Friday, February 12, 2016

To the people I care about, but haven’t been able to show it lately:

   Thank you and I’m sorry. By lately, I mean the last almost three years. They’ve been the hardest of my life. I am constantly on the verge of drowning, losing it, falling apart, etc. There really isn’t anything anyone can do to help me, except not expect anything of me. I apologize for the missed birthdays, for the lack of Christmas cards and even presents. I thank you sincerely for sending me thoughts and gifts. I feel truly awful I haven’t been able to get my act together to reciprocate. It isn’t b/c I don’t love you. It isn’t because I don’t want to send you an amazing thought out gift. I do want to do that, I do love you. I do want you to know I care, I remember. 
   To those who've met me lately - I swear I am not by nature a bitter or angry person. I don't like that about me right now either. 
    I am in constant anticipation of this period of my life coming to an end and getting to re-engage with the world. I am dying to have more left to give not just to you, but also to my family, my husband and kids. Survival has been the name of the game for a while now. Sometimes we get to thrive for a patch, but mostly I am hanging on by my fingernails praying nothing else gives and then it does. 
   I know that the circumstances that have created this season in life will most certainly come to an end - even though at this moment I find that hard to believe. I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if I can’t see it yet. I know the snow will melt, the flowers will bloom, and the sun will come up tomorrow. 
   The reason I haven’t been able to keep in touch is because when you ask me how I am, the only answer I can give is “fine” or “alive” or “making it”. And I don’t want to elaborate because honestly to explain to most people the most recent slap in the face from the universe would be more frustrating than its worth b/c it would still not leave you understanding why it sucks so badly. Also, to give you a full sense of where I am, I’d have to give you a short history, and honestly it would just sound like I’m whining or complaining or even making it up. 
   I can’t explain how I’m feeling without having to feel it. I can’t stay on the tightrope I am currently required to walk if I have to look down or around or anywhere but the next step in front of me or the far off distant future full of possibility. I feel my pain very acutely, but I can’t share it for fear it will consume me if I let it out of its little box. 

  I am attempting to bloom where I am planted. For now, I might be a bulb that doesn’t come up this year but I’m busy building deeper roots for the future, at least I hope. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Death of a Dust Bunny

   Ah motherhood. What a joy you are. And the single motherhood inflicted by your spouse traveling for work, delightful. I have just this evening murdered some very old dust bunnies from behind my sofa, which hasn’t moved since we moved in over two years ago. (I told you they were old.) 
   Our living room had become impassable. I don’t mean if you picked your way across it you could maybe find a path to the other side. I mean layers of stuff. The sofa (the dusty bunny sanctuary) had no cushions or throw pillows or throw blankets on it. The toy chest full of stuffed animals was empty. Actually - almost all the containers of toys in that room were remarkably bare. If adults were responsible for this level of mess, it would have taken weeks for it to get this bad, maybe even months. Instead the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of a 2 and 4 year old, so it took five minutes. 
  We worked together and ‘cleaned’ it up. It felt great. I looked around, felt internal calm, and then I got up to go throw the box (yes I said box) of trash away. I passed through the ‘dining room’ (read eating and art’ing and activity and lego and puzzle area). Then I entered the kitchen. I washed the cup to give the toddler her milk before bed and took them to get baths. I was so disheartened upon my return downstairs to murder dust bunnies, that after my homicidal urges were exhausted, I put the vacuum away. Feeling defeated by mess, I am now in PJ’s in bed, writing a blog, debating which movie I should watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime. 

     So be encouraged cyber world of mommies (and daddies). You are not alone. I should note, I feel absolutely no guilt for calling it a night at 8:50 pm. My children were taught, loved, hugged, cuddled, fed, engaged, and bathed today. Not to mention the dusty bunny homicides. All together,  a successful day. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Go Dog Go

    One of the hardest parts of being a Submariner’s wife is the single parenthood. It gives you a whole new appreciation for parents who genuinely do it all on their own, without a phantom other parent out there. It’s not always the parenting alone that is hard; it’s the in and out of the other person. 
    We all love the Daddy at our house and we treasure our time with him, but there are times and moments when I wish he didn’t come home. Daddy is gone “dive, dive, plunk” in the ocean is much easier than I don’t think we get to see Daddy today (only for him to show up five minutes before bedtime.)
   I have very few complaints against my husband (and that’s saying something because we are both human). The following should not be taken as slights against his character or even as things I hold against him. When he is ‘home’, he can be a bigger burden than he is a help. He has needs. (Get your mind out of the gutter…) Dirty clothes, food, shopping lists, things in our fridge and pantry only there when he is home, an alarm clock that goes off well before the sun even contemplates rising, emotional support, personal touch, etc. The general needs of another human who depends upon you to take care of things inside the doors of your home - not because they don’t want to help but because by the time they get home they are so tired they fall asleep between the first and second ‘go’ in Go Dog Go. It’s not that he doesn’t want to be there to support me, but that he has nothing left to give. And that is ok most of the time. 
    I understand this is for a season and won’t last forever (Oh, Please Mr. Detailer let us leave before another deployment.) But it is hard to constantly be readjusting to life keeping track of a husband’s needs, and then life with an empty bed. Throw in kids who wake up some mornings (always when you need to get out the door early), obviously in need of extra love and attention because they are missing Daddy and are feeling a little lost without him, (‘No buddy Daddy won’t be home today, remember he’s dive dive plunk under the ocean. Yes, I will cuddle with you for a bit.’ ), and it can feel like you’re drowning. 
   It is hard enough to need your better half and have no way of knowing if they will even get the email you just poured your heart into (or who else will have read it before them), much less be able to respond in any sort of timely manner to assuage your inner turmoil. But then strap on a brave face, make up a game, hang a map of the boat’s journey across the globe, count out hershey kisses for all the day’s he’ll be gone, hug a daddy doll, make it ok to cry and be sad but somehow teach them resilience and strength. Search the internet, pediatricians, and therapists for new ways to help a 2/3 year old cope with not one but four major life changes at once without literally pulling all of his hair out. Give up on potty training or taking away a pacifier because those are two small things your small child can control and they literally might push him over the edge - all while dealing with the looks people give you when they realize your now pushing 4 year old isn’t potty trained and is still using a ‘pat’ at night to sleep. (Literally to hell with other people - but it piles up… know what I mean?)

   I am not writing this or posting it to my blog so you’ll feel pity for me. I’m not writing it because I want you to say you’re sorry. I am writing it so you’ll understand why sometimes I am 15 min late, or why I don’t join in the how’d you potty train your kid convo. I am writing it so that some other submariner’s spouse (or SWO or Army or Air Force, or Marine, etc) out there knows they aren’t alone. I do know that it can help to pull you back from a dark spot or a particularly down moment to simply read in someone else’s words what you’re going through. Plus I think we all need a reminder that sometimes before you judge others, and make the face that makes their day harder, we need to stop and realize we have NO idea what they are struggling with. So I hope this has been as helpful for you to read as it was for me to write. Thanks for reading it. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year's Resolutions...

In all honesty, I have never made a New Year's Resolution. Not one. I am a firm believer in goals and have always had long and midterm goals. For the last three years (I have a three year old), I have had great success with short term goals - often of the "living through the bedtime routine without killing anyone" variety. But a New Year's resolution feels like a goal doomed to failure from the moment of its making.
   After much thought, I believe most of them fail because they are too grand or too vague or too much out of our control. For instance, "I will be healthier" or "I will be a better parent" or "I will lose 20 lbs." What does healthier really mean? Better parent? How do you succeed at something you can hardly even define. Lose 20 lbs - This may seem like an infinitely reasonable resolution, but for those of you who have made it, and failed at it, could it not be because  the loss of weight isn't the root of the problem? The loss of weight will come if, for instance, you make your short term goals to be things more reasonable and controllable, i.e. portion control, no more coca cola, an apple instead of chips, etc.
   Also- a resolution for a whole year? I may have a better attention span than a three year old, and I may not be the queen of procrastination anymore, but a year is a flipping long time to wait to judge success. So why not have small, doable, measurable, controllable goals and re-evaluate every month? Why not have these in all the large grandiose vague areas of our lives in which we sense we need improvement?
   This is what I propose to do. I am going to set several goals every month. Simple things like - I will do 50 crunches everyday in January. I will institute more routine in my children’s lives by adding these four activities to our day. The idea being that in February, I will have built a habit of doing 50 crunches. Chances are high I will have found a space in my current routine for them. So in February I can add “Walk for 20 min on treadmill” and do 75 crunches. Also my kids will be accustomed to the four small activities I have added to our routine and the addition of a few more will be no big deal.
    Now at this stage, it is helpful to have some big, lofty goals to help inform what your small monthly tidbits will be. Those might be the picture or words you write on your bathroom mirror to inspire and encourage you on the days you fail (there will be days you fail). But I’m hoping with monthly check-ins with myself, there will be more accountability, more small successes to breed bigger ones. Also, should a single month completely get away from you, you don’t have to wait for next January to start over. Just jump back in on the first of the next month.

   Here are my January goals (no judging - we all have different areas to improve)

  1. Fifty crunches a day. 25 Leg lifts with son as weight (You laugh but, my word, I’ve done it for three days and I am SORE). 15 min on treadmill- 5x/week. 
  2. Daily take 2 Mito2max and 2 Omegas. Also take three triease gels per week to keep sinuses in check (Mon - Wed - Fri.). 
  3. Reduce Dr. Pepper intake. Increase water intake. (This is vague - I know.)
    1. I currently drink a can of dr. pepper a day. (sometimes two.)
    2. I currently drink a glass of water a day
  4. Add Routine to our daily lives in the form of daily doing :
    1. Monkey bars with CG and RM - 3x/day
    2. Word cards with CG
    3. Catechism with both
    4. Bible verse with Roe
    5. Phonics activity with Roe
  5. Pointed prayer and bible study with accountability partner. Touch base at least four times a week. 
  6. Spend at least 15 min of any simultaneous rest time my kids give me cleaning.
  7. At least one, kid free date opportunity with Hubby. 
  8. Write at least one more blog during the month of January.
  9. Schedule and plan at least one oils class. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Where my path to crunchy began...

   I personally belong to the military community which obviously requires those of us who choose to love a service member to live far away from the people best suited to help us and encourage us. The military isn’t the only thing that pulls families away from their genetic support systems and forces them to create new ones - it is simply the thing that has pulled me away from mine and personal experience is the source of all my writing. In this day and age, google searches, Facebook groups and blogs (far better written than this one) have become a major source of information, ideas, support, and encouragement. So I come with this humble offering to the internet. I am sharing this with you because I hope my success can help another mom ease the suffering of their child more quickly than I was able, and maybe help eradicate some of the side effects of the anxiety our military (and simply modern) lifestyle seems to have on our sweet babes. 
    We were blessed that my husband was able to be present for almost the entirety of our oldest child’s first two years before being reassigned to a submarine and returning to the life of deployments and workups and long days again. So that you can understand the stress our little man was under from July - November of last year, we moved to a new home, daddy deployed, my son and I moved to Alabama to stay with family for deployment b/c I was pregnant, he lost is only child status, and then this Spring we moved back to CT and Daddy returned in May. The very visible signs of anxiety became disturbingly apparent in my son by October. My handsome boy would wake up from naps and in the mornings with notably less hair. By the end of November there was no hair anywhere except the top of his head - and that was beginning to go. He wasn’t falling asleep right away. He was laying in bed exhausted, worrying, and pulling out his hair. I sought help from a trauma counselor. I read for hours about this sort of thing. I asked his pediatrician (useless). I asked other parents. I did anything and everything anyone suggested.
    In the end, the first part of the solution came as divine providence (just read coincidence if you refuse to believe in God).  I happened to be visiting the greenhouse where my family grows hydroponic lettuces with my sweet kiddos in January when a woman dropped by for a scheduled tour. She happened to be a baby whisper super nanny to the mega wealthy. She noticed my son's hair (everyone did - you would have had to have been blind to not), and politely asked if he was pulling it out. She had seen this before in sweet anxious babies whose parents travelled. The cure she claimed was Omega 3’s. She gave me a brand name. I went home and ordered it on amazon immediately then researched it. It made sense. The brand was quality. It was recommended for four and up. He was only two, but I asked the doctor who was treating him for his constipation issues (on going for over a year - ask if you want to know how we fixed that) and she said it was fine. [please ask your own doctor]. Literally within two weeks he was pulling his hair less often and sleeping better. We added a great multivitamin to my picky eaters regimen and his hair began to grow back. I can’t lie - I was seriously worried there for a while. 
    Then deployment went on and on, and about two months before Daddy was due to come home, my son started to get really worried again - and low and behold another bald spot. We tried everything and for the sake of brevity I will not enumerate here. Suffice it to say - we tried the loving, the bizarre, the educational, and the borderline cruel. Somethings curbed or helped but nothing stopped it…. UNTIL - our wonderful chiropractor asked me how new baby was sleeping, I complained a little and she offered me a sample of serenity essential oil from doTerra. I was largely an oil idiot, but I was interested and intrigued because we were coming out of a flu season, and I had seen tons of my friends singing the praises of oils on FB for keeping their families healthy. I jumped at the opportunity to pick her brain and share what was going on with Monroe - and that I thought it was because he was laying awake and anxious alone. She said to try the serenity on him as well. 
     It was overnight. I now put lavender or serenity (He prefers lavender) on his feet, his PJ shirt, and his pillow nightly. With few exceptions he is asleep within 30 min of us finishing bed time routine. He’s calm and worry free and he’s over due for his fifth or sixth haircut since we started using oils five months ago. 

    Nights are the worst when a loved one is away. Things slow down and generally, especially with a parent (or spouse) the evening is the time of day when their absence is most felt because their presence is most expected. The help oils has given all of us in getting to sleep during all the times our favorite submariner is gone is priceless. If I could make Dr. Who take me back in history to the person who first pressed lavender oil so I could hug them - I would. My sweet boy has help calming his anxious mind for Daddy’s safety, and my heart no longer breaks every time I see his little head go whirling by on some new grand adventure slaying dragons under the dining room table or hauling things to his latest “struction site.”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Home birth

     I am not crunchy, but if I were to give birth to another baby, I would have a midwife and a home birth. Many of you have probably seen the article floating around Facebook,  "You might be a crunchy mom if…". I only have maybe 4 of them…so not crunchy. I am, however, opinionated and I like to do my research. Generally speaking my opinions are not come to without reason and logic and sometimes moral conviction. 
   I wanted to labor naturally - no induction, no C-section, no epidural, no vaccines at birth, no episiotomy, etc. This was as much about control as anything. As far as I could tell, there were no horrid side-effects from laboring naturally. As a matter of fact, my research suggested laboring naturally would decrease my chances of having baby blues. To be really basic about it, women have been having babies since the beginning of time - we were in essence built to do this. To quote my mother - "If a woman in China, can give birth in a rice field and then stand up, strap baby to her, and keep on harvesting rice, I can do this."
   I did not want to have a home birth for several reasons. The first and biggest reason was fear of something going wrong and being 30 min from a hospital. Second being that the bodily fluids of a home birth frankly grossed me out. I was happy to have someone else have to deal with cleaning all that up. And lastly, I'm not one to buck the system unless I find something wrong about the system - then I'm willing to fight it tooth and nail. 
    I'm guessing you're wondering why I've changed my mind. Why now I am willing to buck the system? (Well, would be willing.) Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. My first delivery was quick (by normal first birth standards - 8 hrs), super painful, and ended with a  broken tail bone and 3rd degree episiotomy. I had to diagnose my own broken tail bone and confirm with the Doctor when he finally showed up two days later. I also didn't find out about the episiotomy until my Husband casually mentioned, "Ya know I'm pretty sure they cut you." When questioned - "Oh yes, they did do an episiotomy." WHAT!?! I vaguely remember there being some pain that was probably the episiotomy happening. I had been pushing for over an hour at that point - so if they had only asked and explained why - I probably would have agreed. But no - Doctor knew better. I wasn't allowed to walk. The blood pressure cuff repeatedly and seemingly constantly tried to severe my arm from my body. NB: I'm not sure my son would have come into the world if it weren't for one fantastic Labor and Delivery nurse.
       My stay in the hospital left much to be desired. The nurses that checked on me took 36 hours to take the useless IV out of my arm (it wasn't used - just in case of emergency) despite several requests. They mocked me and tried to shove drugs on me when I complained about my inability to get out of bed. It seemed weird. I kept thinking - how does everyone I know take a shower after labor? It's just your episiotomy. Lets give you lots of pain meds. B/c I obviously can't handle pain after delivering a 7lbs 13 oz baby naturally? I wanted to scream. 
     My second was a much better delivery itself. But since she came at 40 weeks and 6 days - I had to fight to not be induced. At one point my OB actually called me ignorant. Yup that's right. He told a 40 week pregnant woman she was ignorant. (Obviously not the brightest crayon in the box.) I had a stress test every 4 days for two plus weeks. ANNOYING! She came in less than 6 hours. I pushed 4 times over two contractions. Other than busting a vein in my arm trying to put in an IV to give me fluids (and then pain killers without my permission moments before she was born - so I spent the first couple of hours of her life dizzy and sick) the labor and delivery nurses were AMAZING and super supportive of all my decisions even if my OB wasn't. No broken tail bone. No episiotomy. I credit this to three months of chiropractics pre-labor. 
    If we could have stopped there, I might not have been put off of hospitals and such for labor. I wouldn't even have cared that my stupid OB tried to take credit for my easy delivery - and directed me to tell him thank you. But no - within an hour my son and dad were run out of the room because they were out of space and I had to share my room with another family. WHAT! I finally got a room to myself by evening, but WTF. I had to go to the bathroom with people I didn't know in the room. 
   Then the nursery nurse was constantly trying to take her from the room. Kept insisting on test and blood draws and heel pricks without being able to coherently tell me what they were doing and why. (All of these tests were re-done at her two week appointment.) Made it a point to continually come to my room all night to wake me and make sure I wasn't sleeping with her in the bed. Oh and because she was over 8 lbs they had to test her hourly for the first 24 for abnormal blood sugar levels. Apparently 8 lbs is 'big'???  My husband is/was deployed. My two year old lost his mind when I wasn't at home the first night, so since all were healthy I pushed to go home before night two. You would have thought I was requesting to be sent home at a high risk of death. Everyone got it together except the nursery. They lied. They delayed (5 hours after she was released by pediatrician.) Then they followed us down to the car and checked both her and my sons car seats. Also - how dumb is the rule that your child can't be carried from place to place in the hospital? Must be pushed around in the dumb 'bassinet.'
    I feel these two stories speak for themselves as to why I would do a home birth next time. But just to be clear, the medical profession and the baby birthing industry has become ridiculous. I partially blame it on lawyers (I am one - I can do this). They have sort of been forced to tailor everything to the lowest common denominator. Please don't misunderstand me - everyone, I repeat EVERYONE, is capable of educating themselves and making intelligent decisions - most people I have found choose not to do so. They choose to let someone else make decisions for them. Unfortunately, the same folks who let others make decisions for them, also like to sue when something goes wrong. So now the whole system is tailored to the idiot who heard they should give their baby water at the hospital - and decided they could do that instead of formula or nursing. 
   I am not sure why they think they are entitled to check my car seats, but they do it b/c somehow people can't do that safely. We as a society think it's someone else's responsibility to check it. And we are ok with that. We are ok with the mentality that lets the nurse do what she wants in the nursery with my child. Because I must be an idiot and she must know what's she's doing. 
   At no point did I give up my right to make decisions for myself and my dependents, and it has become virtually impossible for you to have your decisions respected and followed at the hospital. 
   I will never, Lord willing, experience a home birth. I'm done at two. Pregnancy and I do NOT get along. My second pregnancy actually worked as a very successful weight loss plan for the five pounds left over from my first pregnancy. Believe me when I say - be thankful for baby weight. So even if you aren't crunchy- I strongly encourage you to consider home birth and to encourage the future mommas in your life to consider it. You don't have to be naked in a pool of water burning incense in your living room, but you can have your labor and delivery on your terms surrounded ONLY by people who know and support your decisions and have your best interests at heart. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

"This will hurt me more than it hurts you."

We had returned two days before from a 3,861 mile road trip to see some sites, visit some friends, and mostly spend some time with grandparents…not mine, my son’s. It was a fantastic trip with more than one or two truly horrible nights sleep. It was hard enough adjusting to only two people entertaining him as opposed to the hoards he had grown accustomed to during our road trip, but he was also cutting five teeth at one time. After weeks of people thinking absolutely everything he did was adorable and/or hilarious, he was feeling pretty full of himself. He decided hitting mom’s face was just as cute as could be. Thus the very first battle of wills began, 10 months and 10 days into his very precious life.
            It was not that he hit me in the face that gave me the intense wake up call to the fact this wonderful, charming little boy who I remember thinking was perfect the first time I held him in my arms, was indeed fallen like the rest of us. It wasn’t even that after three forceful and clear instructions to not hit mommy, or anyone for that matter, in the face and a clear threat of a spank. It wasn’t that he did it again. We all have to learn, especially with the first boundaries we ever encounter, no means no, and threat of a spanking means ABSOLUTELY NO. It was the look on his face after the one rapid fire pop to the thigh and the initial cry of shock. The look said a million things, none of which I seem to be able to capture with pen and paper (or fingers to keyboard – since that old expression doesn’t seem exactly correct while blogging). But all of the things the look said, every last one of them, were shocking to me. This sweet child had a temper. This cherub of a boy could get nasty. Further evidence of said nastiness immediately followed the look –rapid fire pounding of my face.
            As this was my first encounter with discipline of this nature, at least from the “this will hurt me more” side of spanking. I was torn between wanting to hug him and comfort him and knowing the best course of action was to tell him I loved him but it was bed time. To tell him I knew he was upset, but that it was time for him to sleep and since he couldn’t control himself I was going to put him down and leave him alone in his room to go to bed. Whew. It took a few minutes and admittedly another pop or two to my face, before I realized my intense desire to hug him was doing no one any good…and probably doing the boundary I was trying to build some harm.
            For the first time in my life, I believe my parents were right. Their discipline – in all of it’s forms was most assuredly more painful to them than it was to me. The proof of that being that I will never forget that night and he is almost guaranteed to never remember it.