Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When I Knew Everything About Being A Mom

Before I had my son.  That's when I knew everything about being a mom.  Those of you who know me know I'm that type A (my husband says type A+) person who does all of my research ahead of time and has a plan for everything I'm going to do.  Once "The Plan" is established, we rarely deviate from "The Plan".  If you have seen my travel binders or helped at my wedding you know exactly what I'm talking about.  The instructions for setting up the reception were 3 pages long, typed, bulleted, and included diagrams.  When my husband and I moved to WA, I made diagrams of each room in the house, showing where all of the major pieces of furniture were to be placed by the movers.  The list of examples goes on.  Needless to say, being in the Navy has challenged me and my need for "The Plan".  Then we had Varick...

I read half a dozen, or more, books on parenting.  I had the apps that track growth and give you parenting tips.  I attended every class at the hospital.  I spoke to friends and family and KNEW what I was going to do with my baby.  In my mind I believed that I had allowed for some flexibility, but I really hadn't.  And any time someone questioned a part of "The Plan" I went into major defense mode. I had done my research.  I didn't need their suggestions, doubts or skepticism.  I just wanted their support.  To the point that after Varick was born, it was almost detrimental to us.

I was determined to exclusively breastfeed.  I had done my reading on it, gone to the classes, and spoken to other moms.  I wanted to give my child the best I could think of, and to me, that meant EBF.  I didn't want to feed my baby that "fake stuff" (sorry Aunt KC, but that was my opinion at that time).  Plus, I didn't want to pay for it.  For those of you who haven't purchased baby formula, it's expensive!  There's a reason it's locked up with the high end liquor in some stores...Then, Varick was born.  We struggled with his latch in the hospital, but by the time we went home he was eating so I didn't think anything of it.  My milk came in, I could tell he was getting food, and he stayed on for 30-45 minutes at a time so I figured he was eating well.  At his 2 day check after our release we weighed him.  He had lost a full pound, over 13% of his birth weight.  I freaked out a bit.  We adjusted what I was doing and I came back 2 days later.  He had gained 5 oz back!  Win!  I relaxed and we went back home and did our thing.  Two week check came up.  Varick had only gained 1oz.  I was devastated.  What was I doing wrong?  We started doing weekly weight checks.  I put Varick on unrestricted feeding (there goes the part of "The Plan" about putting him on a schedule).  I kept track of everything.  How many wet diapers he had, how many bms, how long he was eating.  I'd spend 5 hours a day with him nursing some days.  We saw nutritionists, lactation nurses, and doctors.  We found out Varick was tongue-tied and had it clipped (the most traumatic thing to Chad and I had experienced at that point).  Still, his weight crawled, going up 1 oz a week.  Finally, at 6 weeks he had reached his birth weight.  I would almost be in tears every time I changed his clothes.  He was so thin.  I felt like a failure as a mom.  People would say things out of concern, meaning the best, but in my head all I heard was "You aren't a good mom.  You aren't taking care of your son."  We finally started supplementing formula.  I hated it.  I hated the bottles. I hated the smell. Varick was spitting up half of the formula we fed him, so we switched to sensitive.  Then it happened.  The week we had 3 whole ounces of weight gain! Then the same the next week!  We were still in the 1-2% for weight, but we were at least on a growth curve finally.  We kept supplementing formula.  We had breast milk donated to us by a friend in the navy.  Varick kept growing and thriving.  At 5 months he finally started to catch up in his weight.  Through it all I realized that, in the end, it doesn't matter whether you exclusively breastfeed, supplement with formula, or exclusively formula feed.  What matters is that your baby is fed, happy, and growing.  You do what's right for you and your baby.

I also thought we were going to exclusively cloth diaper.  I'm a tree hugger at heart and hated the idea of spending money on disposable diapers just to have Varick poop in it and me throw it in the trash.  I still hate the idea.  Unfortunately, daycare wouldn't take cloth diapers.  I think that's partially because they don't understand how they work, partially because they just have sanitation concerns, which I understand.  So we buy disposables.  But when we are at home we use cloth (usually) and I love the fact that I can use them for our other children in the future.  Our stash has already paid itself off in diapers we didn't have to buy for our home. And really, the extra laundry isn't that bad.

"The Plan" also included making all of Varick's baby food.  It's fresher, I control what's going into my baby completely, and it's cheaper.  But we got on WIC because of my unstable job situation.  They give us like 50 jars of baby food a month.  So we get it, and that's what we take into daycare for Varick to eat.  And some times that's what he eats at home too.  Or when we travel.  You know what's in jarred baby food?  Vegetables and water.  You know what's in my homemade food?  Vegetables and water.  It's the same thing.  Mine is just chunkier.  I still haven't given him juice, processed sugar or junk food.  My baby eats health food, but some of it is pre-made from the store, just like mine.

There have been plenty of other things in "The Plan" that haven't always worked out for me.  Like sleep training, regular nap times, not letting Varick watch TV, reading to him every day, or consistently using sign language with him.  I have set him in his bouncer with "Fineus and Ferb" on for an hour before, so that I could do the dishes and start dinner.  I've left Varick in his crib to "cry it out" before when my husband was at work over night and I'd been trying to console him for over an hour and was at my wits end.  I've also handed him to his dad and said "I just can't deal with this right now" and left for a while.

In the end I've had to realize that being a parent isn't about being in control.  It's about being flexible.  It's about making sure my child is as healthy and safe as I can make him.  It's about making sure that Varick knows he is loved.  It's about ENJOYING my child, not worrying about if I'm doing everything "right". Because I won't.  I'm going to mess up.  But we learn and go on.  It's about sharing my experiences with other moms, so that they know that whatever they are going through with their child is "normal".  And it means not judging other moms.  Because I know that we are all just being the best moms that we can be to our own babies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Holidays, we survived

Ok, Chad and I LOVE Christmas time.  I do give Thanksgiving it's time and respect, but the weekend after Thanksgiving, the Christmas decorations come out and I am all about it.  We had to be a bit creative this year in the apartment.  Some furniture was re-arranged to make room for the tree and Chad had to figure out how to put up the lights around our apartment and not get into the neighbors way.  We got it done.  We were incredibly fortunate again that Chad had Christmas off of work.  We had 5 days of him not going into work where we could see our friends while they were in town and not working, and enjoy our holiday.  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we spent some time with our local navy friends, who certainly become your family in this lifestyle, and some much needed time together.  Our church up here also held a Christmas service which we very much enjoyed.  I hadn't attended Christmas services for years, but Chad and I went last year and this year and have found that we love having it as a part of our celebrations.  Another thing we were super excited about this year was that we had a white Christmas!  Snow started falling Christmas morning.  We've had a couple of snows so far this year up here and it's kinda fun for us...As long as we don't have to go out in it.  It's just pretty to look at and fun to play in.

A few days after Christmas my family was able to come up to visit for a week again.  Mom, Dad and Bryan got up here a few days before New Years and stayed through January 4th.  We had a second Christmas and showed them the area a bit.  We went into Seattle for an afternoon and also went to visit our Aunt Marilyn in Sequim, about an hour away.  Chad was back to work doing duty days, but we were fortunate that he still had New Year's Eve off.  It was our first New Years spent together.  We were also able to have our friends the Darlings over.  They've just arrived in the area from Charleston and we feel so blessed to have so many of our good friends  from over there end up here in Washington with us.  We were also fortunate that Chad got his birthday off of work.  He wasn't originally scheduled to, but one of his crew mates wife went into labor on New Year's Eve so Chad covered his shift on New Year's Day, which meant he didn't have to work on his birthday.  The wife delivered a healthy boy on January 1st, the  first baby of the New Year in this area.  We are very excited for them.

Life has gradually returned to normal around here.  The decorations came down, and Chad's back to work.  The family went home and the house is back to normal (minus the crib that is now occupying space in my living room).  I contracted some kind of plague virus from either my family or Chad so I haven't been back to work as I try to recover.  Last year was amazing.  Chad and I can hardly believe everything that happened to us and how much has changed.  It was an amazing year.  We are so excited to see what 2013 has in store for us now!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Week of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.  What can I say?  I love to eat and Thanksgiving is great excuse to eat until your family and friends have to roll you away from the table so that you can fall into a food induced coma on the couch.  I love how my husband takes cooking the turkey VERY seriously.  In no way, shape, or form can the Schwartz house merely bake a regular turkey with stuffing.  Oh no.  We must take this opportunity to try something new and different.  Last year we did an apple cider brine turkey, and discovered that an un-stuffed turkey takes significantly less time to cook than a stuffed one.  This year, we will be trying a honey citrus glazed turkey.  Now, when I say we I say that with the knowledge that Chad finds the recipe and I do most of the cooking.  This is not because he doesn't want to, or it's "not his thing".  It's because he is working.  So the day before and the morning of I'm preping the turkey and making the sides while Chad does his duty to Uncle Sam.
So while food is, of course, the centerpiece of activity during this holiday I do realize that it is not the spirit of Thanksgiving.  We do not come together with our family and friends simply to eat a big meal and watch football (not happening anyways this year due to a lack of cable).  We invite these people into our home because we care about them.  They are our family, or our friends, or sometimes they are just sailors who need a place to go so that they are a part of something for Thanksgiving.  They are all welcome in our home.  They are welcome because they have made an impact on our lives and we are thankful that we have them.
Secondly, the spirit of Thanksgiving is ... wait for it ... being THANKFUL!  It is so easy in our lives to not realize all that we have.  Most Americans (including myself) have never been to part of the world where the idea of having clean water, regular meals, and a pair of good shoes is more than they could ever hope for in life.  It's easy for us to be focused on what we don't have and what we want rather than what we have.  We become so miserable because we don't have a new car, a bigger house, that designer (fill in blank), a bigger TV, a new computer, or we can't go out to eat as much as we want or at that fancy restaurant we want to visit.  We don't stop to think about the fact that if you make $30,000 a year you are in the top 10% of the world in income level.  The top 10%!!  You make more than almost 6 billion people!  The list of what else we have goes on and on.  So, I hope that this year, myself, my family, and those around us can truly realize why we celebrate Thanksgiving.
This is the start of my list of what I'm thankful for this year,

  • That I have the love of God in my life, and that He saved me.
  • That I can worship Him without persecution, or fear of death.
  • That my husband has a job that provides a home, medical coverage, and all of our other bills and necessities for us.
  • That I have a job that can help us with supplementing our income.
  • For our baby that's growing within me and that it happened so easily for us.
  • For our family.  We have one of the most loving and supportive families that you could ask for.
  • For our friends.  Just like our family, they have been so supportive and helped us through every hard time.
  • For our pets, because they make me laugh and keep me company when Chad is away.
  • That I have never known true hunger
  • That I have a room full of clothes and good shoes
  • I am not afraid for my life and have never lived in a war zone.
  • I live in the United States of America

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So, we're going to have a baby...

On September 16th Chad and I found out we were pregnant! It was a surprise just because we didn't anticipate it happening so quickly.  I didn't even know what to say to Chad.  I just showed him the positive test.  He got the biggest smile on his face and just hugged me and I started laughing.  We found out right before we went to California so we were able to share the news with our families.  We kept the "Circle of Knowing" very small at first since we hadn't even seen the doctor yet to confirm that everything was okay.  To tell our parents we made them gift bags with baby safety devices, onsies, and bottles.  They were all very excited too.  After getting back home and seeing the doctor, along with two ultrasounds showing that everything was going well, we felt that we could share the news with everyone else.  

Us with our 8 week ultrasound
Since then we've been pretty much in full baby mode.  Chad has been doing extensive research on the safety information and product reviews on child seats, strollers, and more.  We registered at Target and Babies R' Us. The biggest issue that we have come across with registering is that we aren't going to find out whether we are having a boy or a girl.  It is very difficult to find gender neutral things to put on our registry.  We've decided that green is our color of choice though.  There are so many things to think of.  Which kind of pack n' play?  Do we want a changing table or a dress/changer that can be used later?  Get a regular stroller or a jogger that's more versatile?  Will I strictly breastfeed or supplement with formula?  Can we use cloth diapers to cut our disposable costs?  Where is the best place to purchase cloth diapers?  Luckily, we've had a lot of help from family and friends to help us with a lot of these questions.  We've also started on our stockpile of diapers and wipes.  One thing at a time.  Slowly things are coming together and we are confident that we can get all of this done and mentally prepare ourselves before our child arrives.  

11 weeks!
The timing is going to be a bit off though.  On the one hand, this will be almost perfect for me working.  I'm due at the very end of May and by the time school starts back up I'll be ready to return to work and the baby will be old enough to go into childcare.  The first problem with the timing of our child's birth is that Chad, most likely, will be at sea when the baby is born.  Also, since school will not have ended yet, my mom will not be able to be here for the baby's birth either.  However we are fortunate in that we have other family and friends who can be here with me for that time frame.  We are trusting that God is going to take care of us no matter what through this exciting and stressful time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What we've learned on patrol

Over the course of our navy time I have learned a few things.  I have learned that the navy will do what it wants with my husband.  I have learned that my plans will change and that I can do little about it.  I have learned that my husband will be removed from me for months at a time with little to no communication between us.  I have also learned that Chad and I have an amazing marriage.  I have learned that distance, emails once a month, and not being able to hear his voice aren't enough to hurt our commitment to each other.  I have learned that through patrols we can grow as children of God and as spouses to each other.

Chad left shortly after we arrived in Washington.  We had just received our belongings from the moving company.  The whole house was in boxes and we were scrambling just to get him packed and on the boat for our first patrol.  It all happened so fast, we didn't really have time to realize what was happening.  Then Chad was gone.

For the first few weeks I unpacked the house and put it together.  It's odd, putting together a house for you and your spouse by yourself.  Where should I put his things?  Is there anything I can get rid of?  Luckily, in a couple of emails Chad was able to let me know what he wanted done with some of the items I was having a lot of trouble with.  The whole time before he left I kept joking with him that I was going to put things in crazy spots just to confuse him when he got home.  Things like coffee cups in the bathroom and linens in the kitchen.  Of course I didn't though.  It'd be too confusing for me!  Eventually the house came together.  I even got the spare room ready so that we could have company over the summer.  Then I got to start in on the yard.  Vegetables were planted in May and are just now starting to produce fruit.  Flowers and herbs were put in the back yard.  We are very fortunate to have a neighbor with a lawn mower that they are willing to loan us now and then so that we can keep up on the yard work.

I have been very fortunate to also meet a lot of good women during this patrol.  When I arrived I had several ladies make contact with me to help me with the transition.  They'd check in and see how I was doing with Chad being gone.  There are all kinds of navy wives.  Just like there are all kinds of civilian wives.  But I've been very fortunate to make friends with the navy wives who love their husbands like I love Chad.  These ladies made me feel welcome and gave me company when I missed Chad the most.  It's hard to miss your husband.  To not hear his voice, see his face, hold his hand, or kiss him for months.  When you are at home by yourself you can feel like you are the only person in the world going through this.  The only one who hurts like you do.  I would find myself sliding down that path so many times.  I thank God that he placed those women in my life, because when I was lonely and hurting I knew I could call them.  I also knew, that they felt exactly like I did.  There's something comforting in knowing that I was one of dozens of wives in this situation.  That I wasn't alone, and that there were ladies who I could talk to, who understood what I was feeling and who needed support just as badly as I did.  It also meant that I had someone to celebrate with too.  When we'd get emails, text messages would race between us so that we would all run to check our inboxes.  When a very precious phone call came in we were able to share that.  Finally, when homecoming came, we were all able to stand there together on that pier and share in each other's joy at being reunited with the men we had missed for so long.  Community is everything here.  It's how we make it through.

This was a hard patrol for Chad and I.  Not only was it our first, but it was long, and it was quiet.  For a boomer (ballistic missile submarine) patrols are generally less than 90 days.  Ours was longer.  Granted, we are very lucky that it isn't the length of carrier or fast-attack submarine deployments, which can be 6 months to a year.  But what makes ours seem so long is the communication.  All we have is email.  All we have is email when they are not on alert.  This patrol had unusually long periods of alert time.  That means that Chad would receive my emails pretty regularly, but I didn't receive his.  They went into a "holding tank" while the boat was on alert and I would only receive them when they went off of alert...which ended up being every 4 to 5 weeks.  Four weeks without a word from my husband.  How was he doing?  Did he have any questions from me?  Is there anything he would like in the mail (which happened twice)?  I didn't know.  Oh the sweet relief it was every time the emails went through.  Little things become very precious.  Here's the amazing thing to me though.  I feel like Chad and I got closer to one another in a way through all of this.  Since communication was so limited and precious, we used them to the best of our abilities.  Building each other up, praying for each other, and sharing our lives.  We still have so much to catch up on, but at least we weren't completely in that dark the whole time.

Adversity comes to everyone.  Hard times, and struggles.  It's easy to give up or to say it's too hard and that we don't have to deal with it.  But it's worth it.  I know that Chad and I have plenty of hard times ahead of us.  We have almost 4 years left in the navy, and the rest of our lives after that.  But on this patrol I learned that we can make our marriage stronger when we have hard times.  I've learned to appreciate him more when he's here.  I've also learned who my support system is and who I can rely on.  We are both stronger, better people after  it all.  That was worth fighting for.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chat Schwartz - According to Us

So, I'm having a ridiculous time trying to embed a slideshow right now.  I don't know what I did, but I messed it waaaay up.  So this is how I can actually share photos right now.  Blah, I'll figure it out later.

Getting back to the world...

So! I'm going to try to get back into the blogging world to keep people up to date.  In other words ... I need another thing to keep me busy :-)

In late March, Chad finished qualifying for his program.  We pretty much spent the month of April traveling.  First, we went to Boston, which was awesome!! Thank you Nate and Casie for letting us crash at your place and for showing us around Boston.  Mainly, for showing us really good food, like the Gas Lamp Bistro/Cafe, whatever it was, and Mike's Pastry.  We loved it!  After Boston, we needed to get ready to be packed by the navy (thank you God that we had this option) and moved to Washington state.

We drove ourselves across the country, which for the most part was pretty fun.  For fun, we decided to call it "Adventures with Yoda".  We encountered severe thunderstorms from Georgia to Louisiana.  Since we were driving with a load of stuff in the bed of the truck we were thankful that we had a tarp...which we destroyed over the course of the next few days.  Ripped right down the middle with the eyelets ripped out from flapping in the wind.  We were incredibly fortunate to be invited by our very good friends the Darlings (no joke, that's their name!) to stay the night with them in the Dallas area one night. After Dallas, we did have a bit of trouble with our transmission from West Texas to California.  Something was going on where it wouldn't shift into overdrive, but we luckily seem to have resolved  the issue since then.  After 4 and a half days of driving we finally arrived in California.  For a week we were able to visit with family, catch up with friends, attend The Well, which we have truly missed.

After making the final leg up to Washington Chad and I finally signed the lease on our new home.  We are in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 900 square foot apartment, with a garage, and a yard.  Our things were delivered to us a week later, after a weekend diversion where I went to Lansing, MI to see my best friend graduate from Michigan State with her DOCTORATE IN VET MED!!! I'm so proud of her.  Back to the apartment.  I've been unpacking our things for a little more than a week now and I'm almost done.  It's getting a little difficult to find where to put things since we are downsizing by 300-400 square feet, but it's been a good opportunity for me to sort through our things and make a fresh start of it.


Chad has checked in with his boat, the USS Nebraska, and met his crew.  Everything that we have learned about this boat and this crew makes us very optimistic and excited about our time here.  The wives have been super welcoming to me and I've been enjoying learning about what the area has to offer.  We are looking forward to sharing our new adventures with everyone!