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Monday, August 28, 2006

Motherhood IS a Mental Disorder!

A year goes fast these days, and the impending change from summer to fall seems to be triggering lots of memories of life one short year ago. The weather has been hot hot hot this summer. Yet, while people around me complain of this being one of the hottest summers that they can remember, my own memories are a bit different. Bertha the Beluga Whale was looming large a year ago, and while we may well have not hit the century mark on the thermometers last year, as we frequently have this year, the sheer mass of my body and the amount of energy it took to create another person made it feel much hotter to me last summer. Not to mention that the 90 degree days hung on well into October as my mass continued to increase rapidly.

During our weekly field trip to the library this morning, I was pondering the unfathomable metamorphosis that turned my two year old toddler into a three year old preschooler and estimated that it was roughly a year ago when we began these weekly library outings. Sure enough, when we brought our materials to the checkout desk, the librarian requested to verify my contact information. "We have to do it once per year,"€ she said. Apparently the anniversary date was just a few days ago. The thought of a year going so fast nearly triggered a panic attack. I then had multiple flashbacks of last fall when I took Dear Daughter to the library and struggled to get up and down off the floor while digging for books on the children's shelves. And then the traumatic flashbacks got worse as I remembered those awful sensations of never being able to keep my pants up while pregnant. Why in the world can't someone create maternity clothes that don'™t have to be either too tight or too loose? I spent the last three months of pregnancy wavering between the dilemmas of drawing attention to my big ole€™ caboose busting out of my pants seams or dealing with the crotch of my pants hanging down to my knees.

On the topic of triggering memories, I was taking inventory last night of my stash of unisex baby clothing when I found a pair of blue jeans that Dear Daughter was wearing when she started walking. They are sized 12-18 months, the size that Dear Son is currently pushing into. And then I had a mind-warp-moment thinking of a picture in our scrapbooks of Dear Daughter wearing those particular jeans as she strutted around the cul-de-sac in front of our house, excited over her newly learned skill of walking. It was late fall, there was a chill in the air, and the leaves were at their peak of color. I considered our current weather, teasing just a bit about fall being near again, and then I let my mind go there--for a split second I imagined Dear Son repeating this scene in the same blue-jeans, and I wanted to scream, "STOP!"€

Apparently, in addition to losing brain cells, motherhood also causes time to race and mental illness to set in--especially that type of mental illness characterized by panic attacks, racing thoughts, and traumatic flashbacks. And let us not forget about the voices in my head.

Note to self: when assessing for an anxiety disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Schizophrenia, consider the differential diagnosis of "Motherhood." Perhaps "€œMotherhood" should just be added to the DSM-IV and be granted the mental disorder labeling it most certainly deserves. *sigh*

Here'€™s some new pics from the loony bin. Dear Son is sprouting a new tooth and a second tooth is following close behind. We broke out the teething biscuits. As I watched him practicing aiming for his mouth, I had more flashbacks of Dear Daughter at this stage. So here'€™s a picture of each of them at this stage of life. Dear Daughter was actually only 6 ½ months old in her picture while Dear Son is 8 ½ months old. While he's been slow to get teeth, he's not been slow with his motor skills.



Here are some pics of the Demolition Man plowing into his big sister's train set. He's just GOT to check EVERYTHING out, and don'€™t even THINK about stopping him! He is much bolder than his big sister was at this stage. He will GI Joe his way out of the room and around the corner with all the courage of an army man in the midst of war, on a mission to check out his surroundings. I've had to chase him into the office to get him out from under the computer desk (power cords galore!) when he slithered his way out of his bedroom and around the corner, and I've had to chase him out of the bathrooms and kitchen many times as he finds his way around the entire house. He likes vinyl flooring because he can get some real tummy speed going. I caught him just in time the other day when he made it around the corner of the living room all the way across the kitchen and under the table on a mission to snack on the leftovers under big sister's chair. This one is definitely going to keep me busy, and I have no doubt life is going to get quite interesting when he figures out how to walk and run!


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Photo Galleries

In case you hadn't noticed, I finally got a "Photo Galleries" link in the right sidebar. That makes life easier, huh? At any rate, I am still working on organizing the galleries, but they will get organized and updated little by little, so feel free to keep checking in on the progress. Also, I discovered that I am only allowed a maximum of 15 galleries. Fortunately I decided to continue the organizing from the most recent and go backwards and had not gotten around to organizing all the very old photos when I realized this. I will have to delete the oldest galleries as I create newer ones. But you can always view any or all the photos from my zoto home page as you would have had to do before. I just hate the chaotic look of it. Also, I learned by accident a few months ago that if I edit my photos prior to publishing them to Zoto, the date of the photo will not be retained. That is why you see so many photos that say "unknown date." Once I realized this, I stopped editing them before posting them whenever that was possible.

That's all my time for now. Dear Son awoke from his nap and is chattering away for me to come get him, and Dear Daughter is singing songs in her bed instead of napping, and I just finished clearing up some insurance billing problems for my work, AND I am simultaneously cooking potatoes for Dear Son. I will have to carry him on my hip while I throw the potatoes in the food processor for his evening meal and I made plenty to put away in the food cubes to go in the freezer for future meals. Dear Son loves to ride on my hip while I work on these things. When he was 5 months old I turned him from the sideways lying down position in the sling to the front-facing "baby kangaroo" style position--he loved watching the world like a baby joey. Now that he's getting bigger and heavier I think I will figure out how to adjust the sling hold to help support him on my hip and free up my arms and hands better. Guess I better go get busy!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Teeth!

I guess I spoke too soon on the teeth issue! Yesterday I thought I felt something sharp on Dear Son's lower gum, but then I couldn't seem to feel it again. This morning he was doiing more of his angry biting on things, and when I felt his lower gum there was definitely a tooth poking through. When I looked closely, I could barely see it. Maybe he will have teeth in his head by the time he's a year old after all. But as far as hair goes...well, that's another story.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Doing Some Things Right

Motherhood is filled with moments of self-doubt. From the time her firstborn child's head exits the womb, mommies typically begin to question themselves. Did I handle the labor and delivery right? Did I choose the right name? Should I breastfeed? If I breastfeed, how long should I breastfeed? Should I bottle feed? Did I choose the right formula? Should I use cloth or disposable diapers? Heck, I don't even know HOW to change a diaper! How do I get him/her to stop crying? I guess I should let him/her cry...(followed by)...How could I have let him/her cry? Do I have a safe enough car seat? Did I/my husband install the car seat correctly? I should immunize. I shouldn't immunize. I must be enmeshed if I am a stay-home mom/don't use daycare/homeschool. I must be neglectful for going back to work/using daycare/sending my kids to public school. You pretty much can't win because someone along the way will always try to tell you (or imply, at least) that you've done something wrong...regardless of what choices you make.

Yesterday, however, it really hit me. In spite of all the questions and doubts I've had along the motherhood-way so far, I have done some very important things right. Lately Dear Daughter has been "mothering" her dollies, her Taggie Book, her baby brother, the geriatric cat, sometimes she even tries to mother me. What comes out of her mouth are words hauntingly familiar, words I've spoken to her dozens of times, and words that are nurturing, loving, and sometimes (whew!) even patient. I know I've done well when she calls her dollie "Sweetie Pie," gives her Taggie Book hugs and kisses, reassures the geriatric cat that "it's okay, I still love you!" and tells me, "You are my favorite Mommy!" I also see the evidence of doing a lot right when Dear Daughter's budding self-image shows through...when she smiles at herself in the mirror and says, "I look beautiful!" or "I look like a princess!" But best of all, was yesterday when I took her out to the "backyard beach." She plopped down in her toddler-sized deck chair as I filled her wading pool with the garden hose. Several minutes later she still sat silently and patiently, and so I finally asked her, "Whatcha doin?" She then stood up and stated, "I was just relaxin' for awhile." I then experienced an overwhelming urge to grab her and squeeze her tight and smother her with kisses. Since I was still holding the garden hose, I settled for asking her, "How did you get so cute?" And she replied, "Well...I dunno! I guess Jesus just made me that way!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

8 Month Updates

Dear Son turned 8 months old a couple days ago. Has it really been 8 months since that dramatic night he joined us in the world? Time flies...
...when you're sleep deprived.

Yes, that's a picture of the Bubster eating his first cracker. He was trying to grab his sister's graham cracker, which he couldn't have (due to the honey). So I figured it was time for soda crackers. He thought it was quite a treat and did pretty well getting his chubby, slobbery cracker crumb coated hand to his mouth to munch on this new snack.

Other 8 month accomplishments include scooting forward. He can do some GI Joe moves with speed if he sees something he really wants. He is generally infatuated with electrical cords (yikes!) paper, magazines, and pretty much anything new or novel looking.

Also, he is completely weaned from nursing. We made it full time for 7 months and then part time until 8 months. I am both sad and relieved. Of course, I believe breastfeeding is much healthier for babies, and in a lot of ways I think breastfeeding is easier than bottle feeding. No mixing, pouring, heating, bottle washing, wondering how much formula I need to make and how much will he drink and how much will get wasted, etc., and no packing bottle paraphanalia on outings. On the other hand, yesterday was my first long work day without worrying about timing nursings before and after work, finding time to pump, etc. It was actually liberating to have Dear Hubby pick up the kids while I stopped to do an errand before coming home without worrying about whether or not Dear Son needed to nurse or if I was in pain because I needed him to.

Also, at 8 months, Dear Son is just now finally beginning to sleep until 6:30am about two thirds of the time. Other times he is still up at 5am or 5:30am and 4am is finally becoming a rare event. With the whole bottle feeding thing, Dear Hubby can actually take some turns at giving Dear Son that early morning feeding so I can sleep. I've had a few nights of 7 hours of solid sleep recently. Now if Dear Daughter would quit waking up crying that she can't find Taggie Book (it is usually right by her head).

Dear Son also LOVES LOVES LOVES to play peekaboo around the rocking chair with his big sister. He actually LOVES doing anything with his big sister, whom he seems to think hung the moon.

Dear Son is eating lots of different foods. I typically grind up fresh fruit and veggies in the food mill...pears, nectarines (his favorite), kiwi (another favorite), bananas, plums, peas (not a favorite), green beans (another not-a-favorite). He also eats oatmeal, brown rice, barley, cottage cheese, yogurt, boiled egg yolks, prunes, sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, carrots, Cheerios, and as previously described, soda crackers. He loves to sit in his stroller and fish Cheerios out of the cup holder on the tray whenever we go on outings. The other day I took both the kids with me to get a haircut--yes BOTH kids--and it went fine. Dear Son was just as happy as could be to sit in his stroller and munch his Cheerios and watch. Dear Daughter got a haircut while we were there, too. Her fourth one. Yes, the fourth haircut she has ever had in her life.

And, alas, Dear Son still has no sign of any teeth. This seems very strange to me. Dear Daughter was working on number 5 and 6 by this time.

That's the 8 month mark in a nutshell. Note that the picture above of Dear Daughter was a few days BEFORE her haircut. It was looking a big stringy and straggly. And yes, those are cracker crumbs all over the carpet.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Busy Organizing

I have been swamped with my obsession to lose the rest of my stubborn pregnancy weight. This means finding time to exercise while herding two little ones--not an easy task. It requires accepting that the other things that I used to cram into my blessed hour or two of free time while the kids nap don't get done. This "blessed nap time" that allows me a shred of time to myself really only occurs three weekdays each week. The other two weekdays are consumed by my work schedule. Saturdays are for errands and cleaning house and shopping and family time (if there is any time left), and Sundays are for church--when we manage to get there--and whatever else didn't get done on Saturday (which is usually a lot). If the kids manage to nap at the same time on those three weekdays, I get an hour or two in which I must keep up on diagnostic assessments, treatment notes, billing and filing, insurance verifications, returning phone calls, and various other things that I must do to manage my part-time professional counseling career. During that same hour or two I also must clean up endless messes created by a three year old and an 8 month old, (and a geriatric cat--for that matter). If there's time left over (ha!) I get to catch up on a blog post, read the first two paragraphs of a magazine or newspaper article, or pee. Since I've recently been spending that blessed "free time" by running on the treadmill and racing to get a shower, my professional work, housekeeping, blogging, reading, and yes--even peeing, simply don't make the schedule.

However, I have stayed up to 10:30pm tonight (and I really MUST go to bed so I can get up and do it all again) trying to organize photos so that family and friends can view them in a sensical manner. Is "sensical" a legitimate word? Don't get too excited yet, the photo organizing is far from done. I'm just getting started, in fact. But to view the ongoing progress and to review any old photos (kinda makes me feel sappy to see how much the kids have changed in a year and a half), please check out the galleries I am creating by clicking on this link: Galleries

Check in frequently as I will make time to finish cataloging the old photos and simultaneously keep the new ones grouped into galleries. Guess it's gonna be awhile before I have time to pee again. *sigh*

Monday, August 07, 2006

Letting Go

That awful ache came to visit again yesterday as I packed away newborn clothing that Dear Son only wore a couple times. He was born bigger than a newborn in the first place, after all. Then I packed up the 0-3 month size. I held up each piece of clothing and the memories rushed back from Dear Son’s birth. Amazing how it can feel like yesterday and years ago all at the same time.

Every so often, when I indulge myself in some thinking time, I allow my thoughts to amble down that winding lane of mixed-emotion-memories. This time I thought about the night Dear Son was born. I remembered how I had been having contractions all weekend and was up all night Sunday in pain only to have my doctor tell me on Monday that I was not in “real labor” and she would see me again next week. I thought about how I tucked Dear Daughter into bed Monday night before deciding I needed to go to triage. I was equally afraid of being told this was “it” as I was of being told it wasn’t. And I thought about the drama (and the trauma) of the whole birthing experience again. I thought about the labor pain that got so bad that I thought I'd just rather die than continue and I thought about the moment that the doctor told me we had to go to “plan B” again and head into surgery for a repeat C-section. I remembered the dread and anxiety that washed over me and how I felt like throwing up, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. A nurse was giving me drugs to get rid of stomach acid before the surgery. Another nurse was rearranging cords and tubes and preparing my bed to wheel me down the hall. I kept thinking, “Oh my God! No! I don’t want to go through this again!” But those thoughts were all intermixed with the anxiety of wanting to get whatever done that had to be done to ensure my baby boy was okay. My blood pressure had dropped; his heart rate had dropped; I was bleeding. It was dramatic. Then I thought of the moment that I heard the doctor telling my mother (who is a labor and delivery nurse) that they may have to “go the other route.” Other route? I considered for a moment not asking. Did I really want to know? I forced myself to ask for clarification. They were considering a general anesthetic. My head was swimming. All the birthing info I had read said that general anesthetics were so rare these days. I never considered this an option. More anxiety. The anesthesiologist finally showed up. I was turned, twisted, flipped, plugged in, hooked up, pinned, strapped, you name it. And there I lay staring into the big bright lights, arms strapped out on a surgical table that felt only as wide as my beached whale form, with the sensation that I could roll off either side if someone tapped me a little too hard, aware that my abdomen was going to be sliced open momentarily. Then I regained touch with reality to discover I had only packed up about three tiny sleepers while my mind had wandered. Was it a traumatic experience? Yes, I have to admit. Would I go through it again in order to receive Dear Son as my reward? You bet!

More memories raced through my mind as I continued to pack the 3-6 month size. Next it was the outfits Dear Son wore when it was zero degrees outside during the first weeks of his life. I felt the sweat dripping down my back. It was 100 degrees warmer as I packed them up than it was when he wore them a few short months ago. I longed for a happy medium with the weather as I simultaneously allowed myself to think the dramatic thought of how Dear Son will never wear those sleepers, and coveralls again. And I let myself feel sad.

I wondered for a moment what Dear Son would be like when he entered into his third year of life like Dear Daughter is currently doing, and my head swam with memories of the past three years. Then I considered that when Dear Son is turning three years old, Dear Daughter will be five and a half. I could only think of it briefly before I was overwhelmed and had to make myself stop. Seems I can barely reach the point of adjusting to the kids’ current ages and stages and they are pushing onto the next ones. I pondered a moment on the present state of things--how my gregarious three year old girl loves to hug on her baby brother and how my charming son cannot be in the same room with his big sister without looking onto her with adoration and delight. Then I squeezed both my kids close to my heart and held them as long as they would allow, pretending that I could somehow hold time still as long as they were wrapped in the confines of my embrace. And then I did what I didn't want to do but what I knew I had to do--and what I know I will have to do over and over again during their lives…I let them go.

Sure Sign...

...that Dear Hubby is working too much:

Upon completing a bedtime story the other night, Dear Daughter exclaimed, "Good job, Daddy! You didn't even fall asleep once!"

*sigh*

Friday, August 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Zoe!

My baby girl is three years old already! We celebrated last weekend since Dear Hubby is still on a major work marathon with an overnighter project tonight (Zoe's actual birthday) and probably working all day again tomorrow. I hate when they get into these huge projects! I would make a terrible single mom...and thank God my husband isn't a soldier (and thank God we have other men who are).

We partied all weekend. Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat came to visit for the weekend, which was a real treat for Zoe as she has no family nearby besides Grandpa and Grandma H. We tried to hold the actual party off until Sunday evening so Grandpa H could be there, but I knew it would be too much to have a meal at 5pm followed by cake and then presents all before Dear Daughter pooped out for bed. So we spread out some presents and fun over a couple days. Dear Daughter crashed into her bed totally pooped out on Sunday night and everyone went home. Upon awakening Monday morning, the first words out of Dear Daughter's mouth were, "Is it still my birthday party?" Ha!

She got an art easel, which was a big hit. Ever since she could hold a crayon and make it work (at about 16 months) she has been into art. A few months ago Great Aunt Pat introduced her to paint, and that's been a big deal for her ever since. We've come a long way since watercolors, huh?

She also got a "dress up" box and had fun trying on hats and scarfs and those fluffy little purple princess shoes (which her Daddy picked out for her...sweet, huh?) She got a big floor puzzle of the United States, so she can see where her family lives in other states.

She also got to go to Wonders of Wildlife again (one of her favorite things to do!) and got Great Uncle Ron to walk across the rope bridge...

...and help her catch a great big "virtual fish!"

And of course we had to have balloons (lots of balloons!), cake, and candles to blow out. Dear Daughter picked out her birthday hat and the Thomas the Train theme. She had all sorts of girly stuff to pick from, but chose Thomas. She loves the Thomas the train table at the library.

Zoe had a great time and loves being three!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sweetness Is...


...my seven-month-old little boy!

The way he chatters and sings (but never cries) before falling asleep in his crib

How he plays and squeals contently (but never cries) when he awakens from his naps

His new practice of pushing down the sides of his crib bumper to peer between the crib slats so he can take in all the sights of his bedroom



The way he greets me with a grin that employs every bit of his face when I enter his room

The adoration in his eyes as he gazes at me while I sing him a lullaby

His squeals and shrieks and belly laughs as he plays peek-a-boo around the chair with his big sister

The funny faces he makes, including his funny little nose wrinkles

But the sweetest thing of all is the way these things fill my heart and nourish my soul in a way that nothing else can. These mother-child experiences that words simply cannot capture must surely be God’s well-planned design intended to soothe the day-to-day frustrations and fatigue of motherhood.