta. I would do anything to buy as much time to cook this kid as possible.

After 20 weeks we will re-evaluate since that’s sort of when I went haywire last time. This time could be nothing like last time. This time could be worse than last time. For a girl who lives and breathes by having lists and calendars and plans, this whole high-risk unknown pregnancy shit is pure torture.

There you have it – stay tuned for my usual, regular, reliable content! Thanks for hanging in there in my first trimester absence. They say the second trimester is supposed to be the easy and full of energy one (though these are the same women say that pregnancy is easy and breastfeeding comes as naturally as blinking, so…time will tell.)

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Stopped for a quick family photo during the Baby Steps 3k. Told ya I’ve been busy. 

Full-Time Mom Seeks Part-Time Job: Why is This So Hard?

17 Mar

I’m (newly) 31 years old and have held a job for the better part of the last 17 years. I’ve swept hair at a salon, cashiered at a grocery store, worked my way from an aide to a teacher to an assistant director at early childhood centers. I’ve been an administrative assistant, an office manager (this position alone actually has a thousand sub-headings), and a marketing assistant. I’ve done family photography for several years. I’ve written 3 books (and have even seen some time on best seller lists). I know Social Media, Outlook, Excel, Office, PowerPoint. I’d say this all counts for something.

So why is it so hard find a job that doesn’t involve me right back to where I started, ringing up groceries and asking a customer if they want paper or plastic? And am I running the risk of becoming this:

toddler

I left my full-time job after Ben was born. We didn’t have a choice, and I don’t regret doing everything we’ve done to keep our preemie healthy and safe. And with a lot of sweat, blood and tears (and the occasional migraine…okay, more than occasional) we’ve made it 15 months with me technically “unemployed”. But it can’t last forever, and my goal lately has been to try and find a job that isn’t just ringing up groceries. And let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a cashier. A job is job, and money is money, and food on the table is food on the table.

But after almost two decades of  work, do I really want to put such a “step down” on a resume? Isn’t it bad enough in this male driven work world that I left a job at all to “just be a mom”? What happens if I cashier, and then in a few years when Ben is older and I’m ready to work full-time again I have to explain why I went from a career to a cashier?

So I’ve been looking around, and it’s been stressful. And disappointing. I interviewed back in January for a company that got me so far along in the process that I did a job shadow and a background check…and then I never heard from them again. I interviewed last week for a design and communication position and while the job was perfect for me, they need the 20 hours to be filled in the morning and in the afternoon. I did some shakey math and even if we put Ben in daycare 15-20 hours/week, and juggled the heck out of Dustin work schedules, I would probably be making very little after the cost of putting Ben in daycare.

Isn’t it 2015, a world in which working remote has taken over the traditional expectations of being chained to a desk? How does one find the remote positions? Or at the very least, a job that uses my skills and dare I say a bit of my passions and interests that fills a need during the late afternoon and weekends? I’ll even give up my weekends and time with my family if it means we get to keep Ben at home.

So the search continues. I know that something will come up, I just wish it wasn’t hiding itself so well.

Why I STILL Need A Car Wash.

8 Mar

My Friday was so out-of-a-movie crazy that it simply has to become a blog post.

Ben was in a mood from the moment he woke up (6:08a.m. is way too early) and spent the morning throwing food from his tray and crying over every big and not-so-big thing. At one point he was crying because I had locked him out of the kitchen while I tried to clean up/eat my breakfast, but was consoled by trying to grab a chunk of Ace’s fur while she walked by. He started to giggle and leaned forward to head-butt her (she’s such a saint) when Ace turned around and stepped on his hand. Normally this would just make him giggle harder, but on Friday…oh, the humanity. The tears. The gut-wrenching sobs.

Who needs breakfast, eh?

We finally hit the road to meet up with Tia and her trio for a morning at the Maple Maze. This went well, and Ben enjoyed crawling around contemplating what life would be life if he were big enough and daring enough to crawl into the climbers or, dare I suggest it, walk. 

He fell asleep in the car, and not wanting to potentially wake him up I decided to get a car wash on my way home. The car was filthy and I was getting really tired of wearing salt and road dirt on my shirts, pants, diaper bag, hair, elbow, everything. The day was bright and sunny so it sort of surprised me when the first car wash I stopped at was closed. The second gas station I tried had a big “out of order” sign on the car wash entrance. But like Goldilocks, the third gas station was just right. I filled up the car at the pump (one of the most glorious inventions for parents everywhere) and waited patiently for my car wash code to be printed out on the receipt.

After a moment the pump BEEPED in my face and displayed a message. “Unable to print ticket. Please see cashier inside.”

This. Is. Why. I. Paid. At. The Pump.

I spent at least 5 minutes debating whether I should just chuck my $4.99 to the already rich oil companies or wake up Ben, carry him inside and get the receipt. I just can’t throw money away, so I unbuckled my snoozing baby and began the walk inside. Just before I got to the door I noticed a damp sensation creeping up my arm. I shifted his weight and the dampness hit my side. I flipped him over and his entire butt and half his pant leg are drenched. Apparently someone dreamed about having their hand in a warm bowl of water, because his diaper had literally burst.

So I stood in line behind a construction worker buying cigarettes and playing that little machine that tells you if your lottery tickets are any good until the cashier asked if she could help me. “Yes, I bought a car wash and it said to come in for the receipt. Guess I picked the broken pump, number 7.”

She stared me down. “Are you sure you bought a wash?”

Deep breath. “Yes. Otherwise I wouldn’t have woken up my sleeping kid to come in here for a receipt. That’s why I paid at the pump…but it’s broken.”

She stared at me like she was deciding whether or not to press the panic button, but finally gave me my code.

We walked back to the car and I got Ben buckled back up – who was really not loving sitting in his soaking wet clothes – and, seeing the mile long car wash line (by this point it was the lunch hour and every Minnesotan had the same brilliant idea as me) decided to skip it, drive the 5 minutes home and get my kid into some dry clothes.

But on the plus side…we went to play Bingo that night and Dustin won $50! So I guess it all evens out. Somehow.

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