The Beginning of an End

I don’t think it has hit me yet. That after 13 years of serving in the United States Air Force I will take off my uniform and go back to being a civilian. Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet because 1) I’m not technically done and 2) I’m not convinced I won’t come back! I was only off of active duty for 14 months before I decided to enlist in the reserves.

I was at my first unit for 5 years and my current one for 3 (as a reservist) and I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have learned and I’m more than proud of what I somehow managed to accomplish. Two big things that stand out are when I was chosen amongst many of my peers for NCO of the Year in my career field and when I was chosen to be an officer. Unfortunately, I was accepted to be an officer while I was pregnant and just did not get the opportunity to go to OTS prior to our orders to Japan and when we return I will be older than 35 so I will no longer qualify. It was still an honor to be chosen and know my leadership believed in my abilities to lead my fellow military members.

It’s interesting because I have not talked to anyone who has believed me when I said this is it. After three years of being out of the service I think it will be hard to go back into the reserves . Although one weekend a month and two weeks a year doesn’t seem like too much, it is! That means once a month I will work 12 days straight. I can’t even count the number of birthdays, get togethers, and events I have missed during that one weekend a month. Thankfully, I worked with great people who I learned a great deal from.

Since I am a full time reservist my “end” will not happen until the end of the month when I resign my civilian position as well but the first step happened today when I clocked out (so to speak). I hope I have been able to teach at least one person along my way something of benefit that will help them in some way, someday.

All in all, I am excited and cannot wait for our new adventure. Stay tuned for many interesting stories as I probably, accidentally, offend half of Japan!

September 11th-Where were you?

I remember my mom used to talk about the blizzard of 1978. She remembered so many details and could go on and on about that blizzard. It was always strange to me that she could just say blizzard of 78 and everyone knew what she was talking about.

Then September 11th, 2001 happened. I was a senior in high school. It happened right before I walked into Algebra. September 11th is my blizzard of 78. It is my when John F. Kennedy got shot. It is the day I will be able to remember for the rest of my life. It is what my daughter will hear me talk about like it happened yesterday.

My sister was already enlisted in the Air Force and was barely out of Basic Training. I remember talking to her and her saying she was fine but they were not being given a lot of free time. She just called to let us know she was okay and not to worry.

My husband has been watching the History channel all night as it pays tribute to those moments and days after the World Trade Center and Pentagon was hit. One of the closing comments before a commercial break was “the city has ordered 30,000 body bags.” I asked him how in the world he could keep on watching the heart breaking stories. His was response was “I  just can’t stop.”

Since becoming a mom I can’t handle sad. I can’t handle hate. It is just too much for me.I know this piece of history is important. I do not deny that. I also never want to disrespect those who lost loved ones during this act of terrorism. But the stories are just. too. hard.

As I was thinking about it all tonight I could not help but think of those individuals boycotting showing respect during the National Anthem. I have been associated with the military (active duty, a reservist, and military spouse) for 13 years. I have been at a funeral of a fellow service member while TAPS played and his wife and children wept in inconsolable grief ridden pain. Our American Flag does not represent racism. It is a direct representation of those men and women who voluntarily signed a contract that sent them to war against those exact terrorist who caused September 11th, 2001 to no longer be one of the 365 days of the year. You are not standing up against racism. You are telling those military members and their families that what they have done for this country means nothing to you.

I am pro expressing your right to protest. I just wish some people would consider what their actions represent when they decide to kneel when our flag is being honored.

Where were you on September 11th, 2001?

Everything I Never Knew About Breastfeeding.

As promised…here we go! So many questions always surround this touchy, sensitive subject. Does it hurt? How long do you do it for? How much milk should you produce? When is it okay to introduce a bottle/pacifier? What is wrong with formula? I do not know all the “right” answers to these questions. I can share with you what I have experienced and what those I personally know have said about their experiences.

I will start by saying the touchy, sensitive comment…was sarcasm. I will never understand why breastfeeding is such a controversial topic. What I do understand is that it can make people uncomfortable who are unfamiliar with it. I believe the thing that makes people uncomfortable is public nursing. From what I have seen…chances are if you saw someone nursing in public (and I mean without a nursing cover) it was a rare situation. I say this because it is happening ALL around you and you just do not notice because most women are discreet and you cannot even tell. I somehow managed to only nurse in public once and it was with a nursing cover. Even then I got some stares and a whispered “how inappropriate.” Not sure what was inappropriate but…lets get back to all those questions.

Does it hurt? It did me for many weeks. For a couple reasons. One, until I went in for my six week postpartum check I did not realize if you are cracking like I was you should use lanolin cream after each nursing. Whoops! After I started using it more the pain was much better! Another reason it may have been painful was because Scarlett did not latch very well on one side for quite some time (10 weeks) and I used a nipple shield. So many people say horrible things about nipple shields but let me tell you-it worked for us! She did not get nipple confusion or have issues otherwise.

How long do you do it for? This question goes two ways. How long was each nursing and to what age. Well, I learned much later that my daughter used me as a pacifier and would “nurse” for hours. I spent the first 4-5 weeks of her life on a couch with her latched on! I believe what most books say is that after 20 minutes they are not getting any milk and they are using you as a pacifier. This also may have attributed to the pain! Now for the tricky one…to what age. To me this is a completely personal choice. I have heard baby led weaning is generally best. Me personally, I am starting the weaning process now. The reason for that leads to the next question.

How much should you produce. I have no clue. I do know that I am a milk machine. I went back to work when she was 8 weeks old. We introduced a bottle pretty early on when she just would not give me a break from nursing so we did not have any bottle taking issues. When I went back to work I had to pump.I would pump around 9am, nurse her at lunch, pump again at 2pm, then the other pumping early on depended on her sleeping habits. I quickly built up a huge stash. I am talking I currently have probably enough frozen milk to last until she is 1 (in 2.5 months). That is why I am starting to wean. Since we are moving to Japan I cannot take it with us so I want to use as much of it as possible. To put into number what I pumped: it was usually 27-32 ounces a day and I would only send her to daycare with 18 ounces and then it bumped up to 21 ounces. That was also with nursing her in the morning and at night.

That is all the insight I have for now. I will do at least one more breastfeeding post since I am weaning. I know this is something that I was so curious about so I want to share my experience with you all. 10338253_1142011155816665_2979713689489562773_n

Disregard me looking a mess but this is the picture that was “inappropriate” while nursing in public 🙂

Talk About a Hiatus…

I have been a bit of a stranger for almost 10 months! Although I do not have a super exciting post right now, I will have some good stuff coming in the future 🙂 Little girl is almost 10 months so I have a full 10 months worth of motherhood knowledge that makes me an expert, right?! Not even close. Every single day I am so thankful to have her and at the same time wonder how am I going to do this for 18 years?!

There are several topics I plan on talking about as I get going again (these are based on what I have been asked about since becoming a new mom); breastfeeding will probably be first. This is the one topic I can say I have been asked about the most. Not to mention there were three women at my work breastfeeding at the same time so it was a nonstop topic! And trust me, I get it! It is amazing, frustrating, healthy for the baby, and downright scary when you are trying to figure it out. The next biggest thing…after baby weight loss. Ughhh, that stupid 34 pounds. How did it get there and how do you get rid of it?! I often get asked about this, I assume, because I was able to get back to pre-pregnancy weight fairly quickly. With that being said it was not without huge effort, both during AND after pregnancy.

A few miscellaneous things I would love to write about that I wished I had known more about from people who had been through it (not from a book or google) are sleep patterns, developmental milestones, juggling work and being a mom. As I start writing again I would like to add this: please do your best to not provide negative parenting feedback. There are a million different ways to succeed as parents and I think sharing both things that worked well and things that did not work well are helpful to others who may be as clueless as I was…and continue to be, for that matter.

Another thing to look forward to is a move to Japan. So get ready for those adventures. I cannot wait to explore a new country and introduce my daughter to a new culture at such a young age. I am excited to share all these adventures with you in the near future.