Monday, November 30, 2009

Checking In

Today was my first for real day at my new job. I showed up this morning not knowing what to expect. What I found was no desk, no access pass, and no email. Needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot done. It was frustrating to say the least. I know that it was not anything malicious and that there was some effort put into my arrival and, in fact, many of the problems I experienced were due to equipment malfunctions, but still, it just seemed like there could have been something more.

Checking into a new command is always tough. You have to not only learn a whole new job and develop a new skill set in a short amount of time, but also get the lay of the social land. You have to test the waters to see how serious or not the leadership will be. You have to see if the other LTs are nice or not. You have to figure out the rhythms of the office. Does everyone show up in civvies and change into uniform? Do people bring their lunch? One misstep in these early days can be devastating. This job is especially interesting because it is a large command, so being an LT is like being the lowest frog in the pond.

Something that I am very grateful for is the family first focus of this command. It's not a given that your boss will allow you to stay home with a sick child or be understanding of doctor's appointments and other such nonsense. Some leaders take the attitude that if you needed a family, the Navy would have issued you one. For my hubs and I, this focus is especially important. There is no one who can easily get off work to stay home. I am very thankful that this command seems more flexible than those in the past.

Here's hoping for a better day two (and a desk)!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Home for the Holidays

In the Navy, being home for the holidays is really a luxury rather than a regularity. We are lucky that this year we are going to be able to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas with our family. In years past, we have often had to choose which holiday or we have not been able to be home at all. In my case, this has been especially tough as I am very close to my family. I look forward to these holidays. Decorating and cooking for the holidays are some of my very favorite things in the world.

Next year, we are starting down my hubs being gone from August or September through April or May. He will literally miss every important event in our family: birthdays, anniversaries, and the traditional holidays. When he has missed before, I have just retreated to time with my family and, while tough, it hasn't seemed that bad. But, now that we have B, it seems like the gap will be much larger. We can't really start any of our own family traditions. Next year's holidays will be merely a place holder until we can get back together.

This knowledge also makes this holiday season feel all the more important. This Christmas and anniversary have to last us two years. So, we are really doing it up this year. Tons of lights and decorations. Great presents and as much time with family as we can.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moving into a New House

Well, as I have mentioned before, we are accustomed to moving. In our 5 years together, my hubs and I have moved over 5 times, sometimes together, sometimes not. Prior to this move, we thought we had gotten pretty good at moving. We could generally unpack all the boxes and get everything set up in just a few days. Our house would be up and running in no time at all.

Not this time. We have been in the house for over a week and there are still unopened boxes, furniture isn't in the right rooms and there is nothing on the walls. Part of it is that this is the first house that we have owned. We aren't quite sure how to get everything into a house that we will actually be in for more than just a year or two. We want to get everything set up just so because we have to live with it for a lot longer.

But, the biggest reason is the boy. Usually we worked for many hours straight getting everything together. Not this time. I am lucky to get a couple of hours a day when B is napping to get things organized. I know that this isn't a big deal. I know that there is no time table when babies are involved and that I have to just take what I can and move on. However, it is getting very tiresome every time I have to try and figure out where things might be packed away and stepping over boxes all the time.

With the nanny starting tomorrow, I feel especially bad that she will have to dig through this mess that my house is. I know that everyone is understanding about these things, but still, it's just a little embarrassing. Ah well, enough break, back to unpacking.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back at home!

I rode into town late last night and, boy, am I thankful to be home! My son was not nearly as excited to see me as I hoped. It was late, he was tired, I was tired and I was really disappointed. I know that I had too high of hopes, but I still felt like he was just like, eh you're back. Thankfully this morning, he let me snuggle with him, which he usually won't do. I know that it is silly for my feelings to be hurt, but they really were. Perhaps it is just hormones, but I expected something that just didn't happen and I felt left down. I guess that is something that I need to prepare myself for as I will have more periods of being away from him. I can't expect things out of him. He is just a baby and it is silly to expect him to emote like I do.

On the upside, we had no problems nursing. A week of bottles did not ruin him. He jumped back into it like I had never left. My supply is down, but I am pretty sure that it will come back as we have more time together.

I am just grateful that both he and I made it through the separation. This experience was important. Now I know that my husband can care for our son without me hovering. I know that my son is flexible enough to survive pretty much anything that is thrown at him. And, most important, I know that I can be without him. Although it was super painful and it will never get easier, at least I know that both he and I will be fine.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Diana and Physical Fitness....

Are not friends! So, I'm in the Navy and part of my job is to be in pretty decent shape. They give us time at lunch to work out, you can work out in the morning or after work. We have physical fitness tests and we have to be weighed every 6 months to make sure we are in shape. Here's the rub, I hate working out and I hate eating healthy even more! I run my behind off, generally 20 to 25 miles a week, just to stay at the same weight (and it isn't that low). I have thankfully gotten to the point where I don't hate running and, on rare occasion, sometimes enjoy it.

Having the baby completely threw everything out of whack. I am often so tired from handling him that I just don't have the energy to work out. I have a jogging stroller that I use often and really like, but getting the energy to go out and use it is really where the problem lies. But, I have no choice. You only have 6 months to lose the weight (which is no small task, especially for someone who likes the lickies as much as I do). Well, it's been six months and I still have 5 pounds to go. I just can't seem to get them off. I run like a demon, I eat (fairly) healthy and it just isn't budging.

With the Holidays coming up, I am pretty much doomed. I honestly will probably have to run on Christmas day. Oh well, at least it will give me a break from the family for a few hours.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wonders of Technology

This separation has been tough, but thankfully, we have been able to harness the power of technology to our advantage. Through Skype, I have been able to see my son everyday and read him his nighttime story. It's really wonderful to see his face break into a smile when he hears my voice. My MIL and hubs have also been sending picture messages throughout the day for me to see him from afar.

It's amazing to me the advances that I can take advantage of while I am away. A few years ago when my hubs was stationed overseas while I was home stateside, we spent a fortune on phone cards and cell phone bills. We had no way to see each other. Now, we can talk for free over the Internet with video. I cannot express how much that means to both of us. Right after B was born, J left to go to school on the East Coast. He missed practically the whole first 6 weeks. However, with Skype and email, he was able to see tons of pictures and B was used to hearing his voice.

Being separated is, unfortunately, the reality of being in the military. In our family, someone is almost always away from home. However, with the these new technologies, the separation is just a little bit easier. I don't feel as far away as I usually do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pump, pump, pump.

I have now been separated from my son for over 24 hours and I am definitely stressing my pump. I have never been super excited about nursing in general. I really don't like the feeling and I always hated how much time it took up. However, I know that it is the best thing for my son, so I have sucked it up (ha!) and kept on. My goal has always been to get him to 6 months, but because of how bad this flu season is this year, we decided to keep him nursing through the winter. That means that I have to pump during this separation. I HATE pumping. It hurts, it takes forever, and I find it just a little bit gross.

Trying to tell your boss in the military that you need to go pump is just about the most uncomfortable thing you can do. You might as well tell him you have cramps. While the military has done a good job of integrating women into almost everything, we are still significantly outnumbered. There have been many times when I don't work with other women for weeks at a time. As a result, talking about something as feminine as breastfeeding is not the most pleasant experience. Many times, they just don't understand. This last week in particular has been bad. We have been working through lunch which is when I pump during the day. I try to be as vague as possible as I head off to the bathroom with my black bag, but sometimes I just have to come out and say it. Often times, being a women in the military is like a constant fight to remain in the loop. I feel like everytime I have to pump it's just another tick against why we don't belong. I know in my heart of hearts that this is the right decision, but I just wish it was a bit easier.

Since he will be taking bottles for the next 5 days, I am worried that he will not want to nurse when I get back. I never thought that I would be upset about this, but now that I face it, I am sad at this thought. It means that my little baby is already growing up. I have been thankful for the time that I have been with him, but I fear this is just the first in a long line of things that I miss. I know that growing up is normal, but I am just not ready to lose my little baby.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

12 hours on my own...

Well, here I am, all alone sitting in a BOQ room (Navy hotel room) by myself. I have read, worked out, caught up on the Internet, and various other things I had been wanting to accomplish for weeks. This all has been good. What is not good is that it has only been 12 hours. I still have 4 days to go and I am not sure how to fill them. Work will be busy this week, but that only gets me from 7 to 5. Sure, I'll work out and play on the computer each day, but how will I kill all of that extra time?

I feel silly for saying all of this. It makes me feel as if all I ever do is complain. When I am at home, all I want is time for myself and to get a break. Well, here I am, all the time for myself I could want and all I want to do is go back home. I am surprised at how physically and emotionally painful this separation has been after just 12 hours. I feel an actual ache in my chest for my son. My arms so desperately want to hold him. I talked to my husband a few hours ago and could hear B crying. It was the worst feeling to know that both he and J were struggling and there was nothing I could do to help. I have been on the verge of tears all day.

What scares me is that this is only 5 days. How will I feel when it is time to go on a 7 month deployment? What about all those LONG hours that are in my future when I am back at home. I feel like my child changes everyday, how much will I miss? I know that my son will be fine, we have great childcare, but again, they aren't his mommy. When I was little, my mother was there when I needed her, when I had a bad dream or scraped my knee. I can't make the same promise to my son.

On the other hand, my job meets my need for intellectual stimulation. I love my job. I love the opportunities it has given me (I have been to 4 continents and numerous countries). I have seen amazing sunrises over the ocean. I get to work with some of the most interesting people in the world. I get to do things that seem to only happen in the movies. I can't imagine sitting at a desk for hours on end working on paperwork. However, this ache is unbearable. I miss my son and will continue missing him until I am home again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seperation Anxiety

It's official. I have to leave my son behind for the first time tomorrow. I keep reminding myself that it's only 5 days, but, right now, that seems like an eternity. I know that I should be thankful that I have not had to be away from him for more than a few hours so far. In the navy, 6 months together seems like quite a feat. My husband was only with us for the first few days after B was born and then he had to go away again. I know that my hubs and MIL will do a wonderful job taking care of him, but they aren't his mommy. They just don't know him as well as I do. I know all the signs, all the tricks, just about everything about this boy. I know the songs he likes when he is sad or when he is happy. I know how he loves to play first thing when he wakes up. It's tough to know that I won't be able to read him his bed time story or kiss him goodnight again until Friday.

I try to keep tricking myself by saying this will be an opportunity to recharge my batteries, get some sleep, and regain my mojo, both personal and maternal. I will get to sleep through the night, work out when I want to, all the things that I have been complaining about lately. However, I would gladly give all of that up just to not have to be away from my baby for 5 days. I just don't know how I am going to do it. I do know one thing, I'll be snuggling a little bit extra with the boy tonight.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day

So, yesterday was Veteran's Day. It's a funny thing being in the military on a day like Veteran's Day. People tell you how thankful they are for the work that you do. While I really do appreciate when people say that, it makes you feel a little bit funny. Being in the military is my job. While it isn't a normal 9 to 5, it seems normal to me. I love my job in the Navy and there are certainly challenges that are associated with it, but it still seems strange to be thanked for it. I mean, I don't have a special day to thank my banker or the vet. However, I know that while I haven't been placed in harms way, there are many, many men and women who have. I am thankful for them. I have several friends who have been, are, and will be in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to me, those are the people who really should be treated special.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Day, Another Wargame

So, I find myself really struggling to reconcile the two sides of my life. I am both a mother and a Naval Officer, but the differences between these two positions are so vast that I find it challenging to be the same person in both.

As a Naval Officer, I have to be aggressive, assured, and, sometimes, down right nasty. I also have to think quickly and think deadly. It is my job to keep my people safe and that sometimes means destroying those against me. How does that match up to the compassionate, loving mother side of me? I feel like I have two personalities and switching between the two is exhausting. Certainly, aspects of both overlap, but it doesn't seem to happen too often, and if it does, it is often at the wrong time. It's almost as if when I put my uniform on, I adopt one persona and when it comes of I have another.

This switching sometimes make me wonder if I ever do both well. I often feel that I am only mediocre in both situations. I know that the aggressive, mean personality sneaks in when I am dealing with a crying baby and I lose my temper. I also know that I am not as assured of myself at my job as I used to be. There are times when I feel that everyone looks at me as the person who lost her edge, who can no longer work as quickly or effectively as I did previously. This doesn't even mention my role as a wife, which I think might be suffering most of all. So, how to do it all and still be the same person? I guess if I figure it out, I will pass on the knowledge!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Moving Day

Something all too familiar is outside our house today...the moving van. The hubs and I have moved nearly ever two years in our time in the Navy. Every time it takes precise planning and execution. You have to figure out what to put in the car that needs to be at the next house when you get there, dishes, clothes, etc. You have to make hotel reservations along the way. There are millions of details that have to be figured out, sorted out, and packed.

Now I have to move with a 6 month old. Every detail is multiplied ten fold. Plus, there is just so darn much gear. Crib, stroller, bottles, food, the list goes on and on. You have to take more things, but you have less car space with the car seat. So, you have to make trade-offs. I am planning on traveling 5 days with only 2 pairs of pants (and other clothes of course). The hubs packed out (put in the moving truck) some of his most prized comic books.

Moving this time seemed so much harder for other, less tangible reasons. If moving is hard enough on us, how much harder will it be on B? How will he handle the hours in the car as we drive down to our new house? How will he adjust into a new house? So many questions with no clear answers. Well, there's no point sitting around wondering, we have to move!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Day in the Life...

As I found myself pouring over internet sites looking for people like me, I realized that perhaps I should just start writing about it myself. What was I looking for? The experiences of an active duty military officer who is also working her way through the early stages of motherhood. How do they survive being exhausted and still having to function at work? How do they deal with the long, stressful hours at work followed by long, stressful hours at home with a husband and infant? What about ALL the guilt, both at work and home? I couldn't find it, so I figure maybe I will write it down and it can help someone else. Also, by typing it up, I can skate a little longer on starting B's scrapbook!

So, my name is Diana. I am an active duty Navy LT married to an active duty Navy LT. I am getting ready to start a new job at my new duty station and my husband is soon to report to his new ship. We just finished a cross country move and are getting settled into our new home. I have a soon to be 6 month old son. B is an absolutely great kid! I couldn't ask for more, he has taken all the challenges that we have thrown at him in stride. He's been across the country three times in his short life. We also have 5, count 'em 5, pets. So my house never has a dull moment.

I am hoping to use this blog to chronicle my life and my journey through the Navy and motherhood. I am also hoping that this will reach some of the many ladies who are working so hard to serve both their country, both in the military or married to it, and their families. Hope anyone who finds this enjoys it. Thanks for listening!