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Friday, May 20th, 2011
Hi! I’m Julia, single mom to Caroline, age two, who I adore but did not plan for. I got pregnant with her unexpectedly about halfway through dental school. I was married at the time. I continued with school until I went into preterm labor around 28 weeks, at which point I took a year off. I went back to dental school in January 2010, when Caroline was 11 months old. That summer, I filed for divorce from my husband, and our divorce was finalized this past February. I finally graduated from dental school just last week. My blog is about the challenges and joys of being a single mother and a dental student… and now that I’m done with school, a brand-new dentist.
I’ve been blogging for about three years and just moved all my old posts here to Parents (after much effort and HTML editing and breaking and fixing of tags, which probably would have been no big deal if I actually knew what a tag was, which I don’t). Since most of you reading this are probably new to my blog, I thought I’d put together a list of the posts that summarize my story the best. For the rest of you who already know me and followed me here… a little walk down memory lane. Or skip this post and wait for the new stuff!
Pick and choose and skip at will!
Shock: The day I found out I was pregnant.
The perils of unplanned pregnancy: The start of the troubles between me and Tyler.
Preterm WHAT??: Preterm labor begins at 28 weeks.
Suddenly a stay-at-home mom: Temporarily leaving school and going on bedrest.
It’s a girl!: Caroline is born at 36 weeks!
My birth story will have to wait: NICU trials and tribulations.
Birth story: This one’s self-explanatory.
A paper cut on the eye: Struggles with breastfeeding and pumping.
My “I-will-never’s”: It’s so much easier to parent before you actually become a parent.
See you in 10 minutes!”: I was so not a newborn kind of person.
Life is good: Just kidding, I was so totally a newborn kind of person. That day.
Whose leg do I have to hump to get a referral around here?: Issues with reflux.
Diagnosis: I am diagnosed with postpartum depression and PTSD.
Quitting time: I quit pumping in order to save my sanity.
Single mom’ing it: Tyler’s long and frequent absences take their toll.
I can do this: I return to dental school after my year at home.
Milestone anxiety: Caroline’s gross motor delay and resulting physical therapy.
May 16, 2010: Was once supposed to be my graduation day… but was still a good one.
Overly personal statement: Thoughts on having a baby during dental school.
I think I need to clarify: Explanation of my decision to file for divorce.
Empty: Tyler officially moves out.
Dear Caroline: A letter to my daughter about why I left her father.
“I don’t think she smiles like that”: Finding my happy place.
Off-limits: Struggles with dating after divorce.
Same team: My roller coaster plunges down again, and stories of divorce counseling.
Irretrievable breakdown: Our divorce is finalized.
“How do you do it all?”: Well, as it turns out, I really don’t.
That which angers you, controls you: I struggle with Tyler introducing his new girlfriend to Caroline.
Control freak: Continued struggles and introspection.
Alone: Thoughts on being single.
Prayer for my daughter: Reflections on what I want for my daughter, based on my own trainwreck of a personal life.
DMD… finally: My graduation from dental school… at last.
Whew. Long list. But it’s way shorter than reading all of my past posts. And if the past three years of my life have been anything, they’ve been eventful. Enjoy, and welcome to my blog!
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Babies, Blogging, Breastfeeding, Caroline, Dating, Divorce, milestones, NICU/Prematurity issues, physical therapy, Pregnancy, Reflux, School, Single Parenting, Tyler, Visitation | Categories:
Caroline, Dental School, Divorce, Must Read, NICU/Prematurity issues, Pregnancy, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance
Friday, December 10th, 2010
I always enjoy tracking the google searches that lead to my blog. Usually it’s a whole lot of searches along the lines of “unexpectedly expecting blog” or “unexpectedly expecting julia” and whatnot. Sometimes there are a few extremely creative spellings of “unexpectedly” (get it together, people).
But aside from those, the most common search terms to lead to this page are “paper cut on eye” (thank you, breastfeeding) and “how to make a woman cry” (thank you, pumping).
(Okay, there also was once a search for “grown woman in diper” [sic] but we just won’t even go there. No, we won’t go there. Because I don’t even want to know.)
Seriously? Who are these men (I assume they are men) searching for how to make a woman cry? WTF? Stop googling that. We are doing enough crying all on our own, probably already because of you, thanks very much. We don’t need you looking for instructions on how to make us do that.
And now that I’ve made a whole post about it, I’ve probably just perpetuated the problem. That’s okay. At least now when they search for it, they’ll get here and be scolded. You’re welcome.
And for those of you googling “paper cut on eye”, well, I’m sorry for you, because that just sounds like it really sucks. Good luck with that.
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Sunday, August 23rd, 2009
Since we were gone for about two months, I’d bore you to death if I went into everything in detail. So, here’s a rundown on what we were up to in the great state of North Dakota:
- I lived only two blocks away from my in-laws… and survived! I really do love them and I know I’m lucky to have them, because they don’t even compare to some of the in-law horror stories I’ve heard. However. My mother-in-law can be a tad bit overbearing when it comes to her grandkids, especially one who normally lives 2,000 miles away. And by overbearing, I don’t mean the “oh give me the baby again” type… I mean the “if you don’t come over by noon I will drive by your house repeatedly and peer in the windows to see what is taking you so long” type. Yeeeeah.
- I fell head over heels in love with the rural-ness of it all. For reals. By the end of the summer we were looking at land to buy and someday build a house on. It probably won’t happen because Tyler would like to be a professor or museum curator, but the beautiful badlands in the summertime had me dreaming of packing up our apartment and never looking back.
- My sister-in-law and I became great friends. She is my first and only “mommy friend” so far… none of my friends here in Connecticut are even close to thinking about having kids. I never knew how important it is to have a mommy friend until I actually had one– it makes such a big difference. We hung out almost every day, talked about everything, and played with our babies. It was heaven. We even had a half-birthday party for Caroline and her cousin, since they share a birthday but we are never together in February. I really enjoyed finally getting to know my nieces, too, since we live so far apart. My 2 1/2-year old niece sobbed when we left (“I– don’t– want– Joo-ah– to– GO!!!!”)… and so did I.
- Caroline started solid food (avocado!) and learned to tripod and then sit on her own. I felt like I took a teeny baby out there who was content to be carried around all day, and returned with a much bigger baby who is now squirming to get out of my arms so she can wriggle around on the floor. Sniff.
- Speaking of baby food, making it for Caroline is so much fun and saves tons of cash. I made sweet potatoes for one of her first foods, but they gave her a rash. Since I didn’t want to waste them, I gave the rest of them to Tyler at dinner one night. He loved them. After he ate it, I remembered that I made it using my breastmilk. I didn’t tell him. (If you’re reading this… love you, honey! Sorry!)
- In case you can’t tell by everything I’ve already said, my post-partum depression really seemed to lift out there. I was technically in the middle of nowhere, but I was much less isolated than I am here in the middle of civilization, because Tyler’s family was all around. The constant sunlight streaming into our big, gorgeous rental house helped me a lot too. Even though I was sad to leave North Dakota, I still feel about a million times happier than I did when we left Connecticut. Here’s our bright and sunny living room:
- I quit pumping entirely a few weeks after we got there, and just nursed twice a day until my milk supply ran out. I was so, so upset to stop nursing… but at the same time, it was such a relief to have the whole drama finally be over with. Caroline is formula-fed now, and even though I never wanted that for her, I can’t deny that it has made me a better mother on the whole– now that I am not torturing myself with a plastic pump eight times a day.
- I cheated on my husband with a cowboy. WHAT THE WHAT?! Just kidding. Wanted to see if you were still paying attention. Bet that caught Tyler’s eye, if he’s reading. (Between this and #5, he might be initiating a come-to-Jesus chat with me tonight. Wish me luck.)
- Caroline’s reflux has definitely improved, although she does still have occasional choking episodes where solids come out her nose and we both freak the freak out. Sometimes I still feel frustrated with all her spitting up, but I try to put it in perspective– it can be measured in terms of tablespoons now, rather than square feet of couch. And, at her six-month appointment she weighed 15 pounds 10 ounces, which is almost in the 50th percentile! I have never, ever in my life been so happy to achieve average-ness.
- On the plane trip back, Caroline and I sat next to an elderly man who was not interested in babies and didn’t give Caroline the attention she thought she deserved. When I woke up after dozing off for a minute, she was leaning over and stroking his arm. He was not amused. I was.
So, that’s about it! As you can see, we had a fantastic time overall. It’s too bad Caroline won’t remember this summer, because I will always look back on it with fond memories as one of the best summers of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better two months.
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Saturday, June 20th, 2009
Well, I finally made the decision. I’m quitting pumping!
I knew that I needed to quit. It was making me crazy. I was pumping eight times a day, for 15-20 minutes each– that’s between 2 and 3 hours of pumping a day. It was uncomfortable and mechanical and to tell you the truth, I was starting to resent my baby a little bit. I was measuring my worth as a mother in ounces pumped. It was kind of a sickness. And I’m done with it.
Since I’ve made the decision, I’d say I feel about 90% relief and 10% guilt. Making the decision was the hardest part. I was just hanging on because I was hoping that she might grow out of her reflux enough that I would be able to nurse her again, but the GI has told me that is unlikely. And, I needed to wait until I could feel more relieved than guilty. If I could have kept nursing, I would have gone the full year. And I know some moms keep pumping if their babies can’t nurse for whatever reason. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just am not one of those moms. I’m okay with that now.
So, I’ve dropped down to three pumps per day, and over the next two weeks I’ll drop the other two. I’m hoping to be done by the time she’s five months old. I need to go slowly since I am so prone to mastitis– I’ve already had it three times. (The last pump to go will actually be our early morning nursing session, which I am really not supposed to be doing anyway… that is the one I will really miss.) I feel a little bit sad, but mostly I just feel free. No more hooking myself up to a machine. No more trying desperately to keep up with her demand. I just started weaning yesterday, and I already feel like I am enjoying her more.
Some of my friends told me I should smash my pump, Office Space-style. Haha. If I had quit anytime before now, I probably would have wanted to. But now I just feel good about it. I did the best I possibly could have done, and I’m at peace with it.
Thank you to all who have offered me support since my last post. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me.
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Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
I debated about whether or not I should blog about this, because I know that some people I know in real life read my blog. But I guess I’ve blogged about every other aspect of my pregnancy/motherhood, and what I’m about to say really isn’t anything to be ashamed of, so, here goes.
I’ve been feeling really crappy lately. I’m not sure when it started. I was feeling okay for awhile, or maybe I was just too busy and worried about Caroline to notice. I also kind of assumed that it was just a situational thing, because I had to make such a big adjustment in moving from school to staying at home, and all the other changes having a baby brings to your life. And, you know, it’s pretty isolating to stay at home with a baby when all of your friends are either far away or in an intense dental program… and none of them are even thinking about having babies of their own.
It wasn’t just that, though… ever since we brought Caroline home from the NICU, I’ve been having nightmares. Horrible dreams that she’s dead in the bed with me. I wake up several times a night from the same dream, digging frantically in the blankets for her because I’m convinced that she’s in there. And I think about the NICU and the midnight transfer in the ambulance all the time. I still cry about it every day. It was a traumatic experience, for sure, but still feeling like this just doesn’t seem normal to me. I was hoping that all this would go away with time, but it just… hasn’t.
So, I was going to my OB today anyway because I was having an issue with my IUD. I brought up my concerns with the nurse practitioner and she left the room for a long time. When she came back, she told me that the OB on call wanted me to go to a psychiatrist across the street, and that they could see me immediately. I went over there, feeling kind of like I had done something wrong and lost my recess.
I talked to the psychiatrist for a long time, over an hour. When she was done asking me questions (questions that included things like “can you tell me today’s date” and “what do apples and oranges have in common”… ummm… I’m not that far gone, lady), she put her clipboard down and said:
“I think you have moderate to severe postpartum depression. You went through a very traumatic experience, what with having your new baby in the hospital in uncertain condition, right in the middle of a mess of postpartum hormones and physical pain. You’ve had to continue struggling with her health and weight gain, and to give up breastfeeding for a much more mechanical, demanding way of feeding her. You’re continuing to torture yourself with all this pumping in order to try to live up to this unattainable ideal that our society has of the perfect mother, who gives her baby breastmilk, no matter what. You had to suddenly leave your program and all its activity and human interaction to stay at home with your baby, with no friends who understand what your new life is like. On top of it all, your pregnancy was unexpected, you say you were an anxious person to begin with, and depression runs in your family. How could you not be depressed?”
Well. I have to say, she heard me. It felt like a huge weight was lifted, that somebody understood me. I’ve sort of brought it up with Tyler and my mom, but Tyler just said “she’s healthy now, why is it still bothering you?” and my mom just gave me a look that I couldn’t quite read. So, it was such a relief just to have someone tell me that it was okay to feel sad. In general, I try not to think about any of that, because I don’t have time for self-pity and it doesn’t do anything for me anyway. But clearly ignoring it isn’t helping, so I have to try something else.
She suggested that I start two medications, check in with her over the phone while we’re in ND, start counseling once we get back, and quit pumping. I told her I was fine with all of that except the pumping, and that I just can’t quite do that yet, I’d feel too guilty. She went over to her desk, handed me a picture of a really pretty girl about my age, and said “this is my baby. I had to quit breastfeeding her after one month. And you know what? She’s fine. She’s great. How you feed your baby is just one tiny part of being a good mother. You’ve done everything you can for four months… do what’s best for you, but also know that maybe it’s time to give it up in order to focus on all the other very important pieces of the puzzle.”
So, that might be happening in the near future, I haven’t decided yet. All in all, I’m so glad that I said something to the nurse at the OB. Maybe the medication will help me feel more like myself. All I can do is try it, right? So… wish me luck!
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