Nursery Update

It sure has taken me forever but life can be distracting sometimes! I’m not done decorating the nursery but one wall is finally finished!

IMG_6106I made the banner (with some help from Grammy) and custom ordered the decal. I love it! The wall, besides being cute, is so full of meaning for us. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I also finished one project with Charlie’s clothes. Well, actually I didn’t do it personally, but sent some of his clothes to a special woman who makes special things with them:

IMG_6196These bears were ready for us on Christmas eve! Which was perfect because we wanted them to be Christmas presents to ourselves, Hailee, Cami, the grandmas, and our old nanny, Mel. I remember in the earlier days after losing Charlie I went into his nursery and pulled out his clothes one by one and just sobbed. I remember how sad it was that they were just limp, lifeless clothes. I was so desperate to hold him in some form that I put one of his onesies on my original Charlie bear and slept with the bear like that for awhile. Now that special onesie has been lovingly made into the shape of a bear that I can squeeze and hold and love on! These bears are such a treasure and each outfit was chosen for a specific reason with a specific memory attached! Thank you Heidi Hamilton for the idea!

I have more Charlie clothes and another project in mind for them, but that will come in time. Life is sure busy, and I am grateful to be in a space where I want to be more present in it with my little family.

Runner’s high?

I promise this blog won’t become a running blog or a “Let me tell you how cool I am by bragging about how far I ran!.” I try not to be a braggart (cool word huh? I learned it by first learning the Spanish word: fanfarrona and translating it to English). But since I’m training for something I’ve never done before and pushing myself toward new goals, I want to talk about my experience.

This weekend I ran farther than my two feet have ever run in one jogging episode: over 7 miles. For many people out there, especially runners, this is cake. But for me it felt like a big accomplishment! It was super cool to hear the little Australian Accented Strava Voice tell me through my ear bud, “7 miles.”

What was especially cool about this run was I think I might have experienced, for the first time ever, a runners high. Now I’m not sure because I’ve never experienced a runner’s high before. I have felt enjoyment and accomplishment and fun from running but never what I would describe as a high. But during this run this Saturday, between miles 3.5  and 5.5, I suddenly felt overwhelmingly HAPPY! This sounds so cheesy but it felt like my little heart was singing, “I feel Happy!” by Pharrell Williams. I even got goosebumps on my arms. Is that a runner’s high?

I guess I’m doubting it because after mile point 5.5 running got hard again and I felt much less happy. It became tongue wagging, feet heavy, “how much longer?” feeling. Aren’t runner’s highs supposed to last? Like all day?

Oh well, whatever it was, it was a really great feeling. I was running one of my favorite roads; the road that takes me here:

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listening to my favorite empowering songs, and the sun was shining and with our bizarrely warm weather here in February, I was running in short sleeves, and it was pleasantly breezy, and just kind of perfect.

I’m super glad I had that experience because it makes me want to keep running. Before this experience I was wondering when running would get any easier? Or less painful?

But it’s super cool to feel some progress. Even if it’s “small.” Like now running three miles is now super easy for me, where not that long ago it was actually really hard. And I’ve broken my distance record and run seven miles! Those feel like cool little milestones to anchor me as I keep up this intense (to me) training.

So obviously this entire blog post is about running. What I meant by my first sentence is this blog won’t become all about my training. But it’s nice to be able to share something I’m excited about, so thanks for reading. :)

And then she ran

Or is running…or will run A HALF MARATHON! And by “she” I mean, ME.

Or rather, WE. Chad and I signed up for the Southern Utah Half Marathon in St. George this upcoming April.

I felt hesitant to admit this endeavor on here because I’m afraid I can’t actually do it! Or that I won’t. Or that I’ll get injured. Or that something in my life will derail my training. Announcing that I’m signed up for a half marathon makes me committed. It makes me accountable.

That’s actually why I am writing about it. I want/need to be accountable.

It’s easy for me to say enthusiastically, “Yeah, I’m going to run a half marathon!” when so far my longest run in training for it has been five miles! It’s going to get a lot harder for me! (Open to training advice from fellow runners out there! I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!)

I am not a natural runner. Before graduate school I had never run more than a mile in my life. Before losing Charlie, I had never run more than three consecutive miles. The farthest I’ve ever run in one shot is six miles and I can count on less than one hand the number of times I’ve done that. Sure I did Ragnar last summer but I had some of the easier legs and I practically limped my last leg!

So why would I want to run for about two straight hours? Good question.

Well, here is what I get from running:

*I feel happier

*I feel less anxious

*I feel energized

*It makes me respect and love my body

*It gives me the opportunity to reflect and gives me better clarity

*It quiets me from the chaos of my life and inside my head (it’s a source of meditation for me)

*It can be fun! (especially races)

*I enjoy having goals

*It gets me outside and in nature, which is always therapeutic! (I’m a new fan of winter running! I feel so cool being one of the only ones on the road and it feels awesome sweating and simultaneously feeling snow flurries hit my face)

IMG_5951Here is what I hope for by training for a half marathon:

*I want to be strong and healthy. I feel like running farther than I’ve ever run will help me toward this goal.

*More importantly than being strong, I want to feel strong. I want to know I can do it. That I can convince my body to run 13.1 miles. I want to believe in myself. I want to feel proud of myself

*I want to train myself to push through physical pain, exertion and boredom (mindfulness skills!)

*I want to keep healing and growing stronger emotionally!

*I want to outrun my own Blerch (My Blerch is fear, inadequacy, depression, laziness, and excessive amounts of chocolate) and find the void!

*I want a positive, fun experience both training and in the race with my hubby! I think it’ll be so fun to work toward and accomplish a goal together!

So there you have it.

And my final reason for running a half marathon: Why not?

But please quote me, “I DO NOT want to run a FULL marathon! EVER.”

 

Cami’s heart

Today we showed up at Primary Children’s Hospital for Cami’s echocardiogram. I’ll be brief about the boring details.

*We showed up at 7:15am.

*There was a nurse, a Nurse Practitioner, an IV team, and an ultrasound tech (all were great)

*The IV and “falling asleep” were the hardest parts. Cami was very sad. Our eyes leaked to see her so hurt and sad.

*Sleeping Cami did great during the procedure

IMG_5982*Cami was slow to wake up from sedation because they gave her a little extra medication as she was so agitated and fought the sedation in the beginning.

IMG_5980*She finally woke up and did great! (A little grumpy and groggy and snuggly)

IMG_5979*The conclusion: The doctor came and told us that the echo revealed that CAMI’S HEART IS GREAT! No concerns!!!! The murmurs are “innocent murmurs.” Huzzah! We get to move on with our life!

IMG_5985After lunch Cami was back to her usual happy self, although she was a little tipsy walking around. We prepared ourselves for a groggy, sleepy Cami but she decided today was the day she’d figure out how to crawl out of her crib and not take any nap at all! Here’s to an early bedtime!

Seriously feel SOOO grateful today. Grateful for modern medicine and competent health care professionals. Grateful for their compassion, time, and caring. So grateful our rainbow is healthy and her heart is strong. Feel like we can take a big, much needed, breath of air!

Mindfulness boot camp

The year is already conspiring to give me loads of opportunities to use my new-found, amazing mindfulness skills! HA! The whole point of my theme this year is to get some skills in an area I generally suck at! So, it seems as though the year is conspiring to throw me into a mindfulness boot camp with tasks to confront fear, trauma reminders, doubt, and anxiety. Sounds fun right?

It all started a week ago when I had a follow up appointment with my endocrinologist regarding my Large Thyroid Cyst. It had been bothering me lately as I have begun to be able to feel it when I swallow and it seemed to me that it had gotten bigger. My endocrinologist informed me that my cyst hadn’t gotten any bigger but he went ahead and aspirated it because it was bothering me. After he sucked out an entire syringe full of black fluid (old blood he said) my doctor did an ultrasound of my thyroid. With my cyst completely deflated, he was able to see my thyroid more clearly than he had in previous visits and informed me, quite bluntly, that my thyroid doesn’t look normal. To make a long story short, he ordered a lab to test for Hashimotos disease. The labs came back normal. However, my doctor still isn’t convinced it’s NOT Hashimoto’s but didn’t condescend to my level to really explain his reasoning. But if it’s NOT Hashimoto’s, then I have either a benign nodule or I have thyroid cancer. Good times.

I’ll tell you that threw me for quite a loop for a few days. I totally failed my first few days in mindfulness boot camp. But I did everything I know to take care of myself and try to manage my anxiety. By Monday I was feeling a bit better and I have a plan: Get a second opinion from another doctor…now I just need to find one.

Then this Tuesday happened and my cancer-ruminations immediately disappeared; replaced by something that scares me even more.

What I thought was going to be a routine check-up for Cami ended up being the beginning of something more.

I brought Cami to the pediatrician for her 18-month check-up. During this check-up the doctor listened to her heart for an inordinate amount of time. After listening to her heart he asked me, “Have we talked about her heart murmur before?”

GAH! Heart Murmur?! What?! Another round of boot camp just sucker punched me in the gut.

While my pediatrician tried to be reassuring, he did recommend we see a cardiologist at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Thursday morning we met with a cardiologist a Primary’s and the appointment WAS reassuring and also very NOT reassuring.

They took a chest x-ray of Cami, an EKG, four limb blood pressure readings, and pulse ox. Cami was a champ through all these tests. The cardiologist then came in and listened to Cami’s heart from more angles than I thought possible.

He told Chad and I that Cami has, not one heart murmur, but three. She also has a “click” that can be indicative of a heart valve concern. The X-ray revealed that her heart is slightly enlarged (Top Normal the doctor said) and her EKG was “slightly” abnormal. After telling us these findings, the doctor quickly moved to try to reassure us. Despite these findings, he’s not convinced anything is wrong with Cami.

Cami’s blood pressure was consistent across all four limbs, her pulse ox was 99% and she’s healthy and thriving. Plus, I guess murmurs are kind of a dime a dozen. However, given the findings, the cardiologist referred us for an echo-cardiogram next week to get a better look at Cami’s heart. This is an ultrasound and doesn’t sound like that big of deal…except it is because Cami has to hold completely still for 30 minutes. That’s impossible for an 18-month old so they have to sedate her for the procedure.

Panic and nausea set in at this point. I immediately saw flashbacks of watching a nurse carry three-month-old Charlie away with a mask on his face for his Hydrocile surgery.  I remember how helpless I felt as I waited for him to come out of sedation after his surgery. I remember being so relieved as he cried but distressed that he didn’t eat anything for many many hours later. And even though Charlie seemed to recover great from his surgery…he DIED just over three weeks later. I KNOW correlation is NOT causation but I honestly don’t know how I will handle Cami being sedated and unresponsive. I’m worried it’ll bring flashbacks of even worse memories of Charlie (dead ones). I’m worried Cami won’t wake up.

But we had a pretty great tender mercy today: our cardiologist. When I called to set up an appointment for Cami, I simply asked for the “next available” appointment. The “next available” that fit our schedule set us up with Dr. Mart. Dr. Mart shared, shortly after meeting us, that he has lost two children himself. One of them is buried in the same cemetery as Charlie! Because he quickly learned of our history with losing Charlie (there was a question on the New Patient questionnaire “Had a child die suddenly and unexpectedly?”) and I suspect, given his unique ability to empathize, Dr. Mart went out of his way to reassure us and spent ample time with us, even though he was running about an hour behind schedule and had patients que-ed up and waiting.

I asked Dr. Mart if Cami could die suddenly, the way her brother did, and Dr. Mart reassured us that Cami isn’t at risk of sudden cardiac death as her EKG did not reveal any “rhythmic abnormalities.” He tried to describe her EKG abnormality as a directional abnormality and didn’t seem to be something dangerous or life-threatening. That was reassuring (but the Snuza is going back on!).

Dr. Mart also told us that he was pretty sure nothing was wrong with Cami but he was sending us for the echo-cardiogram just to rule anything out.

Before we left he asked us what other questions we had and he looked at me and said, “I don’t want you leaving, going to your car and crying.” I told him I probably would but that it was ok. In fact, both Chad and I ended up crying in the car. I haven’t seen Chad sob like he did today, in a very very long time.

For families that haven’t lost a child, this event might be mildly anxiety producing. But for us it is straight up GUT-FREEZING-SCARY. It brings up so many memories, so many emotions, and it feels so vulnerable. Dr. Mart acknowledged that he knows, given our history, that statistics aren’t reassuring, but that he’s 99.95% everything is fine with Cami.

Fingers-crossed he’s right.

I’m not liking Mindfullness boot camp so far.

18 months!!!!

IMG_5849This sweet, yummy rainbow is a year and a half today!!! Another milestone we get to celebrate!

I often call Cami my “puppy” because whenever I get home she greets me like an excited puppy: rushing into my arms, hugging me, quickly squirming out of my arms and then grabbing my finger to pull me somewhere she wants me to go.

At 18 months this little girl still doesn’t say a whole lot but she’s building her vocabulary. For example, when she is hungry she says, “Nom nom.” How cute is that?! Her favorite and most ubiquitous word is “Momma!” which of course I love…although I think she uses it to refer to many things besides me. Like, “Momma momma momma” might mean, “Please make me a quesadilla and this time don’t sneak beans and avocado inside.” I think “Momma momma momma” also means, “I love you and think you are the most wonderful person in the whole world!” At least that’s what I choose to believe. :)

Cami also understands quite a bit of what we say to her and responds with enthusiastically shaking her head yes, or no, or doing whatever we prompted her to do. Like if she points to the fridge water dispenser and does her “Nuh? Nuh?” indicating she wants water, I’ll say, “Go get a cup” and she’ll wander to the cup drawer and pick out a cup and mismatched lid, bring it back to me, and patiently await her water.

Cami is still our little eater! She loves cheese but still doesn’t like avocados. She’s also gotten in a bad habit of putting her dinner in her hair when she grows bored of eating. Or she turns her sippy cups upside down and waters her tray, or the floor, with a big grin on her face.

The toddler tantrums have fully bloomed. But they are pretty short lived, not super frequent, and Cami is still a very happy and easily appeased child.

Cami likes coloring, especially on the couch or walls. She loves her baths and trying to wash her own hair and body. She loves waving “bye bye” and “hi” to anyone she she passes. She is super easy to put down at night and is a good little sleeper!

Speaking of sleeping, Chad and I discussed months ago that at 18 months we were finally going to stop using the Snuza to monitor her sleeping. I know in my head that Cami is super out of the SIDS risk zone now and doesn’t need to Snuza, but I love the reassurance the Snuza brings. So I’m writing this in bed with the Snuza on the nightstand beside me still deciding if I’m going to break the habit tonight or not. This is another one of those life-after-loss moments of trying to figure out what I need to do to stay sane vs. not living in fear and choosing to challenge myself. Not easy decisions.

I know people gush about their kids! It’s so easy to do! Especially when my kids are so dang gushable! I feel so grateful to have our rainbow and watch her turn from baby to toddler! I love her chunky thighs, dreamy eyes, and wispy hair. I love how Cami will run so fast it looks as if she’ll fall forward at any moment, but somehow her feet always stay under her. It’s amazing to witness her personality emerge, see her learn and try new things, and just love life! I’m so grateful she’s ours!

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2015 resolutions

I am not one for specific resolutions. However, I like having an overall objective or goal to work toward each year. A theme, per say.

Last year my theme was wellness. At the end of 2014 I reflected on how well I met that goal and I think overall I did a pretty decent job. Of course I can always do better, but I feel pretty healthy and active.

This year I decided my theme will be “consciousness.” What I mean by that, is I want to be more present in my life. I want to be less reactive and more deliberate, proactive, and well, conscious. A synonym for this is mindful. Learning mindfulness skills has been a goal of mine for years. But it’s always felt like too big of a challenge to take on. So why now? I realize my close relationships, including my relationship with myself, are all suffering, because my default setting is reactive and not mindful, nor compassionate.

I hope as I develop more mindfulness skills, I will apply these skills across many fields in my life: my marriage, my children, other family and friends, my work, my health and physical activity, my spirituality, etc. Specifically I really want to focus on my family: Chad, Cami and Hailee. (Thanks for the idea Robin!) While I feel we are overall pretty happy and we make wonderful memories together, often, I feel we are in parenting trenches, and mindlessly living.

I just have to say, marriage is hard and parenting is hard. Perhaps that’s obvious but I don’t think people admit it enough, let alone talk about it enough. I know I don’t talk about my marriage much (hardly ever) for a couple of reasons: 1. To protect our privacy 2. I feel guilty and like I’m the only one struggling (because no one talks about it) so it feels ridiculously vulnerable to admit when things are less-than-perfect and 3. I don’t want others to judge Chad, or me, or our marriage.

I feel like it is more acceptable for parenting to be hard. More people admit parenting struggles than marriage struggles. For example, I’ll give details about my parenting struggles while neglecting details about our marriage struggles. I hate how often Mean Mom comes out. I hate that I find myself yelling at Hailee. I hate that I often feel on the brink of a meltdown. I hate how sometimes I get so mad that I feel like spanking Hailee or smacking her (I never do). I hate how quickly I lose my patience. I really want to be more conscious and present with my family! I want to like myself as a mother and wife!

I think there are things I do well as a mom (e.g. I am very affectionate with my kids and verbalize my love for them frequently. I also try to create fun memories for my kids like hiking a mile up the mountain and sledding the whole way back down with Hailee). But there is a lot I want to improve. And a lot of those aspects about me that I don’t like, are a result of mindlessness; simply reacting.

I’ve realized I can’t get out of the parenting trenches (ie this is just the stage of life where despite our best efforts, it will still be chaotic). So instead I need to be able to be in the trenches AND be the mom/wife I want to be.

So mainly my efforts will be with my family. But I will expand it from there to include other relationships: extended family, friends, my community, and also myself and my relationship with God.

The hard thing about a theme for the year is I don’t necessarily know how this will play out concretely. But I’ll figure that part out as I go. For right now I’m enthusiastic to have something meaningful to work toward!

Happy 2015!

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Meeting Santa 2014

SS_FASHIONPLACE_20141223_000003_PI just love this photo! It makes me grin so hard my cheeks hurt. Tonight Cami met Santa for the first time and her expression says it all. Hailee also found herself quite shy to be on Santa’s lap. So while Hailee’s smile looks forced and as if she is barely tolerating the experience, she is actually just shy to be on “stranger” Santa’s lap. When Santa asked Hailee what she wanted for Christmas, Hailee became so nervous she whispered and the poor man couldn’t hear a word! Good thing she already mailed him her Christmas list!

photo(47)Translation:

Dear Santa, I want a tramp (sorry Hailee, won’t happen this year!); a (Doc McStuffins) walkie talkie, blanket (of the large picnic variety), and a frame with paints (a photo frame she can paint). Love Hailee (with an extra heart).

Love my girls and the magic of Christmas!

Sleep battles

IMG_5664I really look forward to those hours at night, after the kids are in bed, that are mine to do with what I please. Those hours are like gold. But for me, the worst part of the day happens right before I get those few stolen moments to myself: bedtime. Chad and I hate the bedtime routine. Maybe hate is a strong word. Dread is perhaps a better word. And when I say bedtime routine, I’m referring specifically to the bedtime routine for Hailee. Cami’s bedtime routine is super simple and quick: bottle, clean diaper, binky, lovey, crib. No rocking, singing, reading, soothing required. Unless of course I want to. But even then, sometimes Cami will just point at her crib and make her little grunt sound which means, “Put me down now please.”

Hailee’s routine is much more complex and takes more time and effort (and fight). Jammies, brushing teeth, inhaler, getting water, going potty, reading books, saying prayer, and singing two songs while tickling her back. If this goes smoothly it’s not a bad experience. If it goes smoothly, it’s actually an experience I look forward to and enjoy. But most nights Hailee is manipulative and fights going to sleep as well as letting us leave her. She has also gotten in the habit of getting up and coming downstairs multiple times after we have put her to bed. And it’s a constant fight to get her back into bed.

We’ve gotten tired of this fight. As a result, we’ve gotten lazy about doing the bedtime routine with Hailee and she stays up later and later each night. The backlash is a huge meltdown (tears, yelling, on the ground tantrums) when we finally get her into bed. It is obvious each night that we let her stay up too late and we resolve to do better the next day.

Also intrinsic in these bad sleep habits is the fact that we’ve begun to let Hailee fall asleep in our bed. We put her back in her bed when Chad and I come upstairs to bed, but almost guaranteed, each night Hailee wanders back into our bed 1-3 more times. She always gets in on Chad’s side, perhaps because she knows that is where her best chances lie of staying in our bed. Half the time Chad doesn’t wake up to her crawling into bed with him. So it’s not until hours later that he will wake up, realize she is next to him, and take her back to her room.

This week, with Christmas approaching, we have tried to be more consistent about Hailee’s 8pm bedtime and having her fall asleep in her own bed. This result has been rough: tearful, distraught Hailee proclaiming she is “scared” to sleep alone.

Last night I comforted Hailee with tickling her back, singing songs, and saying a prayer. I told Hailee that Heavenly Father and Charlie would come and comfort her but she cried and said, “But they are invisible! I need someone I can see!” As a result I snuggled her until she fell asleep.

Tonight Hailee also professed she was a afraid. I let Chad take the first round and Hailee successfully fell asleep. She woke up about an hour later, however, and was crying for me. I went upstairs and snuggled her in her bed. Hailee and I then proceeded to have a very interesting conversation. First she told me that she said a prayer to Jesus and he comforted her by helping her fall asleep. But now she was awake again. Then she said, “I have a tricky question for you.” She asked me how Jesus knows what prayers come from which humans. Good question Hailee! Then she asked me how she came from being an egg into a human being. And what she looked like before she was an egg. Luckily this talk didn’t lead to the “birds and the bees” talk as  I am certainly unprepared to tackle that subject with my five year old! But this was one of the first conversations where Hailee asked questions I really had to think about before I answered. I look forward to more “tricky” questions from Hailee. After our conversation, Hailee wrapped her arms around me and fell asleep. It required some careful maneuvering to get out of her bed without waking her up. I look forward to getting Hailee’s sleep habits regulated again, but I also treasure these times, as I know all-to-soon she won’t need me, or want me, to snuggle her to sleep.

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Any reader out there who has advice on sleep training for a five year old, I’m happy to hear it! I’m a bit battle-worn at this point and would love to learn from the experience of others.

Hard career choices

I’ve slacked off writing in this blog because I no longer feel like my blog has a cohesive identity. I am guessing that most people follow my blog because it is a “grief” blog. As a result, I don’t hesitate to write grief-related blog posts. But I want to write more about my life in here as well. I know I wrote a post awhile ago, indicating that was my plan…I just haven’t followed through with it much. It’s weird, I almost feel like talking in a public sphere about other parts of my life feels too vulnerable. I tell myself I can share my grief reactions because maybe they will be helpful to someone on a similar journey. But talking about the other parts of my life would really just be for my benefit: to share, document memories, work through struggles and feelings, seek validation and support, and serve no greater purpose than that. I think for that reason I haven’t written many posts outside the grief category. I am going to challenge myself though and share more pieces of me, of us, and our experiences. This is going to be one of those blog posts. And it’s a long one so feel free to stop reading now if you aren’t interested in hearing my mommy/career dilemmas.

So, you may or may not know that I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist currently working part-time at the BYU Counseling and Psychological Services. I enjoy my job a great deal but want to give a little background on my professional journey and aspirations. After I graduated with my degree in 2010, I started working full time at Center for Change, an inpatient and residential facility for those struggling with severe eating disorders. This felt like the perfect fit for me because it has been my desire to specialize in two areas: Eating Disorders and Group Psychotherapy. I was able to pursue both these goals in very meaningful ways while I worked at Center for Change. Not only did I work with eating disorder patients each day, I also ran 7 groups for the center! However, while this job was professionally and personally fulfilling, it was also stressful and challenging. After I had Charlie, I had intentions of returning to work at Center for Change but wanted to see if I could work part-time. Well, fate changed our life drastically when Charlie died.

After Charlie died, I didn’t feel I had the emotional reserves to work in a high stress, intensive environment like Center for Change, even though I loved the work and the population. I honestly felt like I had NOTHING to give and to do work with eating disorder clients in any meaningful kind of way, I felt I needed to have emotional reserves. For this reason, I decided it was not good timing to return to work at Center for Change.

A part-time position became open at the BYU counseling center and former colleagues and friends approached me to see if I was interested. This felt like a serendipitous opportunity.

This was the perfect environment for me at the time. I worked at the counseling center as a graduate student and so the environment was familiar and supportive for me. I also welcomed the opportunity to work with a higher functioning population and knew as a result, that the stress would be significantly less.

So I have been contentedly working at BYU since Fall 2012. It has met my emotional and professional needs and my bosses and colleagues have been incredibly supportive and flexible (e.g. giving me extended maternity leave after having Cami).

As I work there, I still feel I am able to meaningfully pursue my aspirations of developing an expertise in treating eating disorders and group psychotherapy. However, this is on a much lower scale. About 1/3 of my clients present with eating disorder concerns and I run only 1 group (compared to the previous 7). I have been ok with this as again, as I’ve been healing, I’ve needed to work less and with a higher functioning clientele. It has been really beneficial to go home at night and not worry about my clients. I have also felt I’ve been able to strike a good work/home balance as a mom. Also, since I’ve been at the counseling center, I’ve been working with other clinicians to develop an Eating Disorder program where we offer eating disorder specific groups, trainings, consultation meetings, and supervision. I feel valued as a knowledgeable colleague in this area as I was able to present an inservice meeting last month on treating Eating Disorders to the entire counseling center faculty and even a couple health center physicians. I am also presenting a half day workshop at a national conference in February on group work with eating disorder clients.

So overall, I have felt BYU continues to meet my personal needs and career aspirations.

But I ask myself, “Can I really develop an expertise in treating eating disorders and running groups if my job stays the same?” I often feel frustrated at the minimal progress I’m able to help clients make when we are so oversheduled that I am only seeing my clients 1x a month! And running one group each week, while awesome, doesn’t fulfill my group itch or make me feel like I’m making a lot of professional progress in this area.

Last month a job opportunity fell into my lap that seemed so perfect! Center for Change approached me and asked me to help them with their group program at a new Intensive Outpatient Program in Salt Lake City (15 minutes from my house!). They were only asking for three hours of my time and offered generous compensation! This position fit my career aspirations perfectly. It seemed like a no brainer to take this position.

But nothing is a no brainer when you are a working mom. Or a grieving mom.

Working part-time at BYU, while not nearly as stressful as working full time at Center for Change, is still a lot of work. I often feel “at capacity” with my ability to be emotionally present at work AND emotionally present with my kids. Finding that perfect work/home balance is tricky, and I honestly feel like I’ve found it right now. While my professional self wants more responsibility, wants more progression and opportunity, the mom in me, and the grieving mom in me, doesn’t know if I have more to give right now.

On the one hand, this position was only three hours of my time! On the other hand, that is three MORE hours of my time away from home and my kids.

Being a working mom, I face a lot of mommy guilt. Like when I missed Hailee’s Christmas Sing at school last week. I try to prioritize my kids above all else, and I also have to pick and choose. I took work off to volunteer at Hailee’s class Halloween party, but I couldn’t make the Christmas Sing work. And I felt bad about that and was sad I missed it. I am also sad that as of yet, I haven’t been able to volunteer in Hailee’s class, and I feel like I’m the only mom who hasn’t. I also get sad that our caregiver takes Cami to a Little Gym class on the days I work. I’m super glad Cami has that fun time, but jealous I am not there to witness her accomplishments like hanging from bars or walking a balance beam all by herself.

But in the  time I’m home, I feel Hailee and Cami get good quality time with me. Work energizes me and gives me a break from being home. And being home gives me a break from work. It’s a good balance. But I am aware this year, more than ever, that I am not “on top of it” as a mom. I miss notices from school about events, homework, activities, all the time. I also miss important emails from work! Sometimes I feel I’m losing my mind trying to keep everything straight. As a result, Hailee has missed out on some opportunities and I have a reputation at work for absentmindedness. See how precarious this balance is for me?

While I value both being a mom AND working, I feel I settle for mediocre in both responsibilities. And I kind of hate mediocre.

Back to the job offer: I honestly agonized over this decision and had long conversations with Chad and consulted with colleagues and trusted friends. I didn’t feel right taking the job and I didn’t feel right turning it down either. At times, the feminist in me got upset that I wouldn’t be facing this dilemma if I were a man! But then I also remember that I have the privilege of being a mom, a role many women want and don’t get to have.

Anyway, this is long and drawn out and in the end, I turned the job offer down. It’s hard to know I would probably thrive in the position Center For Change offered me. It’s super hard for me to “bridle my passions,” so-to-speak. But I’m also being protective of my time with my kids and my emotional capacity to be present with them.

As time progresses with our family and we continue to heal and grow, maybe the time will feel right to pursue added work or a different career course. But right now isn’t the time.

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