Friday, May 27, 2011

I Feel a Panic Attack Coming On

Have any of you ever reached that point where you are one step away from either a nervous breakdown or complete insanity?

That's where I'm at.

Going from one to two kids was insanely hard for me. I dealt with postpartum depression, my second baby did not sleep well for the first four months. In fact, he went one 36 hour stretch where he only slept a total of about 4 hours. It was pure torture.

Going to three and then to four were not as hard as that first transition.

This time around has just been grueling.

I know my baby isn't doing this on purpose. He's not purposefully trying to make me crazy by not sleeping long enough--try only thirty minute naps ALL day long. But I've had to hand him off to my 8-year-old to keep me from doing anything horrible already today. I just can't take it any more. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, why he won't sleep longer than 30 minutes. I watch that 90 minute window carefully and watch him carefully for signs of sleepiness and then put him down. He's eating well. He's pooping. So why isn't he sleeping?

And then when I finally do get a break from him, I get anxiety over what I should spend my time doing. Should I work on my enormous to-do list that never ends to which things keep adding up on it (and I have to do most of the tasks--my husband can't do many of those things, like sewing) or should I take a nap and get some much needed sleep?

And it doesn't help at all that I've come down with a bad cold.

My son's baptism is next weekend and we have family coming in town for that.

My baby's blessing is also next weekend.

I got called up for jury duty this week. I mean, when they asked if there were any dates I would be unavailable between May 2nd and June 30th, I never thought I'd get called up this week when everything is slamming on me at once! I really hope that I go in and they send me home and then I don't have to report any other day but the first.

Seriously, though, it would follow the pattern of bad luck from the rest of my life if I ended up doing jury duty all week. It really would.

I think I'm going to have a panic attack now.

Oh wait, I can't. I have to start making dinner.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Special Mother's Day Gift

Eight years ago today at 6:46 a.m. Mountain Standard Time after nearly 26 hours of labor, this happy smiling boy made me a mother five weeks earlier than he was expected to arrive. My water broke at 5 am on May 7th. Since he was early, they gave me drugs to slow down labor as much as possible to give him a little more time in there, which is why my labor was so long. I wasn't even having contractions when I first went in, at least none that I could feel. He weighed 6 lbs and 2 oz at five weeks early.

Because he was early, he didn't have a strong sucking reflex and couldn't nurse. So they whisked him away to the NICU and fed him through a tube that went though his nose down to his stomach. He stayed there for two weeks, until he could maintain his own body temperature, gained back his birthweight, and could eat enough in a 24 hour period through sucking. We brought him home on May 20th.

And my life has never been the same. Today I reflect on that transformation, when I left my childhood behind and had to become selfless. That is the day I had to put someone else's needs above my own. And today, we get to celebrate him turning eight as well as the day I became a mother. He won't be baptized for almost another month, but it's hard to believe that my oldest child is already eight years old.

Here he is a couple weeks ago on Easter helping me out by giving a bottle to his baby brother. They are seven years, ten months, and five days apart. He has been such a wonderful big brother to all his younger siblings, so I know there is a reason he came first.

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mothers out there!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother's Day Gifts

So Mother's Day is this Sunday. I saw an article on Yahoo about the "worst Mother's Day gifts." Granted, the gifts they listed were pretty bad, but I still really hate articles like this. The articles should read what you should get your mother for Mother's Day.

If you appreciate your mother, get her something she'll appreciate. To me, Mother's Day is about appreciating mothers and letting them know that you love them and love what they do for you. I honestly don't think gifts are even necessary. Cards and letters are better because they tell how you really feel.

I usually write my mom a nice letter that I include in with a nice card. Every once in a while, I'll get together with my brothers and buy her something nice. One year we got her new dishes. This is one of those "no-no" gifts, but my mom really wanted new dishes. She really appreciated that. Last year, I sent her a copy of a book that I knew she'd enjoy. (Actually, I have a confession: I bought the book for myself, remembered it was Mother's Day in about a week, and sent her that copy. I never did buy myself another copy!)

I am fortunate if my children (and husband) get me anything for Mother's Day. In fact, until my kids were old enough to write and make their own gifts (and even realize there was such a day in the first place), my husband rarely got me anything. When I mentioned this to my mom once, she simply said, "Well, you're not his mother, are you?" I also used to feel guilty for forgetting to get my mother-in-law something, but that statement from my mom applies to that also. She's not my mother and didn't raise me, and although I care about her, it's certainly not the same sentiments I feel for my own mother.

Mostly, all I ever want is to have my husband get the kids ready for church that day and make breakfast. I don't require breakfast in bed, although that's nice. But just not having to be the one who gets up and gets it all done one day is nice. And perhaps prepares dinner, but I'm lucky if he ever has that Sunday night off. Especially since it's a holiday, he rarely gets it off work.

This year, Mother's Day happens to fall on my oldest child's eighth birthday, so we'll be celebrating that more than Mother's Day. Which is all good, because he's the first reason I am even a mother!

Monday, May 2, 2011

More Thoughts on Breastfeeding

I am coming to the end of breastfeeding with this baby. He is now seven weeks old and my milk is pretty much dried up. When I pump on the occasion that I'm feeling like I need to, I only get about 2 ounces total. My baby consumes about 4-6 ounces of formula or breastmilk per feeding, so obviously 2 ounces isn't going to cut it. He'll nurse and then he'll still take 4-6 ounces of the pumped milk or formula.

As I look back on the babyhood of my four older children, I don't feel guilt for not breastfeeding them for long. After all, I did breastfeed them. I just didn't do it for the recommended 6 months to one year. I did it for as long as I could.

I realize that when my child is sixteen and learning to drive, nobody is going to care or even think about whether or not he was breastfed as an infant. When my child is thirty and having her own children, nobody is going to question the feeding methods that she had when she was seven months old. It's not going to matter whether my child was breastfed for two hours, two days, two weeks, two months, or two years.

A blog I like to read, Women Living Well, had a post about breastfeeding, entitled, "My First Failure as a Mother." You can click over to read the post yourself, but in it, she talks about how she tried and tried and even sought help from a lactation consultant. She finally realized that this was a challenge God had given her and she needed to humble herself and realize that she couldn't do everything perfectly, she could just do her best. I never really thought about breastfeeding in that light before or even considered that God would care about it. But because he cares about all the minute details of our lives, he does care about it and how we feel about ourselves with respect to it.

I had a revelation today about feeding my babies. Some women love to breastfeed. It's their special bonding time with the baby and it's something that only they can give their baby. But I am the opposite. I think I love to bottlefeed. And while I do feel a twinge of guilt right now over my inability a fifth time to breastfeed exclusively for the recommended 6 months to one year, I won't feel that guilt in about two or three months.

I love sharing that aspect of caring for a baby with my family. I love that my children actually fight and shed tears over whose turn it is to feed my baby a bottle, so much that I have to set up a system of taking turns. They love holding him and cuddling him and helping me with changing, but they especially love feeding him. I think somehow innately they realize that feeding is an incredible bonding time with a baby and I relish in the fact that my husband and children get that time with the baby as well as me. I don't always turn the feedings over to them, only when it's a time that I'm needed for something else, like making a meal, but when I do, they get that time with them.

I have gotten many compliments on how my children seem to have such a strong bond as siblings. They really are each other's best friends. My oldest was making a list of people to invite to his 8th birthday party this weekend and the first person on the list was his brother. When I thought about it, I realized that we have let our children be part of the feeding of our babies from the beginning--our oldest fed our second child occasional bottles (with our help, of course) when he was only a toddler himself. And with every subsequent baby, they all participated in feedings. This time around, with the children being much older, they can even burp the baby and sit on the couch just holding him.

We've never had trouble with our children being clingy to me and not wanting to leave me for things like nursery at church or being baby-sat by someone else or even being jealous when a new baby is born. I think this shared responsibility of feeding has contributed to this.

So this is what works for our family and I'm okay with that. I know that the best nutrition is breastfeeding, but I also know a lot more goes into feeding a baby than just the nutrition, and I'm glad that my whole family can be part of that.

My oldest feeding my fourth

My second oldest giving a drink to my third child

My oldest (at 18 months) feeding my second child

My oldest holding his baby sister


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