August 18, 2010

a day in the life - karen

Hello all, I am happy to introduce you to Karen. I 'met' Karen while I was pregnant, and have enjoyed reading all about little Jillian. Hope you enjoy a peek into a day in her life!


Hi, I am Karen from over at Karen at Home. I am a mommy to sweet, 7 month old Jillian and wife to my handsome hubby Jeff. We live in Cleveland, Ohio and both work for the same company. Jeff and I also recently built our new home so in addition to being a new mommy, I have a mild obsession for HGTV and home decor!

I am so thrilled to be a part of Ashley's 'A Day in the Life of a Mommy' series. I have been enjoying reading all of the guest bloggers so far and have learned a lot from each one! The one unique thing about my situation is that I consider myself both a stay at home mom and a working mom. I work on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7:30 to 5:30 and have my Tuesday's and Friday's off to stay at home with Jillian. In addition to obviously myself, Jillian has more than one caregiver throughout the work week. On Monday's, Jeff's Mom has been gracious enough to watch her, and on Wednesday's and Thursday's, Jillian is at daycare. I like to think that with so many people loving and caring for Jillian, she is going to grow up to be a very well adjusted little girl.

It was so hard for me to decide on what I wanted to do after Jillian's arrival. I have been in the working world since I graduated college in 1996 and have only known the life of a career woman. The thought of quitting my job after all these years to stay at home with Jillian was beyond scary to me, not to mention in this economy! So one day during my pregnancy, I decided to ask my boss to go part time, and surprisingly he agreed to it. To this day, I am so grateful for his flexibility and which made my decision that much easier. There are so many pros and cons to both sides of the stay at home/working mom equation and only you will know for sure what solution works best for your family!

I would like to take you through both of my days so you can see for yourself what it is like to both stay at home and live the life of a working mom. To be honest with you, I thought I would enjoy my days at work a lot more than I do. I thought being at home with Jillian, even for two days, would make me feel like a fish out of water. I thought going to work and interacting with professional adults would be a nice break from the hard work and exhaustion of caring for an infant. Boy was I was hugely mistaken! I never thought I would miss my baby girl so much. To this day, I still consider leaving my job all together to stay at home full time.

I hope you enjoy a glimpse into both of my days! First, I would love to share with you my typical Tuesday, a day that I am at home with Jillian. I will be doing a follow up post on my blog later this week to share with you the day in the life of a working Mom.

7am I am awoken to Jeff's alarm going off, the local morning talk show blaring through the speakers. I can feel Jeff hit the snooze button as we both roll over. I am still pretty tired since Jillian had woken up at 3am that night to nurse. She still has not fully kicked her night awakenings and will cry to eat a few nights a week. Even though I am still feeling a bit groggy, a feeling of happiness and relaxation hit me as I realize that I don't have to go to work today! The alarm goes off again and I hear Jeff turn it off and slowly get out of bed. I roll over and grab the video monitor to check on Jillian. I notice that she has contorted herself into a ball and is pressed against the one side of her crib. How can that be comfortable? So I ask Jeff to go check on our peanut to make sure she is OK. He comes back into our room and says that she is fine, and then heads for the bathroom to take a shower. I fall back asleep for a few more minutes.

7:45am I am awoken to Jeff giving me a kiss good bye and telling me to enjoy my day off with Jillian. Since we live so close to work, Jeff says he hopes to be home after his 11am meeting for lunch.

8:23am I am awoken to the sounds of Jillian babbling in her crib. Today she has woken up happy which is music to my ears. I lay there listening to her carry on and decide to get up before her babbles turn into cries once she realizes that no one is paying attention to her!

8:30am - I pick Jillian up out of her crib and place her on the changing table. I am excited to see a little bit of a poopy diaper since Jillian has been having constipation issues lately. I gave her some Gerber Baby Pear Juice last night before bed and it appears it worked a bit. We cuddle and play a bit on the changing table as Jillian and I give each other "smooches".

8:45am - I take Jillian back into our room and place her in the center of our bed. I get all set up to nurse her for the next 45 minutes. While nursing her, I watch last nights episode of 'Bachelor Pad' from our DVR.

9:45am - I throw my hair into a short pony tail and brush my teeth. I decide that it's too beautiful of a morning not to take a walk. I put on a pair of old shorts and a Target tank and take Jillian downstairs to start our day. The great room looks like a Babies R Us showroom. On most days, I do pick up after her, however, since I worked the day before, I just didn't have the energy. I usually spend a lot of my days off picking up after a hectic work day. Note my breast pump in the back of the picture, the chair in our great room is my "pumping throne" and normally where you will find me pumping at night before bed.

I place Jillian on her activity mat so I can tidy up the kitchen. I then head out to the garage to get Jillian's stroller out of the back of our SUV and set it up in the driveway. I walk back into the house, grab Jillian and my cell phone, set the house alarm, and walk back out into the garage to start our walk around the neighborhood.

- We live in a new construction neighborhood so there is a constant flurry of activity during the day. I push the stroller along the sidewalks, waving hello to the Amish construction workers and contractors that are currently working on a few homes under construction. I will typically talk to Jillian like we are having a normal conversation and make sure to point out the birds, dogs in the neighborhood, and all of the pretty flowers in the neighbor's yard. I notice Jillian is starting to fall asleep so I decide to cut our walk short and head home, hoping that she will go down for a nap.

11:30am - I put Jillian down in her crib and turn on her mobile, praying that she falls asleep. Jillian is not a good sleeper overall so you never know what you are going to get out of nap time. Sometimes she will fall asleep, other times she will just lay in her crib and fuss and cry. I leave her room to tidy up our room and make our bed. After ten minutes of fussing and crying, I determine this nap time as one big fail and decide to nurse her in our room for a half hour since it's close to her next mealtime anyway.

12pm - Jillian is almost finished eating when I notice that she has fallen asleep in my lap. I knew that was bound to happen since she was so tired and was in desperate need of a nap. I can hear the garage door opening downstairs signalling that Jeff was home for lunch. Jillian hears her Daddy is home so nap time on mommy's lap is over with before it barely even begins!

12:15pm - I fix Jeff a quick sandwich and start warming up an ounce and a half of breast milk in the bottle warmer to prepare Jillians lunch. She is having two tablespoons of rice cereal mixed with breast milk and prunes today. Since Jillian is still having some "issues" in the plumbing department, I figure prunes is a good choice for lunch!

1:30pm - After lunch, I put Jillian in her jumperoo while I clean up the kitchen. I am thinking today would be a great day to hit the pool since the two of us only have a few weeks left before the community pools close up for Labor Day Weekend. I then realize Jillian's bathing suit is still in the laundry from the last time we were at the pool so I will have to squeeze her in to one that no longer really fits her. Oops!!! At least it's a two piece and should still be able to wear it.

- Preparing to go anywhere is never an easy task with a baby and preparing for just a few hours at the pool is no exception. I changed Jillian's diaper and lathered her up in sunscreen. In the process of putting on her bathing suit bottoms, I realized that those prunes must have kicked in, and really needed to change her diaper. So the bathing suit bottoms come back off. I change her diaper again, and put them back on along with her top. I pack up a my diaper bag and beach bag with extra towels, bottle filled with distilled water, formula dispenser, sippy cup with water, snacks, sunscreen, camera, diapers wipes, and extra swim diapers. I put Jillian into her car seat and hand her a small toy to play with while I pack up the car. I fold up the stroller from our morning walk and put it into the back of our SUV.

3:00pm - 4:30pm - POOL! We play in the kiddie pool for an hour, Jillian loves splashing about and is absolutely fascinated by all of the other babies. Jillian starts to fuss a bit so we head back to our chairs so I can feed her a 6 ounce bottle of formula. Before heading back into the water, my mom's intuition tells me that I should probably change her swim diaper in the lockeroom. God forbid they would have to clear out the pool on account of my child! And, she did happen to have prunes for lunch...

4:45pm It's time to leave the pool so I can head home to start dinner. I would love to get most of it prepared before Jeff comes home from work. Once I am home, I decide that I don't feel like cooking and make a nutritious meal consisting of Tyson breaded chicken patty sandwiches and Kraft macaroni and cheese. It's quick, easy, and perfect for a night you don't feel like spending that much time in the kitchen.

- Jeff comes home from work and I begin to prepare Jillian's dinner. For dinner, she is having two tablespoons of rice cereal mixed with breast milk and green beans.

6:30pm - After everyone eats, we clean up the kitchen and decide to head for a walk around the neighborhood. It's much too nice of a night to be sitting indoors! We stop to talk to several of the neighbors, all who want to get a look at Jillian. We have several neighbors we are close to so we hang out for awhile chatting and catching up on the neighborhood gossip.

8pm - It's bedtime, time for our routine of the three B's. Bath, Book, and Bottle. I would love to exclusively breastfeed Jillian but my milk supply really suffered when I went back to work so I supplement with formula, especially at bedtime. Since Jillian has a tendency to wake up for night feedings, we try to give her a six ounce bottle of formula at bedtime since formula takes longer to digest. Our bedtime can go two ways. One, Jillian falls asleep halfway through her bottle and I place in her in her crib without issue. As soon as she hits the mattress, she will roll to her side, no paci necessary, and will be fast asleep. Other nights, Jillian will drink her bottle and will act like she is wide awake even though she is over tired. It will be a thirty minute struggle to get her to fall asleep. We will give her the paci several times, it then ends up on the floor or on the other side of the crib. Jeff and I take turns trying to get her to fall asleep. Her bedtime is still obviously a work in progress but it does seem to be getting better as she gets older. Tonight I am fortunate that she fell asleep right away and I was back downstairs by 9pm to spend some time with Jeff.

9pm - I hang out with Jeff and watch a few shows on our DVR. After becoming parents, it is rare to be able to watch our favorite shows as they occur, we usually end up watching them on our own time.

9:30pm - After enjoying some time with Jeff, it's time for me to pump and to get Jillian's bottles washed and prepared for daycare the next day. We send Jillian to daycare with four 6 ounce bottles. Two are filled with breast milk, the other two with formula. I also include a small container of fruit or vegetables for her lunch.

10:15pm - I head up to bed to watch the rest of House Hunters on HGTV. I try to go to bed as soon as I can each night just in case it's one of those evenings where Jillian wants to eat at 3am. It's also a work night and 5:30am comes soon enough, it's even more unbearable if Jillian does have a night feeding.

Now for a little Q&A with Ashley!
1. What is the most surprising thing to you about being a mother?
I am mostly surprised at how long I have continued to breast feed Jillian. My initial goal before I even had her was six months, however, when reality set in, I was ready to stop by two months. Breast feeding in the beginning was excruciatingly painful. I also had developed a bleb around six weeks and I would literally be in tears every time Jillian would feed from my left side. I even met with lactation consultants and a lactation support group for new moms. I did everything I could though to keep it going. Everything finally came together and the pain went away around 2 1/2 months. When I went back to work, my supply really suffered. I wasn't pumping as much as I should and I also became really ill for about a week. Since I was producing so little, I had to use up a lot of my reserves during that time. Jillian now gets half of her milk from formula but I am determined to keep going. We both still really enjoy our time together and I don't see a reason now to stop.

2. What are some tips you would give to new moms, or soon to be mommas?
To be honest, the first few weeks with Jillian were a blur, I was so sleep deprived and feeling extremely overwhelmed with all of the changes going on in my life and with my body. I didn't think it was ever going to get better. I felt like a zombie and I looked like complete crap. Everyone told me it would get better but I didn't believe them. One night I went up to my room and cried while family came over to see the baby. I didn't think it was ever going to get better. But trust me, it WILL get better. After that first months, you start to see glimpses of first smiles and that is the moment that made it all worth it to me.

I would also tell new Moms to always be true to yourself and to continue to do the little things that make you happy. If you are not happy, then your baby will pick up on that.

I also feel it is so important to make time for your husband, it's so easy to get lost in the rat race of raising a newborn that our husbands sometimes are the last ones to warrant our attention. Continue to go on dates and enjoy some quiet time together after the baby goes to bed at night.

3. What are your top three baby products?
1. The Itzbeen Baby timer: This gadget was my life saver, especially those first few months when you are feeding every 2-3 hours. I was so sleep deprived and overwhelmed in the beginning that I could barely remember my name let alone when the last time Jillian had her last feeding! This little gadget what keep track of the last time you fed your baby, changed her diaper, and would time how long she would sleep. There is also a bonus button to use for anything. I would often use this button for timing how long I would pump.

2. Dr. Browns Bottles: These bottles are the best. I was told be several moms that you normally end up trying every bottle to see which ones work best for your baby but that wasn't the case with me. I did a lot of research during my pregnancy and Dr. Browns seemed to have the best reviews and were most recommended. They worked great with Jillian and I never had to try another type of bottle.

3. Fisher Price Precious Planet Bouncy Seat: I love this bouncy seat. I surprisingly never had a bouncy seat on my registry, just an infant seat, so when my parents bought this for Jillian, I was so thankful. It was a vibrating feature which we used a lot when Jillian was a newborn, and when she learned to kick, this seat amused her for hours. We take it everywhere we go and she still uses it even today. She now pulls on the little toys that hang down and I always seem to be humming those little tunes that come out of the toys!!!


Thanks Karen!!


Erin said...

I love this series, and as a working mom, I'm excited to see the work day schedule as well!

Shannon said...

Oh fun! I'm a new follower from Karen's blog! This is such a neat idea! Like Karen we haven't hardly seen a "live" tv show since our little one's arrival. Thank goodness for the DVR. And we love pool time too! Thank goodness, since it's been so hot! Looking forward to following!

Meredith said...

Oh yeah, I rarely watch live TV either--maybe one of my baby recommendations should have been a DVR!

Carrie said...

i use the itzbeen baby timer too! i saw it in the nightstand picture and wasn't surprised when it showed up in karen's top three baby products. my kid is five weeks old and i still keep that thing by my side 24/7. i used the "extra" button for my postpartum meds. hey, i even used those buttons to time contractions when i was in labor! it's great!