Yep, I’m still winging it.

Half. A. Year. I have raised a baby for half a year. Previous to this, I have had no experience nannying, babysitting, and the last time I held a baby was when I was about 18/19 years old. I think a little bit of the inspiration to write this blog throughout Zara’s first months of her life comes from my complete lack of knowledge surrounding motherhood. We constantly see moms in movies or on TV just completely having their shit together. I think of Rachel from Friends who made having and raising a kid look absolutely sexy (maybe it was just Jennifer Aniston, but I digress). There are no portrayals of walking out of the house with a leaky boob, going a day without brushing your teeth or remembering to put deodorant on, or literally never changing out of your pjs for like 5 (ok 7) days. I am even guilty of posting the great times I have with Zara, so just for that I will make this blog’s picture a picture of Zara crying because her teeth hurt, which pretty much sums up months 4 and half of 5.

Months 4 and 5 ALMOST took me. Milestones that happened in months 4 and 5: major growth spurt, teething, I received my hospital bill, I realized that I might not be able to finish my summer classes, and nobody took naps. They say that babies get cranky/frustrated when they are on the verge of figuring a new skill out. LET ME TELL YOU: months 4 and 5 had a lot of frustration and then the last week of month 5 it was like BAM! I can roll on my belly! BAM! I can walk around in my walker and try to touch the outlets! BAM! I can eat! BAM! I have two teeth! Two months of a cranky baby turns into one week of milestone after milestone after milestone.

It is really hard to describe the rollercoaster of emotions that I have faced over the past months, but I’ll try. As a mom, I feel guilt, worry, anger (yes, at my own child), and loneliness usually all in one day. Am I spending enough time with my baby? But also – am I giving my baby enough time by herself to figure out her own problems (right – what problems do you have as a 4 month old who cries and then gets food??), did I let her cry too much today? Did I coddle her too much today? Did I seem too frustrated with her today? AND the one that gets me the most: Man, I counted down the hours to her bedtime STARTING AT 9AM! I must be a bad mom. Some days I wish I had a counterpart who was equally as invested in successfully raising a kid as I am, and some days I love getting into my bed alone. Some days I look back and say damn I mommed really amazingly today, and some days I look back and realize I spent the whole day stressed and tired and angry.

Continue reading

Real Life

A lot of my friends who don’t have kids (which is a huge chunk of them) have asked me how motherhood is and what having a kid is really like. I almost wrote this yesterday, which would have been a bad idea because yesterday was one of those rare great days where everything goes as scheduled, crying is at a minimum, and napping is at a maximum. You seriously forget anything bad that has happened ever and it probably would have been the most inaccurate blog post I have ever written. This always happens to me at night too – I look at my sleeping baby and all of the screaming crying for absolutely NO reason, the explosions, the leaky boobs, the nap fights that happened that day (or the naps that DIDN’T happen) completely erase from my brain.

I am going to start this post off by saying I love my kid more than life. Seriously. No regrets at all – I still check on her to see if she is breathing, I freak out when she spits up, I mean, this girl is rad, BUT – this shit is HARD. HARD. I was thinking about it the other day as Zara refused to nap (which causes her to spiral into an overtired death eater mood that really can humble a person). In life, there are things you won’t be good at. For me, I can compare this to sports – if I wasn’t good at a skill, I would just work really hard at it. Over and over again – and progress would be made. Parenting is like practicing that skill over and over and over again having great intentions but also no clue what you are doing, and seeing absolutely no progress being made. I wake up in the morning saying OK, today I am going to get Zara to nap – you follow the routines, you feed at a certain time, you try to wear them out, they yawn, but as soon as you put that tiny human in anything that resembles a bed – they wake up all over again but this time a little less happy and a lot more angry. So some days my parenting advice is: just make it to bedtime and then treat yo self. It sounds horrible, but once you have kids there will be days you wait until those crazy babies finally give up and close those teeny eyeballs. Continue reading

Uncensored Motherhood

It has been a very long time since I have sat down to write a blog about my life, and it probably has to do with the fact that I only write (for the most part) when I feel I can put a funny spin on it. To be honest, the past 4 months have made it really hard to find that funny, blog-worthy spin. BUT, a lot has happened – I gave birth, my babe is 2 months old now, and my spring semester started (and is now close to ending). There is a lot of random stuff to cover, so bear with the disorganized structure – which is a great metaphor to how my life feels right now (yeah, I am fancy).

Birth is not like the movies. Not one bit. At least for me. I have learned that everyone’s experience with birth and motherhood is different (parents who say “kids should be sleeping through the night at (blank) months old” probably had a miraculous perfect baby and great for you – everyone is different), so by no means do I speak for all moms, some might have really enjoyed pushing a watermelon out of their canal – and that is really bad ass. I mean, my mom did it 3 times, wow. I went into labor at 4AM on Friday morning, which was actually really anticlimactic. I basically just sat in my bed while timing my contractions and told my mom and then told my sister and we took the day off, stayed in our pjs and basically just sat on the couch as the pain increased (which was at 6PM). No rushing, no frantic screaming, no crazy car ride – I actually drove through Chick-fil-a on my way to the hospital (maybe don’t bring in fast food when you are going to deliver, because you will get judged).

We make it to the hospital, and the main things I remember are: 1) Not being taken seriously at first (I couldn’t possibly know I was in labor without a husband!) until they realized I was 5 cm dilated and were like “oh shit, lets get you to a room.” 2) My sister (who is soft, and gentle, and nice) was the best birthing partner ever. I thought I needed a super intense, in-your-face push-helper, but her gentleness calmed my off the charts high blood pressure. She never once made a face like “OMG Lexi, a human head is emerging from your body and also destroying your lady bits at the same time.” 3) Feeling so relieved to have pushed that baby out, but also so freaked out because of how “not motherly” I felt.

It wasn’t like this “BAM! Baby is out, so now you feel like a parent with this special bond” for me. For me, holding Zara after the birth was kind of amazing yet terrifying, I mean a human (who was very smooshed) was looking at me (more because she was hungry and literally only wanted to eat) – I was probably as clueless as she was. And that is how I felt for the first month of her life- clueless and simply a source of food for her. (But, don’t get me started on breastfeeding – some might think it is gross, or weird to talk about, but it literally is the EXACT nutrients they need – freaking amazing.)

The first month of Zara’s life – A LOT of crying, like A LOT. From Zara, from me, more from Zara. My grandma and I drove to South Carolina to visit my parents and have my dad meet her for the first time and I am not lying when I say she cried the ENTIRE three days. I know for some people this is trivial, because babies can cry up to years in a row. I don’t know how those people do it, so if you ever know of someone going through that, go over and hold their screaming baby so they can grab an Advil.

I didn’t (and some days still don’t) feel like a mom. I felt like a babysitter who was like Pavlov’s dog and every time I heard the cry, I just whipped my boob out and started feeding a baby. Babies have bad eyesight, so it didn’t even really feel like Zara knew who I was or was looking at me. I started going back to classes, slowly falling behind, trying to squeeze in homework between crying and feeding, and most days I would end the day in my bed feeling like I was failing at school, failing at being a mom, and failing at keeping up with everyone/hanging out/actually asking my friends how THEY were doing. A lot of people told me, the mother-child bond is the greatest, and to be honest, I didn’t feel it right away. I don’t want to be a downer to people who want to have kids or are going to have kids, but you lose parts of yourself in the first months. My schedule for a while was wake up, feed Zara, go to class, feed Zara, go to class, feed Zara, rock crying (screaming) Zara until she fell asleep, go to sleep, and then wake up and do it all over again. Weeks go by and you are like “who the hell am I?”

It’s not all bad, it’s hard, but there are definitely silver linings. My grandma got to come stay with me for 3 weeks, and Zara got to know her great-grandma (who does not look as old as great-grandma sounds). My friends got to meet her, even some friends who went to college in Michigan with me. My mom, my dad, and my sisters all have helped me rock her to sleep, hung out with her, tried to stack cookies on her head, volunteered to change an explosive diaper. I have two friends, one who was due a month after me, another due two months after me who have formed a “mom gang” with me. I have called them to ask if they could just hold my kid while I take a shower, and they don’t hesitate to lend a hand.

This past month has been so much better, it takes every mom different times to finally reach a point where they feel like a parent, where they are connected, and although some days I still feel like a babysitter, I have really started to figure things out and feel confident in my abilities as a student, parent, and friend. These past few mornings, I have had to wake Zara up so I can feed her before I go to class. I walk over to her crib and talk to her excitedly and this kid lights up. She smiles and tries to hide it with her hands, but she really can’t contain it (so much so she usually gets gassy!) I have been in love before, but this love is a very different, very insane love. Zara could cry, I could be rocking her wrong, changing her diaper when she clearly doesn’t want me to, but as soon as I calm her down, she just smiles and tries to talk to me like I am the coolest person she has ever met. Zara doesn’t care that I’m barely making it at school or that I haven’t showered in three days or that I lost my patience the day before. The greatest thing about babies is that they don’t care if you are poor, rich, black, white, straight, gay, skinny, thick, what have you – all babies want is for you to show up. They are beautiful in how non-judgmental, trusting, and loving they are of all types of people.

The past 4 months have been anything but easy, but there are so many people in my life who have helped me do the dang thing. My dreams are not crushed and my life is not over. If you are in a similar situation, feel free to call me if you need some talking off a cliff, because I needed/need it daily. I am already blown away by how much love Zara and I have gotten in her mere two months of life on planet Earth. Thank you to all for your support and encouragement, a few lighthearted jokes and words go such a long way.

 

What They Don’t Tell You About Growing Another Human

As I am typing this blog, I am going through the evolution of Zara via ultrasound pictures. I remember when I went in for the first one and was pretty unimpressed by the tiny dot she was, and now – she flexes for the camera: coolest kid around. I have said many times before that I never wanted kids because they are just tiny banshees destroying everything in their path, but I totally feel like a mom when I think to myself that maybe my kid will be the first non-banshee kid I meet (she won’t cry, scream in stores, write on my walls, etc.) Many women (and men) have told me about the joy the miracle of life brings you, and at times, I wonder how close to the present they mean when they tell me this, because there are many side effects that these people forgot to mention. I will warn you of these main side effects in case you ever plan on having kids and people tell you it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread without telling you that one day you won’t be able to reach your feet to put your shoes on.

  1. Hormones. Are. Fucking. Real. This is not made up. You will cry all the time and half the time you will not even know why. I have had a rough month, but one particularly bad day I am crying in my bed, texting a friend, Ally, who knows me so well. I am sitting there crying and texting and crying and I get really hungry. I stop crying and text her: “what should I eat for dinner?” (We sometimes do this because we have similar taste buds and we rarely have gotten this answer wrong when responding) She responds “pizza and wings” and I just start crying again because I know she is so damn right. It was beautiful. This is what you have to look forward to, a shit ton of crying.
  1. You pee all the time. What I don’t understand is that as a pregnant person you are required to drink more water because you have to hydrate a lot (there are many reasons for this, some more gross than others). Personally, I get really bad headaches if I don’t drink enough water. So, you have to drink all of this water, but something is pushing on your bladder. I pee maybe 4-5 times before I even fall asleep once I have gotten into bed. I don’t even tell my roommate goodnight anymore, because chances are, I am coming back out in 10 minutes.
  1. Big Boobs. People have said, “Oh, your boobs are so big now! I bet this is exactly what you have always dreamed about!” False. I did dream about having big boobs, but in those dreams I did not have back pain because they are so heavy, and also they fit perfectly in my bra; they did not ooze out of the sides of it.
  1. (Married people, ignore this one) Many of my friends have told me how lucky I am that I get to eat for two. This is true, I do get to eat more, but you know what I don’t have: a husband, let alone a significant other. When you are married and pregnant, your husband has to love you and feed you and reassure you that he will love you even if you get so big and round you can’t see your toes. Well, that is not the case for me. After this kid exits my body, I will have to enter back into the dating scene, so eating for two is not as freeing as it sounds.
  1. There are others that you get warned about like varicose veins, constipation, itchy skin, HORMONAL ACNE, insomnia, and many more!

Although it now might seem like a great idea not to reproduce, there is one side effect that has been something I never would have experienced or even thought was cool: baby kicks. When that kid kicks, it’s like we are on the same freaking page. Boring lecture? Zara kicks – I feel like it means, “I’m bored, let’s bounce!” Good food? I’m hoping that’s Zara reassuring me to continue to shovel donuts into my belly. Person says something you disagree with in the upcoming election? Zara knows what’s (not) good. It is the morning? Zara even kicks me to let me know she’s up and swimming around inside my potbelly.  It really is the coolest thing I would have probably never experienced, and I am not one to talk about kids being cool.

I am actually getting excited mainly because it’s no longer 90+ degrees outside so I am not THAT sweaty pregnant lady. I have a feeling Zara might end up being a billion times cooler than me, but I am 110% O.K. with that.

Nope, this is not another engagement post.

This summer has brought a huge life change for me; a change that has been difficult, emotional, scary, educational, and eye opening. At the beginning of this summer, I found out that I was pregnant.

When I found out about my pregnancy, I had a very hard decision to make that I spent a lot of time, energy, and emotions on in order to make the best decision for myself. The decision to continue or to end the pregnancy was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I am thankful, one, for my family and close friends who were extremely supportive towards whatever decision I was to make. This decision making process could have been A TON harder had it not been for people listening to my fears and desires for my future, and for that I am so grateful. I also am thankful that I live in a country that gives me the right to make that choice as well as provides me with (somewhat) equal ability and resources to make a decision that life changing. (Progress still is to be made!)

After I made the decision to continue my pregnancy, I was, and to be honest, some days still am, very ashamed of what my life looks and will look like. However, I understand that life as I have known it is no longer about just me, and I thought of what it would look like to look back and feel that my mom was ashamed of her decisions which resulted with me, and I feel that I can no longer live being dragged down by the shame of my past decisions. I wanted to post this because I no longer feel that it is something I should hide or feel guilty about. I have also come around to really be ready to love and care for this new alien.

I understand that I will be doing this parent life, which will include a lot of Kraft Mac-N-Cheese, popsicles, and guidance from Lorelai Gilmore (because that is all I know at the moment, kidding!), by myself as a college grad student living off a pretty non-existent income with a professional volleyball player sized savings (LOL), but I have the support of my family and friends, as well as the faith that my hard work and trust in this new life path will end up being a silver lining. I am totally scared most days and completely unaware of what the future holds for me and this new addition (plus bonus hormones!), but I know that I will do my best to raise the most bad ass and most loved kid out there (while finishing grad school and staying half sane… I might write a book).

I know this pregnancy was not a part of my plan that I had for this time in my life, but I have embraced this life change to make sure that this kid knows he/she never was and never will be unwanted. Although I have been doing this alone, because of my family and close friends – I have never really felt completely alone, and for that I am so indescribably grateful. All of the calls, texts, pregnant lady jokes, sending me pizza, and just being there to listen means so much. Also, thanks to my sister Taylor, who lives with me and is ALWAYS there (whether she wants to be or not ha!), and who doctors constantly confuse as my husband (not because of her looks but because of our shared last name). If you have any questions or want to know the truth of what happens to you after 4 months of being pregnant (like what a day without 3+ cups of coffee is like), please feel free to reach out!

Female Volleyball Players = Expert Wedgie Pickers

A few weeks ago, my roommate, an ice-hockey player, came to my game. The reaction she had to possibly her first volleyball game ever was: “You guys pick your wedgies a lot.” I really didn’t think about it before she had mentioned anything and then I realized, having to wear spandex all the time creates a lot of situations for picking wedgies (your spandex ride up, move around, etc.) I then thought about how routine picking a wedgie has gotten for me in all aspects of life, at any given location: formal or informal, which ultimately made me realize that maybe I should be more private about picking wedgies.

As I write this post, I am feeling like I may be giving you all too much of an inside look into my life, but so far my life has been volleyball and sleeping, so little details become very exciting for me.

The end of regular season is approaching, as we play our last match on Sunday before playoffs begin. It is crazy to me how far I have come from the beginning of the season. I have gotten close, really close, with some of my teammates as I have seen them twice a day almost every single day I have been here. So close that now we all notice even the tiniest, most minuscule changes in each other’s lives. For example, I got new sweatpants for myself for Valentine’s Day (not your basic huge sweats.. classy, sleek, and modern sweats). The first day I wore them, everyone said something about the new sweats. If someone dyes their hair or gets a trim, it really is noticeable. I, for some strange reason, always end up with one sock right-side-out and one sock inside-out. I am a lazy laundry lady, so I never really take the time to change all the socks to their right side, but my teammates have picked up on that. One day a few weeks ago, I must have had both socks inside out and it was like everyone and their mother noticed it. I didn’t even notice it, and that is saying something about how observant my teammates are. I can count on them to notice everything from a new pair of shorts to a new thong, and that is how close I have gotten with all of them.

Not much is new in my life, so I thought I would give you an inside scoop into some of the language barrier situations I face on a daily basis. First, I want to say my coach tries very, very hard to speak English, and I know he is not the most comfortable with the language. Sometimes he mixes things up and it gets confusing, but you learn to just nod your head and try to figure out what he means, sometimes after being yelled at multiple times, but you figure it out nonetheless. Maybe telling you won’t be as entertaining as it is in person, but a few situations stick out in my head. First – when my coach explains a drill that requires a complicated points system, for example, we will play a game where running certain plays get you more than 1 point, so you can work on those specific plays, but also scrimmage normally. I have never been so confused in my life during the explanation of these drills. My coach will start to explain (“one point for this, if this happens, you get 3 more chances to score, if you lose the other team gets two chances to score, etc.”) and we all look around after he explains to see if anyone knows what is going on, and we all have no clue. Second – the mix up between today and tomorrow. My coach tends to mix these two terms up, which makes it challenging to understand when certain events and practices are going to happen. (at morning practice, my coach could say practice tomorrow at 16.00 and that could/probably means practice today at 16.00)  Third – the mix up between yours and theirs. During video, my coach will tell us if the team we are going to play has gotten better or worse since we played them last. He will say things like “your level go very down” which means “the other team hasn’t gotten better since we last played them”, but it sounds like he is telling us we suck. We have figured it out as of late that the your means their level go very down. Fourth – and my all time favourite – my coach says LEX instead of LEGS, which can make me paranoid when I am not paying attention and I hear the word “lex.” A few months ago, the passers were doing a drill where your partner chunks a ball and you have to shuffle backwards, get your body around the ball, and pass it to the target. My coach was yelling “move your lexi’s” and it absolutely made my life.

Finally, I got sick for the first time and I have been surprisingly not soft about it. I figured this is the time I would get all homesick and yes, I really wanted my mom to bring me food to my bed, but without a caretaker, this means you can create your own sick people diet. Today, to make myself feel better I had loads of honey nut cheerios, honey-chili almonds, tiramisu covered almonds, dried coconut, chocolate covered almonds, toffee, 3 loaves of rye bread, carrot soup, and a lot of ibuprofen. I do believe I am the best caretaker I have.

More life updates to come after playoffs begin. Until next time!

Mental Marijuana

I am not a normal player. The thought of game day, most times, does not make me feel hype, I usually feel my stomach in my throat and also get this weird paralyzation action where my mind is so spazzed out I move at the speed of an average-paced turtle. After not playing in actual games since my collegiate season ended in December 2013, I forgot how nervous I got. This season I have really struggled with performing my best in games, but I have started to find some great solutions to this problem.

If I listen to loud, screamy music and if I scream and yell during warmups, I get way too jumpy and spazzy for the game. At Michigan, we read this leadership book and this chapter was about finding your “number.” All of the yelling and getting hype stuff makes my number skyrocket to a 10. It is funny to me, because I can totally feel it. Every play seems so much harder and I somehow get the lung capacity of an infant, taking the shortest breaths of all time. I need mental marijuana before I play. I don’t actually smoke (that would make things really difficult), but for me, to find my appropriate “number,” I need to get to a complete state of relaxation. I need to sing songs, slow, relaxing songs in my head while I am standing waiting for the other team to serve. I need to basically numb my mind, or else it will think way too much about every tiny thing. My point of this whole randomness, is I have finally found my mental marijuana, relaxing state in games (only 7 months out! LOL). In all seriousness though, my practices and games are starting to look very similar, which is just groovy.

The past months and the next months, my life will be pretty much only volleyball. So, if this bores you, I am sorry, I don’t have any good travelling or foodie stories.

Here in Finland, I have had a lot a lot a lot of alone time. I have realized things about myself that I might not have discovered had I been in the states with all of my friends. First: I did not realize how much FOMO I have (FOMO: fear of missing out). In college, I had a FOMO for sure, but the thing is, in college if someone says, “oh you missed out on so much last night,” you can always go out the next night or weekend and have so much fun it didn’t matter how much you missed out on the weekend before. In Finland, I get to see all of these great parties and events back in the States, and now, instead of making up for missing out the next weekend, I tell myself that soon, in 150, 85, 68 short days, I can make up for it. Second: I really love the grocery store. I don’t know why, but I don’t feel like my day is complete without going to the grocery store. I am laughing at myself and maybe I am in such a small town that the grocery store is a banger of a time for me, but I love going. Third: When I get excited about something, I drop everything and have an excitement panic attack. For example, I had this idea that my christmas present to my dad should be a brewery tour in Houston. I spent all afternoon researching the best ones and texted him a ton of times to see if he would want to go with me, etc. I also get little spurts of excitement looking for jobs. If I get excited enough, I spend all day researching jobs and e-mailing companies. On the other hand, If I ignore the excitement, I get tons of butterflies. This has been particularly hard, because when I get back to the states, the first thing I will be going to is a college reunion-ish thing, and when I get excited about it, I get so much energy before bed. It makes sleeping hard.

We just played a game yesterday against the 3rd place team in the league and won in 5. I discovered I am kind of a bad-ass, but it is all 100 percent internal. So, there are a few girls on this other team that appear to be very cocky. Cocky in volleyball is like yelling through the net at the other team when you get a point or laughing at the other team when they lose a point. I am aware that many athletes, athletes of all sports, are cocky and this helps them have the confidence they need to perform, but if you are cocky, chances are I hate playing against you. I am my hardest critic and never feel satisfied about my play, so seeing people who act like they are all that and a bag of chips really pisses me off. I know this is wrong, but it’s me. Anyways, these girls are just straight up yelling through the net and in my mind, I’m thinking I appear to be giving off the vibe of “yeah bitch, you wanna yell through the net? Check the score and how many points you have actually scored in this game.” In my head, I think I look like this tough, hard ass, but what I actually look like is this calm, smiley, gentle player. My coach is teaching me some bad-ass italian hand signals that I can start to use in the game to improve the gentle giant exterior.

We have one more month left of regular season, and are doing really well. We are currently in second, which is awesome. I am learning more and more italian hand gestures each day. I also am learning a lot of Finnish words, but only ones that start with a P. I learned the word “butterfly” in Finnish because we do a drill called butterfly almost every other day, and it is “perhonen.” My teammates name is Piia Kerhonen, so naturally I started calling her Piia Perhonen. Then, my other teammates started giving me new P words to add to her name, so that’s the logic behind my Finnish vocabulary.

I will be watching the Super Bowl next weekend with my roommate who is the biggest Patriots fan of all time. She loves Tom Brady, so she secretly goes blue even though she went to BC. Have a great week all!