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Ketchup. Catch-up. Catsup.

Before I get to the real point of this post, as I was writing the title, I was thinking I would write it as “Catch-up and Ketchup,” for really no reason at all except that the words sound the same. But it reminded me of when I was a little girl, I would always read my mom’s grocery lists and smile at all of her abbreviations for the things she bought all the time. One that always stuck out to me was “catsup.” And I would giggle to my all-knowing 10-year old self that my teacher-mother didn’t know how to spell ketchup.

But, little did I know, it’s actually how you spell it! http://www.diffen.com/difference/Catsup_vs_Ketchup

Learn something new every day.

ANYWAY

I wanted to catch everyone up on a few of my latest blog posts over at Woman’s Hospital. I’ve been steadily writing [and reading] along with other mothers in Baton Rouge about all the joys, highs, lows, messes of motherhood.

Milestones
Looking ahead to all the new things and new worlds opening up to Audrey.

First Time For Everything
How we made it through the first sickness + Tylenol love.

Surviving. How Do You Do It?
Is there a secret manual somewhere?

To A New Year
My wishes for a new year.

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The War Inside

I have always been very hard on myself. Always pushing to be perfect and the best.

This is evidenced by the “races” I used to have in 1st grade with another boy on tests and homework to see who could finish faster and get an A.

Also evidenced in the manic way I would amass stickers on my 4th grade behavior chart marking how “good” I was that day, usually feeling absolutely devastated if I did not fill my 5×5 grid of empty boxes, each box somehow symbolizing a square inch of self worth.

Seen also in the student council, class president, club president, sorority officer, alumnae officer positions I take on, run for or volunteer for to somehow stay involved, stay connected, stay on top of things to be in the know, to be with those who know and just to know.

Or shown in how I will speed clean my house the second I hear someone is coming over so they will see a spotless house, complete with a fresh scent of faked cleanliness, and think I keep it that way all the time. Yeah right. Right now, my kitchen has two empty pizza boxes, a can of Pringles and expired chocolate milk in the fridge, a pile of Audrey’s spit up caked on the floor and the couch smells like Sadie pooped INSIDE this couch, not on it, IN IT).

It’s always been there. I just know this about myself. And thank you Jesus that you brought Jason into my life who every day reminds me to JUST RELAX.

But never in my life did I foresee the levels this personality would push me to once having a baby. Every single decision, outfit choice, thought, action, etc. is amplified by my insatiable need to be perfect.

The latest “war” is breastfeeding and formula. I have breastfed Audrey until now (5 months) but have slowly been unable to make enough bottles to send with her the next day, depleting my freezer supply and teetering on the edge of needing to supplement for some time now.

Well, a week or so ago was the tipping point. I didn’t have enough to send the next day (unless I pumped during the night and again the next morning and used my last 3 oz from the freezer), and she hasn’t been sleeping, so I devised a plan to give her a bottle with half breast milk and half formula to introduce it, hope it helped her sleep and to throw this monkey off my back. The evil, demon monkey of mommy guilt telling me I’m ruining the “pureness” of this child by giving her something foreign. How dumb is that? My baby is still perfect after a bottle of formula, she took it like a champ, never knew the difference (still didn’t sleep), but is no worse for the wear and you would think I laced her bottle with arsenic because of the amount of thought I put into this decision.

If I agonize this much over every decision as a mother, Lord help me. What’s healthiest for Audrey right now is sleep. She needs more and I need to do what I can to get her there, which I believe is feeding more during the day. What is also healthiest for this family is sleep and a rejuvenated Mama. I’m learning this all a give and take. If I take from here, something has to give over there. And I’ll tell you, the day after this happened and I didn’t have to fret over getting up before the chickens to pump, I was OVER IT.

But why do we beat ourselves up so much? If it’s not formula, it will be pre-packaged baby food, and then preschool, and then giving them fast food, and then private vs. public school, and then, and then, and then.

What I want MOST in the world is that Audrey is healthy, happy and learns to love Jesus. That’s it. I want time with my husband. I want more babies. And I want my sanity. And I’ve got to learn to LET IT GO. My sage (aka sister) gave me the best verse for this:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever thingsare of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

OR in crazy, sleep deprived Mama terms: GET OFF FACEBOOK AND THE INTERNET AND STOP READING WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING OR DOING AND JUST DO YOU. Do you. Do me. Do Stephanie. Be a Roussell (and an Ortego) and go with your gut. Do what I feel is right, focus on what is good in my life, what I feel is healthy for our family as a whole and move on. The decision I made a few nights ago will not define Audrey’s life, nor mine. It will be a blip on the radar of life, and every decision I will make with heart and faith, but remind myself that not every decision that winds me away from what “I thought should happen” is not failure, it’s life.

Can you tell I needed a pep talk? 🙂 And I’m always happy to talk to myself!

In other news, here is Audrey’s new look of trepidation during “rice cereal” time. I mean, she’s gotta be the cutest baby you ever did see, right??audrey rice cereal


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A Valentine’s Day Letter

dear little one,

It’s Valentine’s Day and my heart is bigger than it has ever been before. I woke up this morning to a warm house, sleeping baby and handsome husband, all while it was still dark outside. Earlier in the week, I rocked with you in that same house and listened to the hard rain and thought how wonderful everything was now that you’re here. How can I be so lucky? I thank God every day for you, for your Daddy and for our life. I breathe thankfulness in every moment knowing how special this time is for us right now.

Happy Valentine’s Day Audrey! I hope every year on this day (and every day for that matter) you wake up to a warm hug and kiss from your Mama and Daddy, confidence in our love for you and an eagerness to love the world around you. This morning you woke up with snot dried on your nose, but nonetheless you woke up smiling! And I hope you wake up smiling every day.

You are almost six months old and I can barely believe it! You’ve been sick the last few days, but still love your Sophie the Giraffe, mirrors and anything that resembles paper. Each day as we leave school, you grab your information sheet like it’s your job and hold it tightly until Mama takes it away for fear you will give yourself a paper cut.

You also had food for the first time last night! The doctor told us to fatten you up because you aren’t gaining like you should and so a whole new world has opened to you little one. I can’t wait to teach you how to eat, love food and enjoy suppertime every night like I did growing up. We’re even teaching you how to say a blessing before you eat (even if you stare blankly at us as we hold your hands in your Bumbo chair)!

Today is a special day designated for love. Love is big and strong, and hard and prickly sometimes. But I hope I can show you how to love God, love others and love yourself. I hope you always look forward to this day because you have someone special in your life to say I love you to on this day, and every day forever.

I love you so big, deep and wide.

love,
your mama


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Torture

My new form of absolute torture is finding songs about children and listening them on repeat.

And this one, like I can’t even. Can’t. Do. It. Must. Stop.

So beautiful and so gut wrenching right now as I struggle each night to leave Audrey in her room, willing her to sleep, but secretly wishing she stays awake so I can be with her a few minutes longer.

Oh please Jesus, I pray that those “armies of angels” surround Audrey every moment that I’m not with her.


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….but then…

Today was hard….BUT THEN….

Today was hard…she’s not sleeping well. She has never slept through the night, but had been doing so well and only waking up once. But the last few nights, she’s a newborn all over again. Fussing every few hours, round the clock feedings, and unknown distresses in her small body. I wake, in a sleepy stupor, and somehow find her and give her what she needs or wants and find my way back to the warm bed, only to wake up an hour later to start the day again.

…but then I write this blog post at Woman’s Hospital about how she loves to be on her tummy, even when she’s sleeping, and I’m reminded how much I love watching her sleep. And I’m reminded that even the four to five hours she sleeps is wonderful, and when she starts to sleep longer, I will probably miss our quiet time in the night.

Today was hard…it’s Christmas time and I’m running around like a headless chicken. And all I want to do is sit in my new house, with my Christmas tree lit up as the only lights in the house and lay with Audrey and Jason and admire the twinkling, read Audrey her very first Christmas story and watch the fire logs burn down until there’s nothing but ash. But rather, I’m shopping every night after work, feeding Audrey in the car on the run and rubbing blisters on my feet. I love the hustle and bustle of the season, but with a three-month old in tow, it takes on a whole new meaning. And even as I look for presents to buy for her (those she will never know she received), I question my own sanity.

…but then I spend my weekend with family and take her to see Santa, and sit by the big tree staring at the lights, and sing Christmas carols in my home church and sway with her singing Silent Night, and I feel whole again. And we open those presents that others having lovingly gifted to her and she starts grabbing at the paper, showing us how much she is growing and I feel Christmas in my heart again.

Today was hard…being a working mom is hard. I’m exhausted. The full days, the long nights. The pumping. The every three hours is wearing me down, making me want to wean her off breastfeeding and throw my hands in the air in surrender. I can’t do this. I can’t do it all. I need someone else to be doing what I do every three hours. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed every time I wash the breast pump bottles in my office sink, with my colleagues coming in and out, peeking but not saying out of respect, which I appreciate. Life on a three hour rotation is hard. And washing bottles every night just sucks.

…but then I talk with my other new mama girlfriends and spill my guts, we have a pity party, and then we all pick ourselves up again and start a new day. And I remember how little time in the grand scheme of her life breastfeeding will take up, and I’m energized to keep going (and the easy calorie burning isn’t so bad either!).

Today was hard…I ate fried chicken last night, definitely not on the approved postpartum diet. And the night before I ate fajitas. And the night before I ate spaghetti. And the night before I ate Taco Bell. And the night before that Wendy’s. It’s only from running out of time. I can’t get to the grocery store, I can’t/don’t have time to cook. I haven’t packed Jason a lunch since I went back to work, meaning he eats all the same junk as me. It’s not far, it’s not fun and it’s not healthy. But after all that goes on in one day, how am I supposed to get dinner on the table too? Seriously!?

…but then I talk to my Mama and she reassures me that IT IS OK and that I need not worry about these things and focus on my little one and on Jason. And I somehow scrape together a delicious chili for a supper club with friends, and we sit and talk and enjoy the warm food just like we’ve done for the past 10 years, now we just have little ones running around. And I remember how grateful and blessed I am to even have this problem of too much food, and I renew my promise to meal plan and shop so I won’t have these panicked no-dinner nights again.

Today was hard…it’s only 9:15 am and I’ve already been to the bathroom to cry it out once. I know it gets easier, I know it gets better. But right now, it feels endless, and it feels raw and I feel guilty. Because it’s not sweet Audrey’s fault. Without me and Jason, she wouldn’t survive. How can I feel stressed while taking care of something we were so very blessed with and love with our every ounce of our bodies? She is smiling and squealing and makes all the stress amazingly worth it. But in the middle of it right now, it feels dark and I feel not enough.

but then I receive e-mails and comments and phone calls from my little tribe of friends and family assuring me that I am enough, that I am OK, and that it will get easier. And I remember that I love Audrey so, and she deserves every ounce of everything I have, no matter the cost. And I talk to my sister who again talks me back from the ledge and tells me to go take a nap because that’s probably my biggest problem (and she was right!). And I have a sister in law who babysits while we go to a Christmas party, and me and Jason really look at each other for the first time this week, take a deep breath  reconnect again with laughter and smiles and come home to our sleeping baby, with all the lights off except for the Christmas tree and I thank God for meltdowns, because they give us opportunities to look up, get up and go again.

Today was just hard.

…but then it got better…


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Today Was Hard

Today was hard…she’s not sleeping well. She has never slept through the night, but had been doing so well and only waking up once. But the last few nights, she’s a newborn all over again. Fussing every few hours, round the clock feedings, and unknown distresses in her small body. I wake, in a sleepy stupor, and somehow find her and give her what she needs or wants and find my way back to the warm bed, only to wake up an hour later to start the day again.

Today was hard…it’s Christmas time and I’m running around like a headless chicken. And all I want to do is sit in my new house, with my Christmas tree lit up as the only lights in the house and lay with Audrey and Jason and admire the twinkling, read Audrey her very first Christmas story and watch the fire logs burn down until there’s nothing but ash. But rather, I’m shopping every night after work, feeding Audrey in the car on the run and rubbing blisters on my feet. I love the hustle and bustle of the season, but with a three-month old in tow, it takes on a whole new meaning. And even as I look for presents to buy for her (those she will never know she received), I question my own sanity.

Today was hard…being a working mom is hard. I’m exhausted. The full days, the long nights. The pumping. The every three hours is wearing me down, making me want to wean her off breastfeeding and throw my hands in the air in surrender. I can’t do this. I can’t do it all. I need someone else to be doing what I do every three hours. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed every time I wash the breast pump bottles in my office sink, with my colleagues coming in and out, peeking but not saying out of respect, which I appreciate. Life on a three hour rotation is hard. And washing bottles every night just sucks.

Today was hard…I ate fried chicken last night, definitely not on the approved postpartum diet. And the night before I ate fajitas. And the night before I ate spaghetti. And the night before I ate Taco Bell. And the night before that Wendy’s. It’s only from running out of time. I can’t get to the grocery store, I can’t/don’t have time to cook. I haven’t packed Jason a lunch since I went back to work, meaning he eats all the same junk as me. It’s not far, it’s not fun and it’s not healthy. But after all that goes on in one day, how am I supposed to get dinner on the table too? Seriously!?

Today was hard…it’s only 9:15 am and I’ve already been to the bathroom to cry it out once. I know it gets easier, I know it gets better. But right now, it feels endless, and it feels raw and I feel guilty. Because it’s not sweet Audrey’s fault. Without me and Jason, she wouldn’t survive. How can I feel stressed while taking care of something we were so very blessed with and love with our every ounce of our bodies? She is smiling and squealing and makes all the stress amazingly worth it. But in the middle of it right now, it feels dark and I feel not enough.

Today was just hard.


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First Week Back Crazies

So a week or so ago I wrote a loving, flowy post about my pregnancy and maternity leave and how wonderful the long, lazy days with Audrey were and how my new adventure as a working mother was about to begin, and everybody please send me warm and fuzzies about starting because I’m going to need it….

…well here I am on the other side, and LORD HELP ME.

tummy time

Audrey says “be cool, Mom, I got this”

This job is hard, ya’ll! My mornings start about 3 hours earlier than is normally human, only a few hours after Audrey decides she wants a 3 a.m. snack and Sadie jumps in my spot in the bed because it’s way warmer than the freezing cold house this Mama won’t heat at night because she’s too paranoid about carbon monoxide poisoning.

High heels and baby carriers do not mix. My poor feet haven’t worn heels in about 6 months and my calves hate me, along with my toes. My neck is permanently “cricked” from falling asleep in the rocker at 3 a.m. and my poor house is so dirty I’m afraid TLC will try to come film an episode of Hoarders.

smiling audrey

Audrey thinks my pain is funny

But, after ten WHOLE DAYS of being a working mom, it has also brought me good things. Like using my smart brain again, the joy of picking her up from the nursery every afternoon and my weekly sushi fix. I miss her during the day, but the days go fast and I’m right back with her before I know it. Plus I get to wear cute clothes again.

baby selfie

Baby’s first selfie at the doctor’s office

So here’s to all you working moms out there! I’ve had good role models, both my grandmothers and my own mother and mother-in-law have provided a pretty good model for how to be a Southern lady, while working and raising babies. I hope I can only continue the tradition!