Dear New Mom

Dear New Mom,

I’m about to unleash the cliche of all cliches which you’ve heard a thousand times already, for that I’m sorry.  As a new mom, I got tired of hearing it too, I wanted to yell, “yes, I know, you’re like the thousandth person to tell me that.”  But they’re telling you this out of love and because no matter how many times you think you’ve heard it, you can never understand how terribly true it us until it’s too late.

Time is not your friend.

I know right now you may be counting the minutes until the next sleep cycle so you can shower the spit up off your body, praying for the moment your sweet, innocent, and incredibly clingy baby will let you have five seconds to pee alone, and wishing that this new little life you’ve brought into your home would just go the F to sleep already because if you don’t get at least a solid hour of sleep you may stop dead in your tracks.

But time is not your friend.

These moments that you’re anxiously waiting to pass by so you can have that mother daughter tea party under the sunshine of a beautiful spring day will pass by far quicker than you can imagine.  Those moments you’re wishing away dreaming of mother son dates where he’ll open the door for you in all his toddler might will be here and gone before you can even fathom.

I know this because I just put my four year old to sleep for the last time.  Tomorrow morning, she’ll wake up a five-year-old.  FIVE.  Like Kindergarten FIVE.  As in sleeping through the night, feeds herself, occupies herself (except for when I’m peeing- that part NEVER changes) FIVE.

And I have NO idea where the last five years have gone.  I can still remember vividly the moments of solitude I spent at the top of my (very clean) carpeted stair case five years ago tonight wondering if the precious baby girl being born the next day would be the one I got to call my daughter.  That night feels like it was just yesterday and a lifetime ago all in the same.  Tonight, I stand at the top of that same (not so clean) carpeted stair case lining it with balloons to welcome that sweet girl who IS my daughter when she wakes up tomorrow and I find myself wondering where have the last 1827 days gone.

My friend, I know being a new mom is HARD, really, really HARD (spoiler alert, it stays hard, just in different ways), but the next time someone tells you to cherish every.single.moment don’t brush it off because you’ve heard it a thousand times, listen to that person who is wiser for knowing it.  Because as hard as these first few months are with this little being who depends on you for every.single.tiny.thing time is fleeting, and relentless, and it doesn’t stop.

So, please, hold that sweet little innocent squish just a few extra moments for me, the mother who just kissed goodnight the four-year old, soon to be five-year old who has transitioned from that squishy newborn, to the tumbling toddler, to the curious preschooler, to the beautiful, sweet young lady all in what feels like a blink of an eye.



Posted in Adoption, Baby E, Confessions, Dream Come True, God is Faithful, Happy Birthday, Parenting, Personal Reflection, Taking Care of E | Leave a comment

Am I Woman Enough?

Today, as we celebrate the many fierce, strong, admirable women who have helped pave the way for a foundation of equality in our country, I’m left pondering a question I’ve been pondering quite a bit the last few months.

Am I woman enough?

I can’t make babies.  For the most part, I don’t particulary care about this fact, more of an annoyance that I have the equipment that functions quasi-properly that I have to put up with (IE: visits from Aunt Flow), but doesn’t do the primal function a woman’s body was made to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I am every bit a mother as the woman who gave birth to her child through her vagina or via C-section, but my “womanly” body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, and sometimes that kind wears on you.

But more so than my crappy ovaries that do more harm than good most days, is the fact that I am getting ready to pause my career, yet again, to raise my child.  While I know many of my fellow moms will tell me this is the most important job a woman parent can have, I know there are the nay-sayers who say, “don’t you want more in life?”

I am blessed, so blessed, to be surrounded by incredibly successful women with incredible careers who are also amazing mothers.  I am in constant awe of their ability to be both executives at the office and snack leader at school.  But I am a selfish being and I hate the thought of missing anything.

In my early 20’s, I characterized success as having my own office, business cards with my name on them, a company paid for cell phone, and a reserved parking spot.  And I had all of that.  Today, when I think of what would make me, Jenn T., a successful person- none of those things come to mind.  I had an abrupt end to my own professional career and I worried I would never be the same because of it.  That I would fall behind, my skills would become atrophied, companies would see a lapse in professional experience as a weakness.  And truthfully, I’m not that person.  Honestly, if I met 20-something year old me in an alley, I don’t think I’d recognize myself.

And then, after 3.5 beautiful years at home, I realized- I can’t do that type of corporate work again.

I mean, God forbid something happen to my husband, if I needed to, I could go back to corporate America.  I would make the sacrifice for my family in a heartbeat if it was needed.  But I am blessed that as of now, I don’t need to.

So, when the time came that I had more time on my hands, I found a new passion, nursing.  And I pursued it.  And I realized in the pursuit that nothing is exactly what you think it will be.  That you can’t just “go to school when your kid goes to school.”  That there is homework, and outside opportunities that you take to give you an “edge up” not only career wise, but to BE a better nurse to your patients and their families, because when I do something, I don’t just do it…I DO IT.  And what is required to “do it” is sacrifice.

And now, my sweet baby girl is getting ready to start Kindergarten and I’ve realized, I don’t want to miss it.  I want to volunteer at her school and know the teachers and staff, I want to be there to send her off for her day saying, “learn lots”, a phrase my dad still to this day says to me before I go to class.  I don’t want lunch visits from mama to be a surprise or special event, I want them to be normal for her.  I want to chaperone field trips and shuttle her from school to dance, or soccer, or whatever extracurricular she has picked.  I want to help with homework and listen to childhood giggles as we escort her friends to our house for afterschool play dates.  THIS is what success is to me now.

Did you see how nowhere in there I mentioned Straight A’s?  It’s because I’ve had to realize that all of the above is not possible while being full-time in my nursing blocks.  It’s just not.  I literally don’t control my schedule with the exception of ranking three boxes 1-3: Traditional (daytime), Evenings, or Hybrid.  That’s it.  After I’ve checked that box, my schedule is completely at the mercy of a scheduler juggling 300 nursing student schedules.

So, over the past few months as the deadline to apply for my nursing program has been looming so heavily, I’ve pondered, and debated, and asked if by pausing my nursing program to commit to being a Stay-At-Home parent to my kid, am I an embarrassment to feminism.  Am I putting to shame the pathways that millions of women before me have not just worked hard for, but literally suffered for?

My answer is – maybe.  To make myself feel better, I tell myself that feminism isn’t about DOING it all, but about the choice to do what it is you want to do.  My husband certainly supports my decision to stay at home, but would also adamantly support any professional pursuits I had.  Maybe, just maybe, I had the taste of professional success early in my life to know what it felt like which is why I don’t have fears of “missing out” on something now.  Or maybe I tell myself all of this simply to justify my decision knowing that there are extraordinary women out there every day who have both professional success and are amazing mothers.

Regardless, today among many days, this is the question that weighs on my mind in the few moments of silence I have at home with a sick preschooler.

Am I truly woman enough?

Posted in Amazing Husband, Baby E, College, Confessions, Fear, Humility, Nursing School, Parenting, Student Nurse, Taking Care of E, Things That Make You Hmm.., Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zeros and Fives

Exactly a month from today my little girl will turn five (I only get to say this every 4 years- the exactly a month from today she has a birthday part, not the turning five part- thank you Leap Year!)

I thought by now that even though each birthday represented another year she had grown older, that they would become more common, less emotional to me.  But this birthday is hitting me hard.

The older I get, the less significant birthdays have become.  I mean, turning 32 was not a big deal to me and I really didn’t feel the need to celebrate it.  It seems like after 21, birthdays ending in zeros and fives become the ones worth celebrating, everything else is just kind of, well, another year ’round the sun.

And this year is my sweet little girl’s first “five”.

This five brings so many milestones.  She’ll be starting at a new elementary school in the fall for Kindergarten that I painstakingly agonized over (and still am quite frankly).  She’s become so much more independent and set in her routine (much like her mama).  She’s making her own friends and her own decisions about her “future” (extra circulars my friends, we’re not talking college…yet).  She’s losing the very last few drops of her toddleresque essence and turning into a full fledged young lady.  And that’s hard.

I sat in bed last night thinking about the day I met her.  The day they handed me this swaddled, 6 lb 19 oz bundle of squishy newness with big, beautiful blue eyes, recalling the exact moment when my heart no longer beat inside my chest, but rather as this new being.  The moment that my heart and my brain in a rare moment of synchronization, looked at her and said, “Finally, we’ve found you!”

And while I know that as we embark on the journey of bringing home our next child, I’ll experience this moment yet again, but it will never be quite like the moment I had with her.  Her birthday isn’t just the day we celebrate her birth and her life, but also the very first day of my life that I was someone’s mama.  And even as we approach our 5th anniversary of that day, the gravity of those moments in which our hearts met is not lost on me.

So, as we begin to prepare to celebrate E’s first “Five”, expect a lot of joy, happiness, several celebrations (literally), lots of sentiment, high emotions, and lots of freak-outs.

And for your own well being, don’t even ask me about her next “zero”.


Posted in Adoption, Baby #2, Baby E, Dream Come True, God is Faithful, Happy Birthday, Parenting, Personal Reflection, Taking Care of E, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I Don’t Want You To Understand

I don’t want you to understand.

If you would have asked me this time last year if I understood what it was like to live with chronic pain, I would have likely said something like, “Well, not really, but I can empathize.”

No, last year version of Jenn, you can’t.

For 303 days, I have had a headache.  I have not had a migraine (there is a difference, a big difference).  My headache has never once radiated, moved, or varied.  It has literally been in the exact same spot for 303 grueling days.

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, I’ve tried essential oils, I’ve tried massage therapy, I’ve tried chiropractic care, I’ve tried medical and natural remedies for days.  So, please don’t try to sell me on your “perfect cure”.  My headache is not a migraine.  It is a form of nerve damage/nerve death.

This headache has led to 5 horrific inpatient hospital days, 5 emergency room visits, 4 (and counting) outpatient infusions, 3 Botox treatments, 10 trigger point injections, countless prescriptions, specialists, and second, third, forth, etc…opinions.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today.  Today, what I’m writing about is how I hope you NEVER truly understand what it means for me to have a chronic headache condition, or more generally, that I hope you never truly understand how devastating chronic illness is.

My condition isn’t life threatening.  I’m not undergoing treatments that could possibly kill me in an effort to save my life.  I’m grateful for that.  I do not have an aneurism or a tumor (that I know of anyway).  Nothing about my condition is visible from looking at me.  But I guarantee you, if you’ve seen me in the last 303 days, you’ve seen me in pain, likely excruciating pain.

Well, then why haven’t you said something to me, Jenn?  (I mean, if we’re close, I have because I’m real like that).  But even if you’re my bestest friend, I don’t tell you every day how much pain I’m in.  I don’t share with you how I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish what has to be done.  I’m not going to tell you that the reason I’m falling behind in my class is because I can’t stand to read 290832078 pages because it hurts too much.

I don’t want to burden you with the pain I’m burdened with.

I truly don’t want you to understand what my life is like.  I don’t want you to know the heartbreak that comes from hearing your child say, “No, I can’t do that my momma’s head hurts” when she’s invited to do something before she even asks me.  I don’t want you to understand the look of disappointment that registers on someone’s face when you cancel plans with them, again, because you simply just can’t.  I don’t want you to know the disappointment of knowing that you’ve sacrificed and worked hard for the last two years towards a career you’re realizing you may not ever get to do.

I don’t want you to know these things, because I see the look on your face when I mention my headache- again.  I hear the tone of your voice when I mention a new treatment or how bad it is today and you have no idea what to say.  I don’t want you to know what to say because if you knew what to say, it’d mean that you were living with a chronic condition too, and I don’t wish that for you.

What I do want you to know is that me canceling plans on you, is not personal, it literally means that I just can’t.  I want you to know that when we’re in a deep conversation and I look away and start digging through my purse, it’s not because I don’t care or don’t want to listen, it’s because I’m looking for medication, or an ice pack, or something to bring pause to the headache flair I’m having because I don’t want to have to turn around and leave.

I want you to know that when I’m not offering to be there for you during a moment of need, or happiness, or just pure let’s do this, it’s not because I don’t want to.  I WANT TO.  It’s because I just can’t.

I want you to know that I hate the person my headaches have turned me into just as much as you do, and that I, more than any of you, wish the “pre-headache” version of me was back too.

Posted in Confessions, Harry Potter Headache, Nummular Headaches, Nursing School, Parenting, Personal Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Mother Daughter Trip to Disneyland- Thoughts on Vacationing Without My Husband

This past week my daughter, E, and I spent 5 glorious days at the Disneyland Resort.  We had a magical time despite epic downpours and a small earthquake.  While I intend to make a separate post about some of my favorite memories about the trip, I wanted to start this mini-series by talking about vacationing without my husband, A.

This was the first trip I had ever taken without either my husband, my mom, or a friend in tow.  It was quite literally E and I the entire time.  And while it seems like a given, we of course missed A’s absence and both of us made mention of it on several occasions.  So, as I list the other things I missed about my husband not being on our trip, please don’t think that I also didn’t miss his presence.

  1. The men’s line is always shorter.  So, picture this.  Monday evening, E absolutely HAS TO ride Peter Pan, which always has a longer wait no matter how crowded the parks are.  She happily gets in line to wait the 45 minutes for Peter Pan.  While in line, nearly to the front, the ride breaks down, but we’re so close to the front E refuses to get out of line (technically I don’t even think we could get out of line if we tried as it’s tight quarters that close to the ride entry).  After waiting for 20 minutes for the ride to start again, E states she has to use the restroom.  Quite the conundrum, right?  We’ve now been in line over an hour and are SO close to the front, but she’s 4.5 and needs to potty.  After she assures me she can hold it, the ride begins to function and we’re loaded onto our ship and off to Never-land within 5 minutes.  We get off the ride and search for the nearest restroom.  We find said restroom and the line for the women’s restroom is out the door.  The line for the men’s restroom doesn’t exist.  Thankfully, she made it to the potty in the nick of time, but had A. been with us, it would have been much easier to let her slip into the men’s room with him.IMG_1190
  2. Being both the pack-mule and the child chaser is a tough job.  Usually when we vacation A. carries the backpack and pushes the stroller, I round up E.  Being solo (and in the midst of a lot of rain, therefor needing to haul around a ton of stuff) this made me both the pack-mule AND the child chaser.  Now, don’t get me wrong, E was very, very good.  But there were times (ahem- the monorail) where it was very exhausting trying to make sure I had eyes on her, the stroller folded, and a handle on all of our crap.  And in the specific instance of boarding the monorail, the very young men working the attraction didn’t have any empathy for a solo mama as they repeatedly and hastily informed me my stroller must be folded prior to boarding (admittedly, I waited for the very last minute).IMG_1556
  3. When your tires go bad, it’s nice to have your husband with you.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised by a diesel mechanic.  I know a decent amount about cars and tires (though admittedly not as much as I should) and all that stuff.  But when my tire pressure light came on in Palm Springs, I panicked.  I couldn’t find a Discount Tire (because in California they operate under America’s Tire Warehouse) and needed to get my air pressure situation under control.  After a brief freak out, the kind people at Firestone helped me out in Palm Springs.  However, when the valet retrieved my car upon check out and the tire pressure light was on, I knew something was up.  2 hours, $320.00, and two tires later, I knew what was going on.  While I handled it (for the most part) gracefully, having had my husband there would have made it much nicer.IMG_1632
  4. Selfie Sticks are banned in Disneyland.  So, I have very few photos of E and I together except a few selfies we managed to get when we weren’t in the downpour of rain (really Southern CA, you’re in a drought?)IMG_1329
  5. Being the only driver for a 6+ hour drive is way boring.  E was great in the car, she understood she had to either be able to get something for herself or wait until our next gas/food/restroom stop.  But still, driving across the desert alone as the only driver kind of stinks, especially when you get a later start than anticipated driving home (see #3.)
  6. Rain is really wet.  We got A LOT of rain while we were at Disneyland and while it made for empty parks, it also made for a very wet mama (E was warm and dry in her “rain shelter”.  Trying to get something out of my backpack (that was under my poncho) or other tasks requiring coordination in rain gear was much harder solo than it is with my partner in crime.IMG_1197
  7. He gives really great foot rubs.  Totally not going to lie, I am a spoiled woman when it comes to foot rubs.  And after trudging around all day in the rain, having one would have been really nice.  He did make up for it rather handsomely once we returned home though.

In all seriousness, while it was a really great experience for E and I to take a trip just the two of us, it truly wasn’t the same without A.  We have great family vacations together, and when a part of us isn’t present, it’s definitely felt by the others!

And in case you’re wondering what my husband was doing while we were gallivanting around Disneyland?  Working.  Apparently last week he put in over 80 hours in the office closing out the year and doing all that fun accounting type stuff.

Posted in Amazing Husband, Baby E, Disneyland, Taking Care of E, Travel, Traveling with Preschoolers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#JenntheRN: Is this really who I’m meant to be.

I’ve been writing a lot this year about grace and growth…well, maybe not writing a lot, but of the writings I’ve done this has been a central theme.  This post will be no different.

They say that you become a completely new person every seven years.  That within a seven-year time frame every cell in your body has had the opportunity to regenerate.  Maybe physiologically that’s only semi-true, but as a metaphor it feels so.very.true.

I’ve been in a place the last few weeks that I haven’t been in for quite some time.  The last time I was here was about 5 years ago, when I felt like no matter what I did, my plan for my life wasn’t working.

And it never did.

It didn’t work because God in His infinite wisdom had an even better plan, one that I couldn’t even imagine.  One that lead me to the outcome I so desperately wanted (motherhood) but in the most amazing way to the most incredible little girl.

So, here I am again, feeling those same feelings about other avenues of my life (not about motherhood).  I’m working hard on my nursing program, but continue facing adversities with everything from my actual classes to my actual program.  The program I thought I’d do isn’t an option, switching programs means adding classes that have absolutely nothing to do with my degree (hello, history of lost civilizations?) and in turn adding on additional semesters pushing back graduation and the light at the end of the tunnel.

I use this as an example of the place I’ve been the last few weeks.  This place of knowing so desperately what I want but feeling like it’s just so out of grasp that I’m ready to just say, forget it and return to the comfort of the life I knew.  And I’m stuck in this place of wondering is this God telling me not to do this or is this satan trying so hard to keep from doing it.  At what point do I head to the obstacles in my life and say “I give” accepting them as divine intervention?

As a control addict, Type A personality, feeling like the certainty I have about my life and future is questionable is one of the hardest things to handle only second to having no control over my daughter’s health and/or safety.

A dear friend commented on an Instagram photo I posted that stated “This shift in your life is too big for your blessing not to be”.  Her response was another similar quote that stated, “God cares more about your character than your comfort.”  I’m trying to remind myself of this as I navigate these waters of uncertainty, but it’s hard.

Life is hard.

As I prepare to enroll E in kindergarten, finding a school for her in our state (which is ranked 50th in education, #AZAwesome) is exhausting.  It’s very likely that I’ll have to change my campus location to accommodate her elementary school choice and that’s assuming I’ll be able to have some say in my clinical schedule.  Trying to figure all of this out with the continued hurdles in my nursing program honestly make me wonder if it’s worth it.  Maybe it’s just not the life I’m meant to live.

Maybe, it’s not the life God has intended for me.

Maybe I need to just take a step back, return to my life as Jenn, the stay at home mom.

Maybe I’m not meant to be #JenntheRN.

Posted in Nursing School, Personal Reflection | Tagged | 1 Comment

#JenntheRN: Leap Week

I know I’ve mentioned in passing on the blog before about being back in school pursuing a career change to nursing.  I’ve been so busy since starting school that I don’t know that I’ve actually taken the time to discuss what nursing school really means to me.  I can pretty much summarize it in one word.


Or maybe four words: Really Freakin’ Hard Growth.

As a very young adult, I was blessed to find a career I was able to excel in.  I promoted quickly in a rapidly growing organization and while I made more mistakes than you have patience to hear about, I grew with the organization as a leader, an analyst, an employee, but more importantly as an individual.  My career was in operations (numbers, analyzing, that sort of thing).  I did this because I was good at it and it came easy, but it never really made my heart happy.  And the longer I did it, the more obvious that became.

Oh, and also, I really dislike managing people.  Mentoring people, I loved.  I found that I often learned just as much from my employees as they learned from me.  But managing people was hard, and not in the “good for you hard” but in the “do I really have to do this” hard.  Not only did I have to put up with junk for employees with poor work ethic (and the employees who clearly were oscar winning actresses for hiding their issues long enough to be hired) but I had to deal with higher level management dictating to me what to do with or to my employees.

At first, I thought an employer change doing the same job would make me happy.  And it did, for a while, but you can’t make yourself love something that you just don’t love.  While the decision to leave the workforce came because E was too sick to be in daycare, truly I believe it was God’s way of finally saying to me, “I’ve tried to send you subtle signs, but you aren’t listening, you’re done.”

The three years I spent at home with E were a huge blessing to us.  While for most of my life I couldn’t imagine being a stay-at-home parent, I now find myself wondering how I’ll ever return to work.  Beyond my time with E though, my time away from corporate America has also allowed me to figure out not only what talents I have for things I’m naturally good at, but what actually makes me happy.

For years, I’ve felt a calling to be a nurse, and when E started school, I saw it as an opportunity for me to ease back into school part time (since she was/is in school part time) and then ease into full time once she did.

My first semester was fairly easy.  I took classes that highlighted my natural talents of math and physical science.  I received straight A’s with minimal effort, in hindsight, this was good.  It gave me the confidence to sign up for a second semester, which was brutal.  As I forge through the pre-requisites to (finally) start my nursing blocks, I’m realizing just how hard going back to school is.

For the past decade or so of my life, I’ve really only used the talents that I already had.  Sure, I fine tuned them and enhanced them, but for over 10 years I’ve been using the same set of skills for the most part.  The skills I need to be a successful nursing student (let alone nurse) are in-part those skills, but are also part skills that I haven’t used in a very, very long time.  And friends, it is NOT like riding a bike.

Today, I was speaking to a friend who is exhausted from their infant child who is experiencing a Leap Week.  At first, I comforted this friend assuring her it would pass (failing to mention another one would be all to soon behind it), but then I had a revelation.

I am in a Leap Week (or maybe a Leap 1/2 decade).

I am that cranky, whining, tired baby who can’t seem to comprehend or communicate WHY I’m frustrated or WHAT is frustrating me, only that I’m tired, and cranky, and frustrated, and confused.

And suddenly, my sympathy was with the infant, not my friend (sorry!)

That is what this growth is.  I am exercising and stretching my knowledge.  Physiologically I am forming new neuron pathways in my brain.  Emotionally I am exhausted from the learning, and the studying and the (shitty) act of trying to balance school, studies, homework, mom-life, being a wife, being a daughter, and being a friend (of which the last three have kind of gotten the very slim pickings of what I have to offer).

And friends, this type of growth is HARD.  And while I may be able to mask my frustrations a bit better than an infant, on the inside I am doing the exact same thing.  Sitting on the floor, surrounded by juice, snacks, my favorite toys, and the people I love, but just crying for no apparent reason other than these physiological and emotional changes required for the growth I need (and want) to succeed are daunting and just hard.

Really freakin’ hard.

Posted in College, Leap Week, Managing People, Nursing School, Parenting, Student Nurse | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment