Boy Mom & Social Worker

I'm a new mom and a social worker. I'm new to blogging but want to share my thoughts and experiences with others that might relate.

No sick days — February 26, 2017

No sick days

If I had a dollar for every time I said “I want to quit my job”….

It was a rough week. I haven’t felt like myself. I’ve been distracted. Feeling inadequate. Feeling lost. No confidence. Is this what burn out feels like? 

Uh oh. 

I knew coming back to work was going to be hard. But I guess I wasn’t anticipating it was going to be this hard. I feel like I’ve forgotten everything I’ve ever known. With two new cases of aggressive kids, my intense cases of babies at risk, my brain stopped working. And I’ve been doing this for over two years. 

I know I should be patient and gentle with myself. I’ve only been back at work almost 2 months after being off on maternity leave for 12 weeks. But this is so my Type A personality. High expectations and feeling of such failure when I can’t/don’t live up to the expectations. 

On top of that, having to be a mom and a wife. Lately there’s been a lot of sickness going around. My husband had some kind of flu bug. Luckily I just had a sore throat (which has lasted forever since I can’t take medicine- because I’m breastfeeding). Luckily my son has been pretty good through this too. I’m thinking maybe he was a little sick just based on the change in his diapers for a little while there, but thankfully nothing serious. (I’m crediting this to breastfeeding!) But, we all know how helpless our husbands are when they’re sick (crying laughing face). So I was waiting on him, trying to keep myself protected, and my son protected most of all. It’s been tough these last few weeks. 

Encouraging myself to engage in self-care so that I don’t go completely crazy. But that’s difficult when you’re a mom to a baby who only seems to want MOM. Realizing just how hard the field of social work is lately and hoping I can keep on keeping on! 

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Compassion Fatigue — February 10, 2017

Compassion Fatigue

There’s this thing in the social work field (and well, all helping/caregiving professions) called compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a sort of secondary traumatic stress felt by those in the field who are helping and caring for people day to day. As social workers we are helping people and families deal with really tough things, and in turn we can experience a level of stress that the people we’re working with experience, and carry that stress on our own shoulders. This stress can affect us physically, emotionally, spiritually. And this can lead to burn out.

I felt this today. I’ve felt it many times before, actually, but not as much as I felt it today.

As I’ve said before, I’m an Infant Mental Health home based clinician. I work with babies and their families, the babies are the identified clients. I have one baby right now who was born 6 weeks premature. She’s so small and fragile and I find myself worrying about her so much. Her mother is suffering from postpartum depression, and her father is doing the best he can given all the circumstances. This family has a lot of risk factors and stressors, as do most of the families I work with. But today was different. My job has been so difference since I became a mother. I feel like I pick up on more than I did before. I feel like I ask different questions than I did before.

Today when I arrived, I asked the usual questions, checking in with the family to see how things have been going since our last visit. The mother said the same things she has said before, like “I’m tired, I haven’t been sleeping, she hasn’t been sleeping,” etc. But she also said some things that broke my heart. She said, “Sometimes I feel like throwing her against the wall because she won’t stop crying. I wish she’d shut the hell up.” Now that statement would shake anyone. I’m sure I’ve heard it before. But this time, it broke me. It made my heart and my stomach drop. It made me cry in my car as I left. It made me cry for 2 hours once back at my office. As I sat there looking at this sweet little baby, who again, is premature, has colic and was failure to thrive, potentially has some other medical issues, I could not help but wonder, would she? Would her mother throw her? Would her mother hurt her? Or was it just a statement? And I of course thought of my son. Have I been frustrated before because I could not figure out how to help calm him? Yes. Have I ever felt like throwing him against the wall? NO. NEVER. And I guess that’s what bothered me. How could anyone have that feeling? I reminded myself also that my baby was full-term, not colic, not failure to thrive, is overall a happy and content baby, easy to soothe, and I did/do not suffer from postpartum depression. I cannot imagine experiencing all of those things at once. So I felt for this mom but I also hurt for her baby. I could not understand or empathize with her feelings. I could not help but wonder what would go on after leaving the home, wondering… “Is she laying there crying with no response from her parents? Are her needs being met? Is she being met with aggression or irritation or anger?

I am so thankful to work with such an amazing team that supports me and that I can process these feelings with. And that helped today. But I still cannot stop thinking about leaving this job. Finding another job that doesn’t hurt this much. So that I don’t carry these thoughts and feelings home with me. It’s not fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to my son or my husband. I knew going back to work as a mom would be difficult, but I didn’t know that it would be this difficult.

And she loved a little boy… — January 29, 2017

And she loved a little boy…

I cannot put into words the way I feel about my son. Before becoming a mom, people would say the love you feel toward your child is un-imaginable. And that is so true. I love my son more than anything. It amazes me. I cried today just thinking about how amazing he is and how much he has changed my life.

I find myself staring at every single little feature of him: the peach fuzz hair on his ears, the dimples on his elbows and knuckles, his lips, his little toes. I don’t want to forget these things. The way he wiggles his body when I accidentally tickle him while getting him dressed. The way he moves his body when he’s happy. The way he grasps onto my fingers. The way he touches my face while he nurses, the ways he stares into my eyes as he falls asleep. I don’t want to forget these special moments. He will outgrow these things and he’s already growing so fast. I can’t believe how fast 3 months has gone by. And how fast the next year will go by.

I’m trying to soak up every little moment I have with him.

“And she loved a little boy so much, even more than she loved herself.”

Ugh politics — January 23, 2017

Ugh politics

I deactivated my Facebook today. Why? In light of the election, inauguration and women’s march, I’ve learned way too much about my friends and family. And not good things.

I’m feeling so alone in my morals and beliefs.

I come from a pretty conservative family. My husband’s family is very conservative. And here I am, the only liberal one. The only one who cares about other people and BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. (Okay obviously I’m not the only one that cares about other people but it’s feeling that way right now).

I’m also an introvert and not great with my words when speaking. So you can imagine what it’s like when the family gets together and complains about the people protesting Trump, saying “Get over it.” And I pipe up, my gentle, quiet, little self. I was attacked. And I cried. And I gave up. Because I was the only one on my team, and with the rest of the people in this country (and world) that’s worried about the next 4 years . With everyone else yelling at me. I withdrew. I crawled back into my shell. I deleted my Facebook. I shut myself out. I removed myself.

I don’t want to do that. I want to stand up for myself and for other people. But I have no voice. I’ve been taught that my voice does not matter. And I can’t find it in times of stress and debate with small minded people, even those I call my family and friends.

The Big Debate — January 18, 2017

The Big Debate

I love my husband, I really do. But we could not be more different.

We have completely different political views. We have different thought processes, different learning styles, different teaching styles. We have different parenting styles. And this last one is the one we almost always argue about (besides political views recently with this heated election).

This morning we got into a debate about parenting (and then political…ugh). I came across this article that talked about “the most important skill to teach your child,” which was empathy. The article goes into how fathers can help their children with their feelings and awareness of their feelings, managing their feelings, etc. About how society tells men they have to be big and strong and not weak or sensitive, like women (BIG EYE ROLL). I hate this concept so much. Why can’t men be sensitive and talk about their feelings? Why is it that when boys are hurt, they’re told “rub some dirt on it, get back up, you’ll be okay!”? Men are capable of expressing feelings and empathizing with others, but they’re told not to. It’s acceptable for women to have and express feelings, but women are also sometimes expected to “suck it up” and be strong. That’s so frustrating to me.

My husband grew up in a family culture that practiced this notion. And actually my family practiced this as well. Boys are tough and do not talk about feelings. Girls are allowed to be sensitive and get their boo-boos kissed. You can’t coddle a boy or talk about feelings, or kiss their boo-boos because “they’ll grow up to be weak and too sensitive.” I believe the opposite. I think if you respond to your children in an empathic way, putting yourself in their shoes and in their world for a moment to understand their feelings, you’re teaching your child: 1. to trust other people and know that they can ask for help when they need to, 2. feelings exist and feelings are okay, and 3. how to appropriately cope with feelings when they arise. Because, NEWSFLASH! Pushing your feelings out of your mind and dismissing them does not make them go away. It only makes things worse when our feelings are not attended to.

Anyways, research has shown that when parents, and in this particular article, fathers, are aware of their children’s feelings and empathize with them, allowing the feelings to exist, these children have healthier relationships and do better in school. Seems obvious to me. But then again, I’m that “crazy social worker mom.”

So I brought this topic up to my husband. And I’m not posting this to criticize him at all, but rather share this experience because we have different opinions and I think and hope that this could be a positive thing for us and our family. My husband read it and his reply was, “I want a good balance.” A good balance of “toughness and feelings.” And he said that he doesn’t want our son to be a person whose “feelings control his life.” I agree in the sense that I know he means he doesn’t want our son to let sad or mad feelings take over him. But there are many more feelings than the basic feelings like happiness, sadness, anger, confusion, etc. Because, really when you think about it, feelings are involved in everything we do in our lives. Feelings drive our every move. So why is this a bad thing? This is why mental health has such a stigma attached to it in this society.

I could go on forever about this. But I’ll wrap up by saying that in the end, we said we are willing to learn from each other and respect each other’s opinions. We will parent in the way that feels natural to us and do our best to raise an amazing boy who is already pretty amazing! He is 3 months old today, by the way 🙂

 

A glimpse into the life of a mom & social worker —

A glimpse into the life of a mom & social worker

Today was a rough day. Let me tell you a little bit about what it’s like to be a mom and a social worker.

First, I have to be away from my baby all day. It’s so hard. I would do anything to be able to stay home with him.We are exclusively breastfeeding, and going to daycare means that he has to drink from a bottle. And boy is he stubborn! Which also means I have to pump at work. And I don’t want to complain, because I know some women would love to breastfeed but are unable. My heart goes out to you, and I’m so sorry that it didn’t work for you. I’m not complaining that I have to do it, just that I wish it were different. That I could have more time with my son to make this work. There have been so many times I have wanted to give up because I cannot always pump every 2 hours at work, then I have to worry about my supply dropping. It’s a lot of stress worrying about if I’m going to be able to continue to provide for my son.

Second, I spend the day with OTHER PEOPLES’ babies. It only makes me miss him more. I mean, how is it fair to my son that I spend my day with other babies? It’s not fair at all. And like they say, “your son will learn the value of hard work having a working mom.” I say blah to that! I go to work early, get home late, have enough time to eat dinner, get my workout in, have some floor play with Sawyer, then bath and bed. Barely 3 hours together. And the maybe 2 hours in the morning. I just want more time with him.

Third, these other babies NEED me. They’re born addicted to drugs, or born prematurely, or born into poverty. They’re born to parents who struggle with mental illness, drug addiction, bad relationships, or problems so severe that they are removed from their parents and placed with other family members or with complete strangers. They are born into such an unpredictable world when predictability is so important for their little brains. They’re born into this never-ending cycle of abuse, neglect, addiction, poverty, you name it. And here I come, the social worker of rainbows and butterflies, here to offer that small glimpse of hope to break this cycle, to offer these parents some education and teach these children skills.

Fourth, on a positive note, I know what healthy development and relationships should look like. I have learned so much from my Master’s program, trainings, and from being out in the field. I have learned tools and activities to use with children, ways to promote healthy development and relationships, and how to be a responsive, caring mother. I have seen babies and small children so far behind in their development and parents that either don’t understand how, or don’t have any interest in changing that. It’s hard.

Just a glimpse into my life as a mom and a social worker.

Goodnight!

Thoughts — January 15, 2017

Thoughts

I’m already having a hard time getting back on to blog. There are so many things I want to write about that I think about during the day but when I finally get a moment to sit down and write, I forget it all!

Today I have thought a lot about what I have learned since becoming a mom 3 months ago.

  1. Selflessness. I cannot stress this one enough. Seriously. You are no longer your own person. You constantly have a baby attached to you and your needs come second, or third (because we know our husbands have needs too!). I need to take a shower but Sawyer just had his second blowout of the day, is hungry again even though he just nursed 30 minutes ago, the dogs need to go out, husband is hungry, literally anything else you can think of. It’s frustrating at times, especially when you’re used to being an individual person, sleeping until 9am on the weekends, binge watching Netflix with zero interruption, and well a whole 10 minutes of peace and quiet. Quiet time on my own is how I recharge. That is very rare these days.
  2. Sleep deprivation. I have amazed myself with what I am able to do and remember on very little sleep. Granted, it has gotten better as Sawyer gets older, and because we have been cosleeping (that’s another topic for another time) we get more sleep than before. But seriously, it’s amazing that I can get out the door fully dressed most days.
  3. The “Mommy Club.” Suddenly you find yourself a part of a club of other moms who have never been friends before and are suddenly all best friends. They meet up for play dates and are frankly a bunch of “know-it-alls” that push their own parenting styles on you and judge other moms who don’t do it like they do. I have chosen to not be a part of this mommy club for that reason. But that doesn’t stop them from the occasional, “You know, you shouldn’t put him in that because he could roll over and it could block his airway.” or “Watch the cat and dogs around him!” No duh, people.
  4. Judging. I often found myself judging certain parenting choices that people made before I was pregnant and when I was pregnant. Since becoming a mom, I have found myself doing some of those things. Like, cosleeping. I always said I’d never do it, until my one month old son would wake every 45 minutes throughout the night to nurse and I wasn’t getting any sleep. Or another like, letting him watch TV. Do I put him in front of the TV all day every day? Absolutely not. When it’s on does he tune into the movement and sounds coming from the TV? Yes. And sometimes it’s just enough to keep him occupied long enough so I can go pee.
  5. Superhuman powers. I will never forget the time that I nursed my son while cooking dinner at the same time! Now that’s some skill. I had already started dinner and he became fussy because he was hungry. I held him in one arm nursing him, using my other hand to stir and cook. I even managed to use a can opener while still nursing! I amaze myself sometimes. Not to mention being able to rock and sway and bounce and walk, no matter how much pain your body is in from doing those things all day. Still, I manage to continue doing them. And can I just say how amazing it is that MY body provided him everything he needed while he grew into a 9 lb 15 oz boy in my tummy, and MY body continues to provide for him every day! AMAZING!
  6. LOVE. The best one. I didn’t know I could love someone so much. He makes everything worth it. I can’t even put into words the love I feel for this little boy. He has stolen my heart. And all the ladies at the grocery store as well 😉

There are so many other things I have learned. This is just a short list (partially due to my scatter brain at the moment). I’m trying to squeeze this in, along with a million other things while Sawyer takes a cat nap. Until next time! (Hopefully soon!)

 

My first blog post :) — January 14, 2017

My first blog post :)

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for awhile now. I’m not sure why I never did, and I wish I would have. Now, as a mom and full-time social worker, I’m hoping I have the time to keep up with this blog. I want to remember everything.

So here’s a little bit about me. I just became a mom in October and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’m enjoying watching my baby grow and the time has already gone by so fast! (People aren’t lying when they say that they grow up fast!)

My son’s name is Sawyer and he is the most amazing thing I have ever laid my eyes on. I can’t imagine my life without him. I can’t remember my life before him. The hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had, and I’m a social worker.

I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in December of 2014. Since then I have had 2 jobs in the field and I love what I do. I have been working as a home-based clinician in Infant Mental Health for the last two years. I visit at-risk families in their homes, help with parenting skills, adjusting to a new baby, encourage and support healthy attachment and relationships, and so many more things.

I look forward to sharing these pieces of my life with you.

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