D-I-V-I-N-E

This morning I heard the best description of what it feels like to become a parent.  Surprisingly, the description came from someone who has never had a child.

I filled in on morning show today for the first time since before I gave birth to Harper.  As I was getting ready to walk out into the studio, our producer Marisa came up and told me good morning and asked me how I liked being a mom.  I immediately lit up and told her how much I loved it.  “I don’t mean to sound cheesy,” I said, “but, being a parent automatically softens your heart and makes you look at EVERYTHING completely different than you did before.”  I continued to go on and on about motherhood and how precious and special it was.  That’s when the most genius words came out of Marisa’s mouth: “Wow, it sounds like a whole ‘nother experience – like something divine.”

Boom!  She nailed it right on the head!  Being a parent IS divine.  It’s sort of like a religious experience!  I have tried to find the one, right word that could sum up exactly how I have felt over the past 15 weeks… but here, in just a 5 minute conversation, Marisa got it. D-I-V-I-N-E!

For me, there are a million reasons why my parenting journey has been divine.  Other than the delicious love I get to experience for and from my sweet daughter, I also find myself wanting to improve as a person.  I want to be just about every “-ER” I can be:  kinder, gentler, stronger, smarter, braver… the list goes on and on and on and on.  I find myself being called to really work on being a better individual.  I am drawn to philanthropic opportunities… I am trying to be more involved in church… and I am trying to set a good example to others (improve attitude, watch my tone, be less negative, etc), and I am trying to keep my household as happy as it can possibly be.

All of those are a work in progress… but one thing I know for certain I have improved upon – is letting stuff go.  Before baby came, I was high-strung, uptight, and tended to be a perfectionist who had to have control.  Since Harper has come into my life… I just don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.  I can’t – because at the end of the day, there will always be something MORE important than whatever was causing me a headache.:

Oh – I got a flat tire on my way to work! No worries, because Harper will be home when I get there.
Shoot – I washed my husband’s I-POD in the washer!  Oh well, I get to take Harper to the park later.
Dang it!!! I broke a dish in the kitchen sink.  No big thing – time to give Harper her bath.

No MATTER WHAT is causing drama or annoyances in my day, I will ALWAYS have sweet baby girl… period.  And to be honest with you – it is such a HUGE relief to just let those little, unimportant issues go.  It’s forced me to leave work at work, and keep my family time sacred.  It’s forced me to turn over my stresses to God.  It’s forced me to focus on what I have in my life NOW, rather than worrying too much about tomorrow.  What a huge blessing, right?

So, I have come to the conclusion (thanks to Marisa!) that motherhood is divine.  Baby Harper is divine.  Experiencing motherhood WITH baby Harper is divine.

Working Mom Guilt

You’re never fully prepared for all the emotions you feel after having a child.  When people talk about the hormones – whoa buddy – they are not kidding.  Fourteen weeks after giving birth, I still have an emotional reaction to just about everything relating to my baby girl.  I am certain a lot of it is hormones from the actual pregnancy and such, but I also think a lot of it is from becoming a mother.  If you’re a parent, I am sure you would agree that your heart immediately softens the second your child is born.  That has definitely been the case for me.

In most instances, I relish in the emotions I feel.  I stop and think:
“Wow, I am a mother!”
“Oh, my daughter is so wonderful!”
“Jee whiz, I am so blessed!”

No matter how bad my day is, I always remind myself that I have sweet baby Harper, so everything else is small potatoes.  I don’t sweat the small stuff.

But, the emotion I was never warned about as a working mother, was “Working Mommy Guilt.”  Oh yes, people… it’s real! 

Before I even became pregnant with Harper, I knew I would be a working mother.  I am beyond thankful for… and blessed by a husband who works so hard.  Because of him, if I wanted to, I could be a stay at home mother.  However, I love my job (on most days – *wink*) and have always seen myself as someone who would continue to have a career after having a child. 

Fast forward to the first 8 weeks of my child’s life. No way!!!  I was NOT going back to work… no way in the world could I leave baby girl with ANYONE who wasn’t me.  No way, no way… NO WAY!  Every single day, during that 8 weeks, I dreaded my return to work.  I felt like such a horrible person for making plans to leave my baby with a stranger… especially, because working was a CHOICE I was making, not something I was being FORCED to do.

Coming back to work was hard.  Really hard.  The hardest.  During that first week, I made ways to arrange my interviews for stories around some of Harper’s feedings, so I could stop by her daycare and visit her.  I stopped by her daycare every single day that week.  Thank goodness the teachers at her daycare are so understanding…

By the second week, things were a bit easier… I limited my visits to daycare to just once a week.  I was, however, rushing home as soon as I possibly could.  The second my stories aired during the 6PM newscast, I bolted out to my car and sped home to see my baby and husband.

By week three… I continued with the daycare visits and rushing home after work… but I started to become more equipped to handle the idea that Harper was being taken care of someone who wasn’t myself or her daddy.  Then, I started to realized how much I enjoyed my job… all the aspects of it.  I like getting to dress up, wear makeup, style my hair – and having a reason to do it every day.  When I was home with Harper, there were days I had no time to even shower (I will admit – one morning, I didn’t even brush my teeth!).   Staying home with Harper, I was so consumed and wrapped up in taking care of her, I didn’t take care of myself.  Now that I was back at work, I was making time to take care of myself… and enjoying my time at work. 

As crazy as it sounds, I also enjoyed “missing” my girl.  Every day, I found myself thinking about her constantly and how I couldn’t wait to get home so I could love on her.  It was the light at the end of my busy tunnel every day!  Certainly, while I was home with her during my maternity leave, I enjoyed every second with her.  But, this was different because I knew not to take a second with her for granted, because there was an 8 hour gap in the middle of our day, where we didn’t get to see one another.

However, in the midst of enjoying being back to work… I still found myself surrounded by guilt.  Fourteen weeks later, I STILL find myself feeling guilt.  I hate that I am not with Harper every single second of every single day… to listen to her coo and giggle and do all the sweet things she does.  I also feel guilty for leaving her to be taken care of by someone who isn’t her parent.  It’s a really tough balance.

I do know, though, that the guilt will probably never go away, so it’s something I just need to learn to deal with.  I have now been back to work for 6 weeks and I have learned to make some adjustments so that my life isn’t consumed with work, like it was before Harper was born.

Every day, I *make* myself take a lunch at home (not necessarily to eat, but because I have to pump at least one time during the day).  While I am home for lunch, I try to clean up or do any little chores I might have, so that I don’t have to do them when I am home at night with Harper.  I want to be able to focus my time on her, not housework.  I also continue to visit Harper at least once a week (Thursdays) while she is in daycare.  I shoot our “Food for Thought” segment on Thursdays, and because the story runs during the 10PM newscast, I don’t have to report in the 4, 5 or 6PM shows… so I make it a point to take a lunch break during her Thursday afternoon feedings. 

As I battle this mommy guilt – I do take comfort in knowing that being a working mother is the best option for ME!  I give a ton of credit to mommies who stay home with their babies.  I know that it is a full time job, too.  However, for me and my situation, being a working professional makes me a better mother.  I take better care of myself and that makes me take better care of my baby.  My sweet Harper is still the center of my world, though.  Right now, I may be Abby Reed, the news reporter for KCBD NewsChannel 11… but at the end of every single day, I am ALWAYS Abby Reed, the mommy of Harper.

Bumbo-ver protective?

If you’re like every other infant mommy in the world, chances are – you have a Bumbo chair.  The chairs have been around quite awhile, so I was surprised to find out this morning, that the chairs are being recalled for safety reasons: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48668317/ns/health-childrens_health/

Of course, as a new mom, seeing the word RECALL is enough to make me run the Bumbo chair out into my backyard, douse it in gasoline, set it on fire, and put the flames out with Holy water.  Well, maybe not the Holy water part…. but, yeah… it’s scary to me.

When I was pregnant with Harper, all of my mommy friends told me the Bumbo was something we definitely needed to get.  If you don’t know much about the Bumbo – it’s basically a little chair that envelopes a baby around their back and hips so they can sit up.

Harper loves her Bumbo – we started putting her in it about a month ago.  She loves the independence of sitting up “on her own.” She especially loves her Bumbo, when we have baseball on the television (something about the rich, green field that captures her attention every time).  She loves any reason that allows her to sit up, and I love that the Bumbo gives us the chance to be hands-free and interact with her more.

I was relieved to see that the Bumbo chair wasn’t being recalled into banishment forever.  All that we have to do is order the safety belt that is supposed to keep baby in place, and keep her from falling over.   In the meantime, I will probably stick the chair in Harper’s closet.  I know she could still probably use it, as long as we supervise and use it the way it’s supposed to be used (which we always do!) but I am just not willing to take the chance.

Call me overprotective… call me a worrier… call me a crazy-pants (well, okay… please don’t call me a crazy-pants… that’s just mean).  But, when it comes to my little bebe, I just won’t take chances, no matter how big or small.  Sure, the chances of my little miss getting hurt in her Bumbo are small – but I guess, if a company is offering up a voluntary recall, they must believe they have some liability for any possible danger that might occur as a result of their product.  So, I figure, me taking their warning seriously isn’t being overprotective – it’s me being responsible.

That brings me to the topic of being an overprotective parent.  Is there such a thing?  I am sure there is.  Will I be one?  Sigh.  Yeah, probably so.

I would rather ride the side of caution, than crash on the side of danger.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t plan to wrap Harper up in a helmet and bubble wrap whenever she leaves the house (although, if she inherits her mommy’s clumsy gene, that might not be a bad idea….).  I do realize, however, that it is probably good for Harper’s character, to let her experience some yucky things in life… disappointments, etc.  But, I also know, as her mommy, it is up to me to protect her from whatever I possibly can.  Today, maybe it’s the circle of death (aka Bumbo) but tomorrow it could be something much more substantial.

What’s my point?  My point is, I am the first to admit what a type A person I am… okay, and how uptight I tend to be… but, I do so with the best of intentions.  I don’t have this mother thing perfected (thank goodness, because what a boring journey it would be!), but I do have the best intentions.  And as long as my intentions keep baby Harper healthy, safe and happy – what more could I ask for?

What’s the point?

Being a new mommy is – by far – the funnest thing I have ever encountered.  I get to experience new things with my daughter every, single day.  Over the past 12 weeks, we’ve enjoyed seeing her smile for the first time… giggling out loud… and responding to tickles.

Being a new mommy is also the toughest thing I have ever had to do.  In the past 12 weeks, I have gone toe to toe with the nastiest bout of colic you can imagine… comforted baby when she got her 2 month shots… and left her in daycare so I can go back to work.

I’ll be honest… this whole parent thing threw me for a loop.  I enjoy kids and babies – but never knew much about them.  Since the day I found out I was pregnant, Google has become my best friend (well, and my sister-in-law Adrienne… she probably received 2,398 text messages from me in the first 3 months of my pregnancy).  If there’s something I don’t know… there are 500 billion mommies across the world who do and post their thoughts on the Internet.

Even in my search for infinite mommy knowledge… I wasn’t always satisfied with the answers (or lack thereof). I have also discovered our mommy/baby situation is quite unique, compared with most.

For example:

My baby exclusively drinks breastmilk, but I do not breastfeed her. Instead, I pump several times a day (I have even pumped in the backseat of a news vehicle while out on a story!). There are several reasons why I only pump, but you should hear some of the unsupportive comments I have encountered from other mothers. Apparently, I am not bonding with my child properly (newsflash: I gave birth to this girl, I carried her for 9 months… we’re pretty well bonded). There are very few resources for mothers who only pump… in fact, I have found none online.

My baby has colic AND acid reflux.  That has been an ordeal, let me tell you.  We have finally found a combination that works for us… but it wasn’t easy (my blog tomorrow will go into detail).

I am obviously a working mother… but not your “typical” working mother.  As a news reporter, I have to report on some pretty awful things (murders, house fires, industrial accidents, shootings, child abuse, etc). If I thought those things were difficult before… WHOA! They have become much harder to cover now that I have a child.  Also, let’s talk about the pressure I had to lose my baby weight before returning to work, because I am on television.  Jee whiz…

I am not naive – I know all mommies have different battles every day.  Mine aren’t anything special.  But, maybe they’re worth blogging about?

I don’t like cheese.

My sweet girl is named Harper Kate.  Today she is 12 weeks old.

She is the absolute joy of my life. She has softened my heart and ignited a feeling I never knew existed.  Cheesy? Yes. And if you know me, you know I don’t like cheese.

When I first learned I was pregnant back in late September, everyone warned me: “Abby, you will never know love like the love you have for a child.”  “Oh, Abby – you will never understand until the baby is born.”  At first, comments like that were sweet… then the more I heard them, they became annoying.  Of course I know I will love my child – jee whiz, people!  Don’t tell me how I will love my baby – I am carrying her in my belly, of course I understand.

Wrong.

I didn’t understand.  When I was pregnant, I certainly felt a special love and connection to my baby.  It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life.  So, that’s what having a child would be like, right?  I already knew the love.

Wrong.

When baby Harper came into our lives on May 15th… well, there are just no words to describe the love I felt.  I have told everyone, “Calling it ‘love’ just seems to dumb it down.  It’s way more than love.”

Correct.

It IS way more than love.  Having a child, becoming a mother, and (more than) loving this little person has completely changed my heart.  My life is so very different from how it was before she came.  But, my heart… oh man, my heart is so different.  It’s so much bigger… which is confusing, because I feel like all of my heart belongs to her.  But it’s also much more open and able to love other people, things, situations.  It’s impossible to explain or describe.

In addition to being Harper’s mommy (which I consider to be my most important, precious duty) I am also wife to Tyler.  We have been married for almost 6 years and met in college.  He’s a good guy – the kind who’s everyone’s friend.  He loves the Denver Broncos… and by way of marriage, I too, love the Denver Broncos.  We’re a match made in Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

I am also a journalist.  I am a news reporter for KCBD NewsChannel 11, the NBC station in Lubbock.  I have been with KCBD for more than a year now… and the truth is, I will stay here until they kick me out (Dear News Director, please don’t kick me out!).  I grew up watching Karin and Abner, and still get nervous when Abner walks into the newsroom (not because he is mean, but because he is ABNER!  Karin, by the way, is the sweetest person you will ever meet!).

My duties as mommy, wife, and full-time journalist keep me extremely busy – but always so very thankful for the life I lead.  I have the best job in the world, with the best people in the world… I am married to the best man on the planet… and I am mommy to the most precious little girl, ever!

Cheesy? Yes. And if you know me, you know I don’t like cheese.

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