The Hart Home│Revisiting My Crazy Doctoral Journey

A couple days ago, my mentor had informed me that my doctoral dissertation had received school approval and following a few brief formatting edits would be ready to be sent in for publication review. This is a giant step towards completing my doctorate and for some, I have entered the part of this journey where I just have paperwork and a conference call left before my dissertation is completed and I graduate with my PhD.

doctoral regalia
My doctoral regalia. It’s a long cry from the one I wore at Rutgers University commencement and also the slightly cooler than Rutgers one I had for my master’s from SNHU.

I thought the timing was rather funny because a couple of months ago, I was contacted by an editor at editage.com, a blogging website that shares personal stories of academics and doctoral candidates about their work, life and the craziness of going through this process about having some of my blogs from here republished on their site. They were mostly ones about being pregnant and writing and then being Logan’s mom and still having to write.

https://www.editage.com/insights/the-best-week-of-my-life

This one was one of my favorites because it reminded me of when we thought we were going to do this whole gender reveal party, but Logan just wanted us to know right then and there that he was a boy.

https://www.editage.com/insights/how-does-she-do-it-all

Then there was this one where I shared what it’s really like to be working full-time, adjuncting AND writing a doctoral dissertation while being a mom to a new baby. I teared up re-reading this one because it reminded me of how hard this journey has been and how much of me it took, but I still think it was worth it because I kept my dream going even into motherhood and I am setting a good example for my son and future children.

https://www.editage.com/insights/life-gave-me-a-big-surprise-on-the-cusp-of-me-becoming-a-doctor

And then, the time where I found out that I was pregnant and a newlywed AND set to begin doctoral comps just as I was hitting the “pretty pregnant” stage.

I wouldn’t change any of it. I am so proud of where I have come and where I will go from here and my heart just bursts at the idea that I have this beautiful family that I get to be with as I do it all. I am so thankful where my life has taken me and I am so grateful for my husband and our little prince who’s already walking and screaming MOM whenever he wants me. It’s just the best.

 

The Hart Home│Are you fearful of another pregnancy?

My husband and I do not hide the fact that if God allows it, we would like to have four kids. I would like two of each because I think the idea of everyone having a brother and a sister. However, I really don’t care either way as long as I get one of each in this mix.

I was very blessed to conceive our son easily. I had been convinced that it would take us a while and that I would probably have fertility issues. After we visited our doctor, we were told to go home and try for a year before they intervened. I immediately hit the books and from there ordered my pre-natal vitamins and ovulation kits and downloaded a log to keep track of my cycles. I was determined. I also followed every forum and app on TTC I could find and read daily how and when in cycles women were actually conceiving.

meandlogan
One of our first pictures together. August 2018.

I was a bit obsessed, but deep within myself, I had always wanted to be a mother. However, I have also always been very career and academically driven and for years that was my sole focus. I laugh at myself now for thinking that I would go back to work a month after having delivered our son. I also laugh at a conversation that I had with my husband when we first started dating. I flat out told him that I would never give up my career or my dreams for any man nor would I move for one. Which is funny because, in the end, I moved for my husband so that he could finish school and now, I am constantly applying to jobs that I can do closer to home or even remotely so that I can be home with our son. My husband constantly likes to remind me about that conversation and how it’s so funny that this little man entered my life and I am just wrapped around his finger. And it’s true, Logan is the boss of my life now and if it doesn’t benefit him, I don’t do it. Everyone was floored when I took an actual spring break this year and have planned to do the same for summer. I haven’t actually had a true summer since I graduated from Rutgers. I can’t count my first summer with Phil because while backpacking through Europe was definitely a summer, it too was a lot of work. This will be the first summer where I will have no work, no deadlines just an endless amount of time with my baby.

Which has led us to the serious questions of when we want to expand our family again. Since we did not start our family when I was in my 20’s, I know that I do not have much time to finish building our family either. I think by 36, you’re already considered geriatric when it comes to pregnancy. It made me realize how scared I was to get pregnant again. With Logan, my pregnancy was uncomplicated other than being sick every day with him and in the end, I only gained 10 pounds and after deilvery, I wound up losing almost 50 within the first months of being home. My delivery was complicated. I was 42 weeks pregnant and induced for two days. We developed an infection on the morning of the 3rd day and I was rushed in for an emergency c-section where I got to meet the most perfect little boy.

We had 3 days together in the hospital and just as they were about to discharge me, my blood pressure shot through the roof and I was diagnosed with postpartum pre-eclampsia which affects 1 in 600 pregnancies. I had never even heard of that. I spent the next day being infused with magnesium sulfite and dealing with the craziest bunch of nurses I had ever dealt with. They had me on hefty drugs for the c-section, but when I developed a headache from lack of sleep, the magnesium and I am sure the overall stress, I had a nurse get into a fight with me over it. It was just such a whacky experience and we had driven 45 minutes to deliver at that hospital because in New Jersey it is known as THE baby hospital. I was so unimpressed. And the real kicker, the epidural? Didn’t even work! I felt it ALL.

I have been scared of and distant from my husband for months because I was terrified of going through all of that again. It’s taken me a while to even think that at some point I would like to have another baby to grow our family. I think this time though, I would find a midwife that specializes in VBAC and home birth because I never want to go through a c-section again nor do I want to deal with that hospital or any hospital for that matter unless I absolutely have to. I think all of the medical interventions that I believed in for my first pregnancy contributed to my difficult delivery and if God does bless us with another (or three more children), I definitely will not be repeating my first birth experience.

Are Moms and Dads that Different?

My son has reached a point in his development where he knows that I leave in the morning and he does not like it. He has the most heartbreaking yet oddly adorable cry face too which just means he knows how to pull it out to get me to cave in .1 seconds.

He needs me to hold him. All the time. From the moment I get home at night, I am holding him and carrying him around with everything that I do. This was much easier when he was smaller and less mobile and therefore, easily wearable and between that and my body heat, would spend much of his time napping. Now, not so much.

This morning I was running late for work because my son had woken up and immediately wanted to nurse. I have IMMENSE guilt when I turn him down from nursing, so I will always nurse him when he asks for it. He nurses and then once he’s more awake he wants to cuddle and be held, only I REALLY have to pee and shower and get ready to go. I attempt to put him into his pack and play which is just explosive tears the moment he realizes that he’s headed for it.

Quickly, I hold onto him and run to the bathroom. And yes, I pee while I am holding him and he’s happy and chatting as he plays with my necklace. It is 100% true: you lose all privacy once you become a mom and as a mom, your kid will be in the bathroom with you.

Enter my husband.

He just starts shaking his head when it finds us there and takes our son from me.

“We have to get on the same page,” he tells me. I roll my eyes. My mom never let us cry needlessly or for anything when we were my son’s age. You can not spoil someone with love. You can spoil them with things, but that’s something for when he’s older to be worried about.

“Why do you think he’s so different and calm when I’m home? He’s secure. He knows I will be there when he cries.” Then my husband rolls his eyes.

“You’re going to turn him into a mama’s boy.”

And here’s where I zing him good. “Well, apple…tree.” I wink. My husband is further not amused. “And, he’s already a mama’s boy. He’s making little mmm and momom sounds when he cries now because he knows I will be there. We’re working on the official, mama.”

“Go to work.”

The irony in all of it though is that while I am teaching today, our son will be sitting on the couch with my husband as my husband does work for school and my son watches wrestling or cartoons and takes his nap. Then I’ll be home and we’ll switch to Murder, She Wrote and Little House on the Prairie and we’ll sit cuddling and sharing my evening yogurt that he has become obsessed with and the night will go on.

As different as moms and dads are, I think they’re also a lot more alike than they are different. Moms just have more patience and are more open to giving up personal freedoms such as peeing without a small audience.

 

Baby Led Weaning is a Life Saver

It is a fact that my son did not want to be born.

I did EVERYTHING I possibly could to start labor.

I walked, ate hot food, bounced on a ball, did all kinds of stretches…everything, but I would not dilate and the moment the doctor said they were willing to induce, I jumped on it because being 42 weeks pregnant with a nearly 10 pound baby is life’s slowest form of torture.

Only once he was born, all our Logan wants to do is grow up. Physically, he is ahead of every benchmark. He was already trying to roll over in the hospital and was picking his head up. By 6 months old, he was using his play stroller and taking steps. There is no stopping him.

Baby-Led Feeding

I started him on home made purees at 4 1/2 months by almost 6 months, he was grabbing the spoon from my hand to feed himself. I did pre-loaded spoons for awhile that he would take and eat from, but then we reached a point where even that was frustrating for him so, I began to research baby led weaning.

It really freaked me out at first because I was terrified that he would choke. However, it has been such a life saver. He is so much happier when he has strips of food in front of him and he tries so much more food now. This morning he ate more than half of his breakfast.

It’s also teaching me more about foods. It makes me have to cook for my family even on nights when I am exhausted from work and school. I know what’s in food now and I have finally shifted over to a almost completely organic food list. We replaced cow’s milk with fortified almond milk. Even the cleaners I have used have gone from whatever name brand my mom used to get to plant based products. Logan continues to change us everyday and it’s almost fun to see what new challenge he’s going to give me and how quick I can figure out how I’m going to be the best mom for him.

I’m a Reformed Anti-Breastfeeding Mom

I admit it.

Before I had my son, I thought breast feeding was the strangest thing. My boobs were supposed to do what? I was supposed to allow my kid to put his mouth where? It all just seemed strange to me.

f78c76004a8cd72a3e0861c75fcaec61--baby-jesus-religious-art

However, I am a reader.

I will read anything. I am also a researcher. And whenever I am looking into something new in my life like how to raise a tiny human, for example, I begin reading and researching everything that I can about the very big decisions that were coming up in my life.

As uncomfortable as I felt with breastfeeding, I also knew that it was what was best for Logan and as his mom it was my job to at least try to give him the best start I could in life regardless of how weird I thought breastfeeding was.

I am not entirely sure what it was about breastfeeding that was so off putting at first. I was an art history major at Rutgers, I had studied a lot of boobie art. I have traveled and lived in different places. I have seen other women breast feed in public, but when it came to me, it just felt all so weird.

But then, my momming kicked in and I realized that I had to try. So I did, but I did it to my terms. I set out with a small goal, I would breast feed him until he was 6 months old and I would only do it when I felt comfortable with it. I have never breast fed in public and I will give him bottles when I am out. I nurse him on demand at home and at night he nurses himself to sleep. In the early days I pumped a huge freezer collection that I use to make his puree’s with now. I am really glad that I have breast fed him up until the point, I do feel that it has helped us bond and is such a comfort for him.

I am also giving him an immune system and so far (knock on ALL the wood) he has only had a little cold that I nursed him through and he was over in two days. My new goal is to nurse him until he is a year old and then see where we both are at. Since I have introduced food, I have noticed that he asks for it less and less, but still wants his nightly session to fall asleep to.

I definitely do not regret choosing to take myself out of my comfort zone and provide my son with what he needed.  This was also my first lesson of motherhood: sometimes you will do things that might make you feel weird, but are in the best interest of your baby. And if you can do that when you need to? Then you’re doing this momming thing right.

 

My New Favorite Phrase

I don’t know why some people take it upon themselves when they learn that a woman is pregnant or is a new mom to vomit all over them unsolicited parenting advice.

I have always found it to be one of the most annoying things about people who choose to do that.

They are a close second to the kinds of people who see you parenting one way and feel the need to comment about how they would do it or how you should do it. They are the absolute worst.

The great big reality of it all is that there are a million ways to parent and be successful at raising kids. And everyone is going to do it differently. When my mom took my son and I home from the hospital since my husband had to go back to work and I was abruptly discharged after almost dying, my mom tucked me into my house and waited for my husband to get home. Then she said to me, “you’ll figure it out. Call me when you want to talk and if not, I’ll call you in a couple days.”

And that was it. And she left me and my husband to figure out our son.

It was the best thing my mom could have done for us. She gave us room to figure out our son and the kinds of parents we were going to be. The truth is, I have taken some things from my mom that I remember growing up and I have added a lot of my own. I also became the kind of mom I never thought I would be: the co-sleeping, breast feeding, holistic kind of mom who believes her son is best at home with either myself or his dad or on the best days, both of us.

46445166_10100663189771167_7237444180694269952_n

And for our son, I think that is just what he needs. He is almost 6 1/2 months now. He loves food. He loves to cuddle. He loves to crawl and explore, everything. He sits and pulls himself up. He’s figured out how to transfer to other objects when he’s standing to move through the living room. He’s taken a few practice steps with his play stroller. He smiles all the time and loves to interact with the dogs and people. He screams and chatters up a storm. He belly laughs when he watches Behr do Behr things. He’s happy and healthy and secure. Which is exactly what I want him to be at 6 1/2 months old.

As a mother though, I will always get the commentary on what I should do  or how they would do it. However, I have also learned my new favorite response to people who think they have some sort of right to tell me how I raise my kid. And that is the following, very simple phrase:

“That is not how I am choosing to raise my son.”

Unfortunately, there will always be people who feel that they have some right to interject their thoughts or wants onto your child and your approach to parenting. They don’t, but they will continue to do it. So, I just learned to shut it down and keep on being the best mom I am being to my wonderful little boy who amazes me every single day.

Somewhere Between Sanity and Motherhood

I didn’t mean to take such a long break from writing, in fact, there is SO much I have wanted to write about, but I never seem to have the time anymore.

Our son was born a week before my birthday in August. I want to eventually write my birth story, but the entire ordeal was so traumatic that I still have problems even thinking about it. However, our little prince was absolutely worth it all:

3B5E25F8-C219-4AC5-AC4C-2C6273F75846

I had thought our boy would be my husband’s carbon copy, but he surprised me again in being mine with my husband’s dark brown eyes. He came into the world at almost 10 pounds and was 12 by his first doctors appointment. He is 5 months old this week and he loves to laugh at our dogs and snuggle. He talks up a storm and loves to be around people. I love watching him with his toys and how he figures out how to use them or how different sequences or choices make different noises. He is so incredibly smart.

I went back to work just before Thanksgiving and that has been the hardest part. I hate being away from him and I find that I just get through my days to get back to him and his smile.

I wrote my dissertation the entire time I was pregnant with him and then continued after I delivered and was half out of my mind recovering and learning how to breast feed him. It has been a wild ride for sure, but a of today I am half way through my dissertation journey and am eager to graduate next year. My PhD will take me to one last stop and that will be to Minneapolis for my graduation. Phil and I plan to take Logan and have our first family trip.

I am off for the holidays and I am enjoying every minute of being home. So, I guess I am now back to somewhere between my sanity and motherhood as we gear up for our next big adventure of selling out tiny house by the sea. I am excited and nervous for that move. I am ready to be in a big house and not have an hour commute, but I am also nervous about change and how much more work a big house is going to be.

Bring in on, though.