The Executive Mom

Times are changing and so are moms. But do any of you have times where you wish that you could be a stay at home mom because you feel you are losing time with your baby (and we ever so wish they could stay teeny tiny)?

I’ll admit I’ve had that feeling. I tried staying home for a week and said, ok- this is not for me. I do believe, however,  that there needs to be a strong balance between both work and being a mother, as one or the other can easily consume. In my case, work was cosuming my life and I would bring it (and a crappy attitude) back home. I was not only managing two different products, but a very large group of people that reported directly to me. I had becomed accustomed to this as the Logistics and Customs Brokerage business can be pretty demanding and I managed like Sandra Bullock on The Proposal, but doing this with a new baby was a whole new dimension of crazy.

I missed my daughter and also hated the fact that I would come home tired, in a bad mood, and would only get to see for 30 minutes before she went to bed. I was also starting to thing, “Is this stress really worth it?” Suddenly two months ago and out of nowhere, a recruiter for a competitor reached out to me and asked if I was interested in an executive position as a subject matter expert for sales that focused on A level clients. She was looking for a hunter, but also mentioned that I could home office and plan my travel as I deemed necessary.

This sounded perfect. I bounced the idea off my family, friends, and also took a vast amount of time to contemplate the opportunity. I had been managing people, a regulatory environment, and a P&L for almost five years now and going back to sales and development (where I first started my career) was going to be a complete 180 degree turn. But the idea of having the mental space and time to organize my life and prioritize was extremely appealing. In short, I took the job and here I am. So far, this is my third day and I already feel a large weight has been lifted off. Not because the expectations are less (if anything, they are more), but because I can actually focus on the end goal and I am not being pulled in ten different directions.

So what is the point of this? If you are a new mom and have always been used to working, don’t stop for fear that you are going to miss out on your baby’s first couple of months. Yes, it does suck when you go back to work, but if you feel like you are spending more than you should in the office, do not immediately think you need to stop working. Go find something else that motivates you, makes you happy, and allows you to spend that time you want with baby and the family. There are opportunities out there, you just need to look (or maybe they will find you)!

Happy Hunting.

 

 

You & I (and our baby)

Couples with children often forget to separate some time for themselves to reconnect as partners.

Right on Livia’s six month birthday, we decided to take a little R&R at the beach in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca to spend some quality time with each other, have some adult time with friends, and leave our little one in the care of my parents.

Let me tell you, I was so excited for this trip as I knew we could use some much needed time together, but I was also dreading leaving our baby for four days straight. I had just stopped breast feeding, so I was a little apprehensive about the whole situation and seriously felt she would forget who her mother was.

The moment we dropped her off with my parents I got teary eyed, but my hubby was super supportive and reassured me, as did my parents.

It is hard leaving something you love so much behind- but I also knew I had to take care of us as a relationship. Plus we weren’t going anywhere far and I knew my mom had been looking forward to taking care of her for some time now.

So now we returned from our travels and I can tell all new moms and dads one thing- rip the bandaid and take the trip. Yes, you’ll want to talk to your baby every day, but you’ll also get some much needed sleep and relaxation without having to worry about what time baby will be hungry or cranky. You’ll get to cuddle and sleep in, as well as have fun going out and getting pampered with a massage or two.

We had a great time together at the beach, spoke to Livia every day, and enjoyed ourselves.

One thing that I think is very important is that you need to put yourselves first as a couple in order to move forward as a family. Show your children how much you care, love, and respect each other so that they can learn to act the same way in the future. Strong together is better than strong alone because your messages and lessons will be more concrete and hold more stance in your kids’ eyes.

Yes, you’ll get occasional feelings of guilt for leaving your children behind, but it needs to happen for everyone’s sanity and to ensure that they are also used to being around different people. After all, who is going to stay around after you send your kids off to college? Your significant other.

(I will tell you, though, the moment I saw my daughter at the airport coming back from the beach, my heart exploded.)

5 of the Most Useless Baby Products

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion on this subject, as some things work for some parents and some things don’t. I have, however, compiled a list of my top 5 most useless baby products that I have come across with hopes that this will at the very least keep you informed and save you some much needed cash for other, more useful things- like diapers, Desitin, and swaddles.

Looks can be deceiving, so no matter how cool an object looks, research it first!

So here we go…

1. Wipe Warmer– When I first found this on Amazon, I was flabbergasted. I don’t think any parents before 2010 used a wipey warmer. My baby will not be raised having her butt cleaned with warmed wipes only to become the most demanding child in the planet. I call this the “wipey warmer” syndrome. I could already see her asking me warm her towels in the drying machine.

2. Premium Bottle Warmer– unless you are willing to wait 20 minutes for the bottle to warm while your little one is throwing an ever loving fit, then go for it. You will but wait only once. I personally prefer the old stovetop method, especially if you have a gas stove.

3. Temperature bath ducky– seriously, just stick your elbow in the water.

4. Baby Knee Pads- is your baby rollerskating? Probably not, let them figure out the crawling thing on their own, which we’ve doing for thousands of years.

5. Pacifier Wipes– Seriously.

What have you found to be the most useless baby product?

What are you feeding your baby?

I have heard so many different schedules and parenting hacks for baby foods, from eating super-charged lactation cookies to increase breast-milk production and using the latest bottle warming technology (this thing takes forever, I prefer the old stove-top option), all the way to baby food processors and baby formula pod Keurig machines.

My method was pretty simple. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my daughter as long as I could and then introduce a natural diet full of fresh and nutritious ingredients. I breastfed Livia exclusively until she was five months old and then I noticed she started getting more demanding as my work hours got crazier. As committed as I was (I even took a manual breast pump on my ski trip when she was four months old, took my pumping breaks at the tops of the mountains in 10F weather, and  would store the milk in a little backpack until I made my way down the mountain), something had to give.

Taking my mother’s and grandmother’s advice, I started supplementing her breast-milk with evaporated milk and water (an old hack used by countless mothers back in the 60’s and 70’s). I was pretty apprehensive about the whole situation, but Livia sucked that first bottle down in lightning speed and did very well with the initial introduction. I asked several pediatricians what they thought, and I received the same feedback- as long as she is eating and gaining weight, you are gold. Why not formula (I have been asked this several times)? I felt her digestion was very similar to when she was only on breastmilk and she was handling it like a champ. Why change something when it works and is equally healthy?

A month after the fact, I started introducing solid foods because she kept staring longingly at me whenever I had a spoon in my hand. I was so excited to use my Beaba Babycook steamer and blender, so I armed myself with organic  bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples and started one new food each week. So far she is absolutely in love with her sweet potatoes. After I steam these, I mix a little bit of evaporated milk to get the consistency where I need it to be, and she is over the moon. As a working mother, it is hard to cook her fresh food on a daily basis. But what I do is simple- I cook once a week and store her food in baby freezer food trays and defrost them on the stove-top, never in the microwave.

So what is the right way? There really isn’t as long as you are raising a healthy and happy baby. There is only your way when it comes to your children. I felt “breast was best” to start off with (but I also was not planning on breastfeeding her into her toddler years), and I also think introducing them to a healthy diet to start off with is crucial. Not only because of their overall health, but because it develops babies into children that are willing to try new things and leaves them less prone to being picky eaters.

Now for those adventurous mamas that are still breastfeeding, but want to be able to go out on a little outdoor adventure like I did- I recommend the Evenflo Manual Breast Pump  , $16.99, Amazon. It worked like a charm and was easy to carry around.

Want to make your own baby’s food? BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker and Blender, 4.5 cups, Dishwasher Safe, Latte Mint $149.95, Amazon

Need help storing food for the little one? Best Homemade Baby Food Storage Container Freezer Trays  , $18.95, Amazon (the little pods serve as the perfect baby serving and are also easy to take out)

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Homemade sweet potatoes made with the Beaba Babycook and stored in the baby food freezer trays

 

I am a Mom

A second excerpt from 30 Days of Night… 

September 22-Day 2 I am a Mom

I woke up to the sunlight in pain and groggy- one nurse (who I did not like) had been in and out of the room giving me pain killers and trying to get me to wear a belly band. She told me I would also have to try and get up from the bed the next day. I almost had her thrown out of the room, but I was knocked out and in pain. But when I awoke, a new nurse greeted me warmly and she was awesome. Your father had spent the night in the room and was attentive and ready for action.

For some reason, I had developed an affinity for oatmeal overnight so I had breakfast ordered in and quietly ate with you father right next to me. Both grandmothers were about to show up, so I wanted to make sure I was ready to receive them and more importantly, ready to get out of bed and see you.

The friendly nurse came in and gave me a status update on your well-being. Everything was fine and you were being treated and were still hooked up to an IV so they could not give you the colostrum yet. They mentioned they would use it for that night. That was the moment she mentioned it was time for me to try and get out of bed as it was a requirement to make sure that the surgery went as it should have- so we got ready to try.

If I thought that last night’s contractions had been bad, trying to get out of bed was equally painful and brutal. It took your father and the nurse to get me upright with me screaming in pain and tears in my eyes (you will realize that I’ve cried more during these thirty days than I have in the past ten years of my life). After that painful ordeal of them basically dragging me into a wheelchair so I could go down and see you in the NICU ward, I was finally sitting down and ready to go.

Your father gingerly wheeled me out of the room, both of our excitement evident as we made our way through the hallway to the 8th floor- until your father decided to use me as a bumper car and ram me into the elevator door. I remember cussing him to the end of the world because of the uncontrollable pain, but now I laugh at the thought.

We finally got to see you and my heart was so full, it almost exploded. That was when they handed you over to me so I could try and see if I could breastfeed you. Sure enough, the moment you were in arms I instinctively put you towards me breast and you latched on with no issues. I remember giving myself another mental high-five and a pat on the back. Your father was also pretty impressed and I was so proud.

It was you and me and our little moment.

Once we were finished, we went back upstairs as you still had to be monitored. Both grandmas were already in the room and smiling. My mother brought you the cutest white teddy bear with balloons and lollypops, and I immediately thought I wanted one.

We finalized all the paperwork to where your name read Livia Isabella Jackson. Why Livia? It was a strong name, one fit for queens. Livia had been the third wife of emperor Augustus of Rome and considered one of the strongest women in Roman history. My name, Alexandra, was strong and literally meant “Defender of Mankind.” I felt you needed something equally mighty. Despite being tiny at birth, you were small, but strong. Why Isabella? Your father and I fell in love with that name since the very beginning. We had thought about names even before I got pregnant and the name Isabella kept sticking. Plus it was an added bonus that we could call you Bella. Truth be told, your father has liked that name since he saw the movie Twilight.

We spent the day chatting and going over last night’s events. Family called, pictures were taken, and we rejoiced in the fact of your birth. It was a pretty quiet day as I was not ready to receive other visitors, but it was nice to have people that loved you there. It takes a village, and I was beginning to see that.

I still had colostrum I wanted to pump out for you, so I took another try at the pump and rocked on. I pumped out about 18 CCs and had it sent over to the NICU ward for you. Your father cheered me on as he helped me get the pump parts together and sat with me- he was like my pumping cheerleader.

That night I slept soundly and was excited for you to be discharged and in the room with us. I was a Mom.

 

The Day you were Born

An excerpt from the First 30 Days of Night… 

Day 1- September 21 The Day you were Born 

I remember getting the call at 6am on Wednesday from the labor and delivery ward at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women letting me know that the bed was ready for your arrival.

I was so nervous that I told them I was going to be there in 20 minutes- yeah right. My mom, your father, and I rolled into the hospital at 7:30am, Starbucks in-hand. We let my uncle (the cardiologist) know, because he’s been at my side ever since I was born and when I diagnosed with Leukemia when I was 7, so of course he was going to be there.

We were actually supposed to be there the day before, but apparently there had been an emergency at the hospital, everyone decided to have a C-Section that night and there was a baby born in an elevator. Clearly, it was not time for you to come.

Once we got there, I was escorted into the waiting area with my mom while your father parked the car (he refused to valet, despite our several objections- more on this later). The nurses came in to receive me and noted that coffee in my right hand and told me I had about 15 minutes to down it. Apparently it is not every day a mother about to go into labor comes in with her Grande cup of Pike’s Place Roast.

I was escorted into the “laboring room,” which silently scared the hell out of me, but I never showed it. Especially when I saw a huge fitness ball on the corner and I remember thinking… “What the hell are they expecting me to do with this thing?” The nurse told me it was for laboring. I actually ended up bouncing on that ball and it felt pretty good when I felt the contractions at their strongest.

The two nurses that were assigned to me were wonderful and super sweet, in addition to being very patient the entire time. After running all the tests and diagnostics, it was time for me to be induced. The inducement process started at 9am and when that first contraction came, I thought I was going to keel over and die. Little did I know this was nothing, just the start, and it was about to go down. I was given some sedatives to minimize the pain, but you were extremely responsive and ready to get out.

Finally, my water broke at 1:30pm. I felt a pop inside me and I remember thinking, “I read about this in some Facebook feed.” I decided to make the announcement and sure enough, I was right. So there I was, laboring with pain medication and you were just reluctant to come out. Once I received the epidural, I felt nothing and decided to use my time to nap until you were ready.

I remember being woken up several times by the nurses to re-position the monitors on my stomach and several concerned whispers. In the midst of my nap, I remember my uncle telling my mom that you were going to end up being delivered a C-Section (which was not my plan). The doctor has told me at your 28 week appointment that only one person could be in the operating room if you resulted in a C-Section delivery. With my uncle having saved my life when he was the one who diagnosed me with Leukemia, and my fiancee, your father, who I love with my heart, both there- it was a heart-wrenching decision to make, which I had not even thought about making because I had decided to deliver you naturally due to this specific reason.

So I was completely shocked when the attending doctor came in and spoke to me in a serious, but friendly tone. You were going to be delivered via C-Section immediately.

It wasn’t even two minutes when an entire staff of nurses trotted in to prep me, I was told to call your father because he had gone to get something to eat, and my uncle was putting on his scrubs. I was on the verge of tears  as it was not even five minutes after I called your father and he told me was parking that I was being rolled into the O.R.

I remember bright blue and green overhead lights, the anesthesiologist behind me trying to coax me to relax, my uncle closely examining the incision being made so I wouldn’t get butchered, and my doctor rushing in because he had just left his shift (but returned, because he is the best), and me staring at the ceiling with a million thoughts running across my mind, tears in my eyes. I felt pressure from the other side of the curtain, some prodding, but no pain. This went on for about ten minutes.

Finally, you were pulled out of me, raised for two seconds atop of the curtain and taken to the neonatal station next to my bed. You were a tiny little baby at 5lbs and 15 ounces, 18 inches long born at 8:32pm. The neonatal team wanted to make sure you were healthy, and that is one I had your father called in. I remember him coming into the room with a surgical mask on, and thinking what pretty blue eyes the doctor had (keep in mind I was under a lot of sedation) and it took me a second to realize it was actually your father under that mask. He was teary eyed, but I could see his eyes smiling down on me.

I was so happy to see him and even more ecstatic when they handed you to us, all bundled up, after they had your screenings done. You were so small and born with a little bit of jaundice, so you had to be taken to the NICU for a couple of nights until it cleared up.

I was rolled out of the OR and back into the laboring room until my room was ready, in complete disbelief to what had happened, but so ready to have you in my arms again. That is when the breastfeeding pump was rolled my way. With all the wires and cups sticking out from the device, I had no idea how to use it (I never took a class, thinking I would just wing it), and the nurse said you needed to get my colostrum to help wash away your jaundice, so it would be better that I get to it.

Being the resilient woman that I am, I was determined to have you home by the time I was discharged so I hooked myself up to this strange looking machine and pumped away. I felt like a cow. I pumped out 15CC of colostrum and put the cap back on the little tube. When the nurse came back in, she was astonished as it was enough for three to four feedings. I recall feeling pride in my coma-induced state and giving myself a mental high-five.

I do not remember much of what happened after that as the anesthesiologist gave me some pretty strong stuff, but I do know I dreamed of you.

The Evil Eye

I was never hugely superstitious (but do come from a family that is) until Livia was born. Once she came into this world, there were red bracelets and ribbons all over the place- on her crib, in her car-seat, on her diaper bag, on her ankle. I was very guarded about who came near her and any time we would leave the house, she would have to wear a red ribbon. My house and her crib ended up looking like the love locks at Brooklyn Bridge, except these were ribbons.

For those of you that don’t know, Latina moms are very wary of the “Mal de Ojo” (the infamous Evil Eye). We learn from our mothers to protect our infants and children from over admiring glances and envious stares as this could lead to illness or bad luck. In order to guard against these maladies, babies are gifted “eye” or red colored bracelets, which the mothers very much appreciate as this is considered protection for the baby (I think I received over 10 bracelets, ribbons, and blessed strings).

Regardless, this leads me to a much greater point which is we would do anything to protect our children, even if it means tying twenty ribbons to each one of their tiny toes. As a previous sans baby adult, I would like at the “eye” or “hamsa” bracelets as something of fashion or to be work as a fad. As we become mothers, it is interesting to see to what degrees we will go to safeguard our children- from blessing the house, to getting them baptized, ensuring that no one steps into the nursery with shoes on, having them wear protective jewelry, or even signaling the sign of the cross on their forehead at night, we become fiercely protective creatures- not only in the way we act, but also come to embrace the things that we might have ridiculed our own mothers for. Why do we do this? Because you really don’t know what it is to love something more than yourself until you have created life.

We have no problem doing the things that harm ourselves as humans, but will do or believe anything in the world to ensure that our children stand safeguarded because we know the evils out there.

So more than anything, what are we really concerned about? Making sure our children are protected from jealous eyes or ensuring that they don’t make the same mistakes we make as adults?

Little by little, we all become our mothers.

As a note- my daughter still wears her eye bracelet. Not taking any chances here!

 

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