Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What my breast pump says to me

"Too tired" "So much" "Red chair" "Win more" "Go to sleep" "Eat peas"

For three years - off and on - I have listened to the hum of my breast pump. I swear it speaks. When I first started using it with baby number one, my husband and I looked at each other and almost simultaneously noted how the jolting hum of the machine seemed to be talking to us. Each one us was certain the other person was hearing the same phrase, so we both called out. Me: "it's so cold." Him: "you are green." Okay...maybe we weren't hearing the same thing, but still, this thing talks.


For the next three years - I would allow myself to hear phrases from that trusty mechanical partner of mine. They were sometimes nonsensical. However, I also saw them as a sort of Rorschach inkblot test. My inner thoughts and/or personality coming through what I heard. Phrases like: "too tired" "so much" were recurring.

So much. It's how I often felt when pumping. As I've blogged about several times in the past, I had loads of breastfeeding problems. I sought lots of help and found varying degrees of solutions for each child. But for both of my children, I relied heavily on my breast pump. Emme has only taken it straight from the tap probably a handful of times in her life. Besides a couple times using donor milk and formula in her first month, we were able to get to about 10 months before I needed to supplement.


It was a stressful process, but something I felt passionately about. This isn't a "you should breastfeed" blog. I believe you have to do what's right for you and your child.

And here we are. Emme just turned a year. We've hit our goal (by the way, more power to you if your goal is longer!!)

I'm so ready to be done for so many reasons. Such as:

I'm sick of feeling like I'm physically going to burst.


I'm sick of having to lug so much stuff to work.

I'm sick of having to figure out the logistics of things. Like, how do you breast pump while covering the total solar eclipse in rural Nebraska? (Find a news van, bring a sheet, voila. See pic. Not pictured: thousands of people within feet of this news van.)


I'm sick of getting so thirsty (that's a weird one I realize but while writing this I'm parched in a way only a breastfeeding mother understands. Perhaps marathon runners understand it too, but I have no knowledge of that).

But as I prepare to say good bye to those small headaches, I find myself thinking this:

I will miss knowing my baby eats because of me - and eats really good-for-her stuff.

I will miss feeling a connection that has helped me overcome my working mom guilt.

I will miss my quiet moments to myself when I can hear the funny phrases conjured by my brain and spouted by a pump.

I will miss what this symbolizes - the baby phase.

I often get annoyed with the blogs that remind us how short this season of life is (I mean, I know it is, but I'm still tired!), yet here I am thinking and feeling just that. We expect Emme to be our last baby. So with every first we watch her do, in some ways we witness a last.

My last day using my pump. I never thought that would be emotional.

Who knows what it'll say. "Worth it." "Next phase." "Growing up." "Good job."

Good job.

Yep. I deserve to let myself hear those words. I'm guessing there is a reason today that you do too.

Monday, October 23, 2017

I started my day wearing purple and a smile...

Sometimes...okay...most times...I dread getting ready for work. I wish I could wear sweatpants and a hat. Thursday, I remembered most of my guesswork would be gone. I would wear purple.

I received an email last week asking that I wear purple to show support for Domestic Assault Awareness. Sure thing! I'll wear purple. 

I put it on. I put on a smile. I went to work.



Then I rewatched a story I did that week about a woman who says she was assaulted by her husband. A local doctor is organizing a bra drive to support women like her who have sought refuge at an area shelter. 

My smile faded a bit thinking about that woman's story, but yet it remained. After all, people are trying to make a difference. 

I logged into Facebook and saw a new "me too" post. A former coworker described her early days working in TV and how an executive tried to kiss her. I thought about how I was fortunate, I've worked with some great guys. Then I thought about posting something on social media and wondered how many inappropriate comments strangers would make. It's part of my job to connect with our audience, and I love doing that. I do not love that a small number of men I've never met find it acceptable and appropriate to publicly step over a line. There are compliments and then there are comments about body parts that really should not be made. Never. Ever. There are compliments and then there are comments about how happy someone would make me and how he wishes he were my husband. Not okay. I'm losing my smile.  

Then I heard the name Weinstein blaring from a TV in the newsroom. I'm not even sure what's new today, but the allegations just. keep. coming. (Bravo, ladies, for coming forward). I think I actually "grrrr-ed" at my desk. Smile rapidly fading. 

We then carried a live news conference about a reported rape in town. A woman was sleeping when she says a man came into her home and sexually assaulted her. The sheriff said he was in her home for more than an hour and was armed with a gun. 

I'm pissed. 

I realize some of these are domestic violence and some are sexual assault. There are differences. All need to stop. 

Enough. 

I will wear purple. I will like your "me too" post, and I will work to cover stories that raise awareness because it's important that this conversation doesn't become silenced like victims often are. 

But what else? 

I will compliment the men I know who cannot imagine treating a woman in any of these ways. 

I will teach my children that some "jokes" are not okay and truthfully, they just aren't funny. They are not appropriate. Ever. If you're in that locker room, change the conversation. 

I will teach my children that no one is allowed to quiet them when it comes to respect and safety. Never lose your voice. Don't let anyone take it. 

What else? 

I don't know. But I'll keep thinking, and I welcome your thoughts. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

HOME-aha

What a fun way to start our marriage. An unknown place. An adventure. I mean, we can always move in a few years, what's a few years?

As I recently celebrated five years living in Omaha and working at KMTV, these conversations from years ago flooded back into my head. My husband and I got married, went on a two-week, kick-booty honeymoon, worked a week in Minnesota, then spent a week or so moving and getting settled in Omaha. It was a whirlwind. I can't believe that was five years ago.





A lot has happened. There were tough times. But there have been way more wonderful moments. In this city we did not know, we have found a home. And our little family blossomed as we added a dog and two children.







Thank you!

To everyone who has been kind to my family, to everyone who has watched the news, to everyone who has dropped me a line on social media, to everyone who has said hi when we're out and about, to everyone who wished me well when I had my babies. Thank you.

There has been so much kindness.

I sometimes hear people talk about anchors and reporters and say, "oh, they're not from here." As if to say, they don't get it. It's true I'm not from here. I wasn't born and raised here. I even - gasp - went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But, my children were both born here. They know no other home. That makes me incredibly interested in everything going on in this wonderful community. And there are a lot of wonderful things going on here.

I am amazed by the generosity of this city. My job allows me the unique opportunity to be involved with many charitable organizations, and I am always wowed by how giving people are. It's incredible and uniquely Omaha.


We may have come to this unknown place with the caveat in our heads, "we can always move in a few years," but a few years have come and gone, and after recently buying a home that we love, we're here. I wasn't born here. I wasn't raised here. I choose to make this my home because of so many of you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.

Yes, I know the title of this blog is incorrectly plagiarizing a very well known phrase. I promise, it's intentional.

"How do you deal with the bad news?" It's one of those questions, we TV folks get asked often. And it's a really valid question. Thankfully, I work at a place that understands viewers want to watch more than the bad news, but still, we do cover tragic things that happen. 

But the story, hopefully, does not stop there.

I'm reminded by a phrase that often pops up in social media feeds after terrible tragedies. It's attributed to a man who could bring peace to children with the calm of his voice and the flip of his shoe. Mr. Rogers. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Tonight as I sit and prepare for the 10 p.m. newscast, I'm reading a report filed by reporter Maya Saenz and photojournalist Kevin Rempe. They went to a home in Farragut, Iowa that is considered unlivable because of a tornado that tore through this afternoon.


The family is okay. It's been just hours since this happened, and yet the report says, "after the storm, came the help..from neighbors, friends, relatives." People heard a family was in need and they came calling.

Look for the helpers.

Sometimes we cover news about the worst of times, but even then, there are glimpses of the best of human nature.


(photos and video courtesy Maya Saenz)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

You would've liked this life.

Dear Dad (or should I say Grandpa, Mom has now taken on the title Grannie from virtually all of us),

I miss you.

Just this week, Jack, my oldest, has been spouting out that phrase nonstop. Maybe he knows those words are swirling in mama's brain. I'm not a big anniversary person, but still, every year, when June 22nd rolls around, I remember what I wish were not true.

I wish June 22, 2004 never happened. I wish you were still here. I know you wish you were here too.

It's been 13 years.

You have five grandchildren you never met. You have a daughter-in-law. You have a son-in-law. You have people who love you even though they only know of you.

Listing all of them makes me a bit angry. I suppose the "it's not fair" feelings have not fully subsided more than a decade later.

I wish you could hear Maya sing, Clara laugh, Etta squeal.

I wish you could see Jack give his cynical stare he gets from me which means he gets from you. Emme's smile. I wish you could see that.

I can't tell where my selfishness ends and empathy begins. I think they've become one. I grieve for my loss, but more than that, I grieve for you, and what you're missing. You would love being a grandpa.

Last Christmas, Maya (she's 10) wrote about what she wanted. She said she wanted her daddy to be able to spend time with his daddy again. I say that not to make you sad, but to show you how much you're still a part of us.

My kids will grow up knowing that a good book should be read outside when the weather is nice. That a strong work ethic will get you far, but make the most of your family time. Summer is meant for baseball and grilling out. Never skimp on a good trip. Expand your mind at museums and concerts. And shower children with love. They should never question the love.

Yep. You're here.

If the sign of a life well lived is the mark you make on others, then you succeeded.

It's just...I miss you.

It's a phrase a two-year-old can say clearly. At 36, though, I can't fully explain to him the depth of those words. And as a mom, I hope he doesn't have to really feel their meaning for a very long time.

I love you, Daddy,

Jenny


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The skies certainly are friendly

Okay...how many bottles do I need? Swim suits. Can't forget swim suits. Milk. Frozen milk. Shoot...is there a limit? Gotta Google TSA frozen breast milk. We're all good. Thank you, mothers before me! I need ice packs. I can't do this. Okay, I'll bring the stroller...and the car seat. Shoot, I totally forgot socks. I can't do this alone. Did my breast pump get bigger? Emme needs a jacket. Jack needs a hat. Mittens? How am I going to do this?

My inner monologue while packing for a recent trip likely was not a model in optimistic thinking. Half empty. No, that's not exactly right. My glass was feeling like it had sprung a leak. A slow leak, but I couldn't find it. And how could I patch it without finding it? Yep, that's a much better analogy.

Flying with a child is a daunting task. Some of you are likely rolling your eyes, saying been there, done that. In fact, I do it often. It's not that bad. Or maybe you're thinking, stop with your First World problems, I'd love to fly away right about now. Points taken.

But even though my brain knows all that stuff, I was stressed.

On our way to our destination, my husband and I had to fly on different days. He took Jack and I took Emme. I had a lot of stuff. My mother-in-law is a flight attendant and was flying out that day too so she was actually able to help me to the gate. Life seemed doable. I mean I still looked like a hot mess and felt like I was leaving a trail of bread crumbs (if bread crumbs were personal, baby items) throughout the airport.


Then she had to leave. I found myself trying to move a jogging stroller through a small space while carrying multiple bags. I was still okay. But Emme wanted to be held. So I did. A nice woman who was impeccably dressed (I was jealous in my sloppiness) asked me how old she was and commented about flying with her own child. It was sweet to know she was in the club.

Then I got to the bottom of the jet bridge. How was I going to remove the car seat (which requires two hands) while also holding Emme. Sure I could put her back in the seat, listen to her cry, then remove the seat, then breakdown the stroller. That's what I was all ready to do when two people came to my aid. An older man started trying to help with the stroller which was so sweet even though he didn't entirely understand how the darn thing worked - I can relate. And then that woman who had the clothes of a businesswoman but the eyes of a mom, looked at me and put her arms out. "If you don't mind," I said as I handed her my little girl and quickly got everything situated.

Before I had children I don't know if I was always as kind and aware of that mother quietly trying to hold everything together. I should have been. I am now.

While preparing for the trip, I had planned to do it all myself. I forgot the x factor. We don't live in this world alone. Sometimes we just have to open our eyes and receive the goodness around us.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Eye on the prize, mamas

"Jack's bowls!" Yes, buddy, those are your bowls. "Jack's cups." Uh-huh, yep. I'm slowly loading the dishwasher and watching Jack stack up the dirty dishes already loaded. My tired brain is watching him undo my work, but it takes me a moment to realize that I am putting dishes in and he is essentially taking them out.

I move into the living room and pick up some toys while he is coloring at the table. Satisfied with the fact I can again see the floor I walk out, go to the bathroom, return to the living room and stand in complete awe of the number of toys scattered on the floor, the couch, the fireplace. But I left the room for about one minute, I think to myself. He's back at the table with his Lightning McQueen toy.

This is motherhood.

I'm constantly cleaning, picking up, coaching, teaching and often times I feel like my words and actions are unnoticed or instantaneously undone.

Then I remind my tired brain, eye on the prize. I'm not trying to win the award for fastest dishwasher loader or cleanest house keeper.

I think back to the dishwasher. Jack was putting the three stackable bowls in correct order by size. He's learning. I wasn't there to witness his toy-throwing tornado event, but I have before, and typically it involves him dumping out toys because he's in search of something specific. There's something he would like, and he has taught himself how to get it. It's a messy process, but it's an accomplishment.

And I look over to my buddy, and he is smiling.

That.

That is my prize.

I am trying to raise good, caring, thoughtful people.

No trophy. No finish line. Just life. Exhausting, beautiful life.

To all the moms out there, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY.



(pro newborn photos by camithompsonphotography.com)