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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mom of the Month - Nicole Burke!

Now, as the mommy blogger that I am, I KNOW a great mom when I see one. And quite frankly, THIS is a GREAT mom! Nicole Burke has everything, in my opinion, to be an awesome mother. She has perseverance (she's overcome some tough stuff like PPD); she appears to laugh daily - at herself, at her circumstances, and at the world around her, all in good fun; and she doesn't give up. She stays strong for her girls. She takes awesome pictures, too, just throwing that in there. 

Really, I've admired Nicole for several years now, watching her go through the ups and downs of motherhood. You all know that I strive to be as real as possible with this blog, and Nicole epitomizes what it means to be REAL, honest, forthcoming as a mother. She tells it like it is, and I greatly admire that. 

Because she's going to read this and so are many other women, I want to spell it out: Nicole, YOU are enough. You are a good mother. You are NOT failing. You did not fail back then and you aren't now. Even if the TV is on. Even if you raise your voice. Even if you hate some moments in your day. You are enough. 

Congrats to Nicole Burke for being our July Mom of the Month! I forget who nominated her, but I'm grateful that they did, I know it's well-deserved. 

Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your story. It's inspiring, hilarious, and oh-so-real. Love it. 

All images from Nicole Burke

1. Describe your children in 3-5 words.  
cora: stubborn, adorable, independent, funny, charismatic
olive: precious, gassy, adorable, needy, new

2. When were your children born and where?
cora: sept 18, 2011 at 11:15pm at newton-wellesley hospital in newton, ma
olive: may 5, 2014 at 1:40pm at catholic medical center in manchester, nh

3. How would you describe your pregnancies?
with cora: easy.  I was super active (and 3 years younger).  I had food aversion in the beginning and then I was fine.  I even continued cycling/spinning the entire pregnancy.  I completed a 1 hour spin class the Wed before I had her on a Sunday.  But, things did get difficult toward the end- she arrived 10 days late.

with olive: really hard.  I was not active at all (and older).  I had food aversion for almost the first half of the pregnancy.  I was really sore and tired.  My pelvis ached and I winced when I would try to move in bed.  I developed gestational diabetes and had to test my sugars 4x a day and carefully monitor my diet.  Olive was a scheduled c-section 5 days before her due date.

4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
impatient, patient, obsessed (with them), anxious and madlyinlove (like how I turned that last one into one word?)

5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you?
loving, fun, reasonable, fair, patient, understanding, non-judgmental, supportive, encouraging

6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?With Cora, I've raised an independent and adventurous little creature.  Honestly, I think it's mostly just in the genes and not much I actually "did", but, I've kept her alive, fed and clean.  She has manners (most of the time), eats pretty well (for the most part) and has a great relationship with my sister (auntie!), my niece (her cousin amelia) and my parents (nana and papa!).  It was and still is important to me for my children to have strong bonds with my family members. 
I'm proud that after a year of being at home with her I was brave enough to put her in daycare.  She has thrived in school and I have thoroughly enjoyed being back in the working world.  I know I'm a better mom when I'm working - it's good for me and it makes me happy.  In turn, this helps make me a better mom.

With Olive, I'm proud of the fact that I let myself go on medication immediately after her birth.  This has allowed me to be (fairly) mentally healthy.  I felt my PPD issues at the end of my pregnancy and decided getting on meds right away would be best for me and; therefore, for my children.  It was the right choice.  I'm proud of exclusively nursing olive all of this time (7 weeks! gah!)  It has been incredibly hard and challenging - but, I'm pretty stubborn and hard on myself so I haven't given up.
I'm proud that, overall, I'm a pretty good mom.  I love my children dearly.  Sure, they can drive me totally insane and make me want to lock myself in my air conditioned car and cry, but they are pretty darn awesome.  

I'm also proud to say that I think I can be a pretty good support to other moms.  I remember being brand new and scared and tired and uncertain about everything.  During those times other, more experienced, Moms were able to lend me tales about their experiences.  If I can help ease another mother, then I'm all about it.

7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?All of them. No seriously, it's all super hard.  Like, all of it.  

It's hard to love other human beings so much that it hurts.  It's difficult to always fear their well-being.  It's hard having two children under 3 who don't sleep through the night.  It's hard to raise gentle and kind people when I myself and not very soft-spoken (if you know me you know that I'm probably putting this lightly).  

It's hard to feed them well.  It's hard to take them outside and keep them busy ALL.DAY.LONG.  It's hard to just not play the tv for 8 hours straight (yeah, I've done this).  

It's hard taking care of yourself when you have two very needy little people always hanging off of you.  It's hard to go back to work and leave them in the hands of someone else.  

It's hard to eat healthy or work out when you're both exhausted and strapped for time.  It's hard having a husband who works tons (like 60 - 70 hours) per week.  And, it's hard not having a lot of friends around to help keep me sane (my sanity is a benefit to my children).  

As they say, a sane mommy is a good mommy.  What, no one says this?  Okay, then I'm going to coin that phrase - it'll catch on. Just you wait.
8. What is your favorite baby product(s) that makes your mom job easier?
1. nipple shield 
2. electric breast pump
3. rock n' play
4. pacifiers
5. aden + anais swaddle blankets
6. ipad (with Cora.  Yes, she uses it. Yay screen time!---relax, I'm kidding. Kind of.)

9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother?
Oh man, you're catching me at an interesting time.  I have a very spirited 2yr-going-on-15-year-old and a 7 week old.  I can give advice - not sure I can take it.  So, here goes.  

dear new mom,

welcome to motherhood.  kind of awesome, isn't it?  it also kinda sucks at times.  and that's okay.  things are never going to be perfect - even if your little one is.  and, it's okay to say that mothering sucks.  it's okay to truly believe it.  because, it does at times.  

it sucks when you're exhausted.  it sucks when you don't know how to help your screaming little child -- 'what!? what do you want!?'  it's okay to need a break.  it's okay to walk away (as long as the child isn't in a bumbo on a counter).  it's okay to cry. whenever and wherever you need to.  this sh*t is hard.  really hard.  

breastfeeding is hard. formula feeding is hard.  breast feed your baby.  formula feed your baby.  just feed your baby and you're doing the right thing.  

so yes, this mothering thing is hard.  you're going to fight with your partner.  you're going to wonder if you'll ever shower again or brush your teeth more than once a day.  you might even wonder if you made the right choice.  you'll be praying for sleep and a break.  maybe even wishing you could just pop your babe back in your belly so you can take a nap.  

yes, it'll be hard.  but, it's also amazing.  it's the most miraculous and amazing thing in the world.  i don't even care how cheesy that sounds because you know what? it's true.  you have just been given a life - a little precious and very dependent being to care for around the clock.  you are responsible for keeping this little life thriving - and while that's incredibly overwhelming - it's also incredibly awesome.  

enjoy every snuggle, every cuddle, every inhale of sweet baby breath, every sniff and every kiss.  hold your baby as much as you damn well please.  ignore nay-sayers.  revel in these moments.  they are quick and fleeting even if you feel like you're drowning now.  hug your baby tight, close your eyes and breathe in their sweetness.  you deserve it.

another tired mama

that's what i would say.

10. What is a typical day like for you?
right now I'm on maternity leave so I wouldn't say this is typical as soon (gahhh!!) I'll be back to work.  Cora is in school 3 days a week (instead of 5) while I'm on leave.  She needs the consistency and loves school so it made sense to keep her in.  Our typical days are that nothing is a given -- will Cora eat breakfast?  Will she scream?  Will she refuse eggs AGAIN?  Will Olive nurse and nap?  Will Cora stay on our side of the yard so I can see her? (NO!) Will Olive scream randomly and make me insane? (most likely).  

Our absolutes each day are that we all eat, we all smile, we all cry (probably) we all love each other and hopefully - we bathe.

11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object?
To me "things to do" immediately resonates as "where would you travel?" So here goes..

1. Ireland - my husband's entire family is there.  He deserves to go - often - with his children (and me!) in tow.  Sadly, it's really freaking expensive.
2. Disneyworld
3. Italy
4. Hawaii
5. a beach or lake house every summer - that'd be awesome.

I want to take them to beautiful and fun places.. have adventures. Build memories.  Create traditions.

12. What are your favorite SUMMER time activities to do with your kids?
Splash pad (sprinklers at a local playground), pool time, etc.  We haven't frequented the beach much as I don't live near one (wahhhh!) and now this summer olive is too young to tow to the beach. (at least in my opinion.)

13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine.
I feel failures often.  When Cora doesn't listen I think  - I failed.  Then I remember she's just an insane 2 yr old who would probably still ignore me even if I did everything "right" and "perfectly".  

But deep down, I still worry a bit.  Do I discipline as effectively and consistently as I could/should be?  Did I fail because I stopped pumping exclusively at around 9 months (with Cora)?  I still look back and think I screwed up.  She was my first baby - maybe I swaddled too tightly, obsessed over her feedings, was too strict and regimented in her schedule.  I really worry about these things.  But, I also know that I was suffering with PPD/PPOCD/PPAnxiety (whatever) and I was trying to keep her alive - literally.  And, trying to keep myself going.  So, the fact that she's alive and (despite moments of toddler crazyness) she's awesome.  Therefore, I guess I didn't fail.

next question, please.

14. What is it like now having a second child? What are the 3 hardest parts about this transition?
Having a second child is hard. SO FREAKING HARD.  I thought just Cora was hard.  No.  Two children is hard.  Really, really hard.  One fusses and needs me  - then the other.  Two mouths to feed (at different times!), two children who need naps and baths and bedtime.  Two different sets of schedules. 

You want only 3 hardest parts of the transition.. okay, I'll try:
1. Cora can't have me whenever and wherever she wants.  This is emotionally hard.  I want to be able to stop, drop and give to her.  But, I can't.  Breaks my heart.
2. Meal making.  Impossible with a fussy infant.  I lived off cookies for about a month.
3. Play and "fun time".  Olive is a little lump.  Yes, a cute and sweet one, but still a little lump at that.  Everything Cora needs and wants to do is difficult with Olive.  I can't be in direct sun, I worry about the heat and the bugs.  It's hard to give Cora the play/activity time she needs and still keep Olive safe.  Ugh!

15. Anything else you want to add?
I guess I just want to say that being a mom is no joke.  I mean, it is as times, but it's a really serious job.  I mean, hello, we are responsible for keeping other humans alive.  That's crazy!  We are the lucky ones who get to grow a baby and give birth to it (some of us).  To (potentially) feed it with milk our bodies make (come on, how crazy is that?!) and love on, snuggle and kiss these little tiny beings.  It's pretty freaking awesome.  

Yes, although many moments are really hard and tiring and frustrating.... and some days we fall into a lump on the couch or in bed... we wouldn't change a damn thing.  Because we know just how lucky we are - lucky even after the puking, boogers, poop and more.  We're lucky to be called Mom.

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