MOM Series: Making Room for Baby #2 - There's No "Stahl-ing" Now!0
How we define ourselves is complex. It would be unusual to say that anyone describes themselves as having just one role. Life is probably best thought of as a series of choices that can be quite unexpected, changing constantly, especially as parents. Today we're focusing on Melissa Stahl, a proud Kalamazoo mom, pregnant with baby #2.
Currently Melissa's career is with Stryker's Craniomaxillofacial Division as a Medical Education Manager, but she also worked as a Business Development Specialist for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Umm... that sounds like a twist in career paths.
Stahl was also a scholarship volleyball player and graduate of CMU who then met and married her rival school - WMU's volleyball coach, Kyle Stahl. Officially a WMU convert, or as she explains "...well 99.9% converted to a Bronco...love is blind!" Now that's a big change!
Melissa and her husband understand that life and family is also about transitions. Initially the Stahls went from renting in the Vine neighborhood to buying their first home in the Westwood neighborhood to begin raising their family and considering all that the community has to offer.
"Now that we have Stella our daughter, I love knowing the Kalamazoo Promise exists and is a great opportunity for our youth to further their education without having to worry about the financial burden that college brings."
The Stahls have also made decisions that work for them regarding the challenges that travel and work can present in a multi-career family. For example, Kyle's schedule with WMU varies and always involves travel, whereas Melissa's job results in some long days and a bit of travel; between the two they needed to address flexible childcare. With no family nearby, childcare decisions were crucial to them and their focus included a budget which Melissa admits was frustrating at times.
"Budget was a huge factor in determining our childcare based on other expenses we have." As new parents they were hoping for a daycare that was based in a home. With a bit of perseverance and luck about 1 month after she was back to work things worked out. Stahl shared, "... and Stella has been there ever since."
But finding that perfect place that offered their need for flexibility along with Stella's needs took searching and talking to other parents. Stahl also used a website, "Great Start to Quality" as a resource.
Two working parents also means coordinating schedules. Melissa is a huge proponent of calendars as a helpful tool when multitasking and facing unexpected issues.
"Having a calendar for both our schedules, strong communication and a good support system whether family or friends is key when unforeseen circumstances arise. I am also a huge list person and always have been even before motherhood so that helps keep me focused when multitasking."
Finding balance in work and family life, and finding "me" time in the process seems like an insurmountable task at times. Stahl shared, "Balance to me is a never ending project and some days, weeks, or months I am much better at balancing family vs. work or vice versa."
Stahl's tip for other moms and parents, "… key to it all is giving yourself grace and being patient in trusting the process. As my friend says 'Mommin ain't easy!'"
She went on to add, "Although I have been able to prioritize 'me time' by being active with this pregnancy, I am already mentally preparing myself for the wheels to fall off once baby #2 comes... and be OKAY with that." And although it is long overdue, she and Kyle try to do something as a couple once a month.
As a mom, Stahl now prioritizes her days around Stella's schedule, "I'm not saying that is right or wrong, it's just what has worked for us as a family. It made it very difficult in the beginning as we sacrificed venturing out socially but all in all, it worked out for us."
Melissa also has some advice for new moms that they may have heard before, "Everyone says sleep when the baby sleeps and that is so hard to do when you are a new mom and the only time you get to shower, clean house, do laundry, eat or cook is when the baby is sleeping. I struggled with this as I wanted to be productive during those nap times, but it really is true you need to make sleep and rest your #1 priority in the early months. All the other details will take care of themselves..."
Time out for the Stahls includes exploring the food and restaurant scene across the city. They also highly recommend the downtown brewery tour to anyone looking for something fun to do on a Saturday. The two also enjoy the farmers market and can be spotted at one of the many coffee shops around the community as well as supporting one of the local sport teams.
So as Melissa anxiously awaits baby #2, she and her husband recognize that the next transition is just around the corner to enjoy in a community that embraces family and change.