Tag Archives: triumph

Haiku

6 Apr

Prompt: Write a haiku about your health focus. 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables. Write as many as you like.

Oh, boy.  This reminds me of my fourth grade writer’s workshop poetry unit.  Feels like an assignment, but maybe that’s just the exhaustion talking.  I did take two kids to the Boston Children’s Museum today, nurse my baby only to have a father turn his child away from the area I was in because *gasp* there was a boob behind the baby’s head (and the blanket).  And then I napped and bathed both kids, fed them, and had them in bed on my own by the time my husband arrived home at 8pm.

But you know what?  I did it.  All of it.  And that’s worth celebrating with some terrible poetry!

I’ll send you over to Melissa at Sweetly Voiced.  She’s the real poet.  Here’s her post from last year’s HAWMC.  I’m sure she’ll have something equally clever and unique this year.

Ready.

10 Dec

As I drove to my 36-week appointment last week, the butterflies in my stomach started taking over.  So much so that I called my bestie because I knew her inappropriate jokes and excitement would take the edge off the anxiety.  At first I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so nervous.  The OB was planning on checking for dilation…could it be that?  No one warns you how uncomfortable that little milestone is.  But it’s a temporary pain.  I think it was something deeper.

I was no longer driving to OB appointments every four weeks, looking forward to hearing the heartbeat of a little bean I could only imagine was tucked in my belly.  Nope.  These days, No2 makes her presence known all day.  And if all the crazy baby-ninja-moves weren’t enough, I keep running my belly into the corners of kitchen counters, into doorknobs, people….basically anything at belly-level.  I’m not just a little pregnant anymore.

Reality is suddenly staring me in the face.  We’re about to have a second baby.

I know anyone would be nervous about adding another baby to their family, and my current mix of excitement and anxiety are completely normal for the last few weeks of pregnancy.  But I’m on guard.  My birth experience the first time around was traumatic in many ways.  I’ve deliberately chosen (with the guidance of my therapist) not to rehash the first time.  It no longer makes me angry to think about – I know I did the best I could with the information I had at the time, and I have a wonderful, healthy three-year-old daughter.  I’ve moved on, but the memories linger.  Rationally, I know that this time will absolutely be different.  Maybe better, maybe worse, but different.  But those memories certainly don’t make me look forward to experiencing birth again.

And then there’s the postpartum period.  The sleep deprivation.  The constant diaper-changing.  That newborn scream.  Oh, and breastfeeding.  What a disaster last time around.  But I’m confident we’ll figure all that out, just like we did before.  The only thing that makes me really nervous?  Is that the PPD will come back.  And yet….This is not my first rodeo.  This time, I have so many tools at my disposal: a neighborhood of support, a local best friend I can be myself with, the ability to ask for and accept help, my online #ppdchat army, and KNOWLEDGE.  I am a wiser, calmer, more introspective woman because of my first experience with PPD and my success battling antenatal anxiety this pregnancy.  I have learned that all you need is a tiny nugget of hope – and from that you can regain your life.  I know now how strong I am.

I don’t expect myself to get through these last few weeks of pregnancy, or childbirth, or that “fourth trimster” gracefully.  I don’t need to do any of it perfectly.  I’ve told myself all along that all I have to do is grow a baby, get her out somehow, and then feed her and keep her clean.

I can do this.  But even better?  I think I can do this and be happy.

My Favorite Parenting Books

16 Nov

There are many things I just can’t do.  Any kind of sports.  Cook eggs (seriously – ask anyone.  My eggs are terrible, even scrambled).  Juggle.  Take photographs.

But I can teach.  And I think my years as an elementary teacher and my degree (which included courses in early and late childhood development) have really benefited me when it comes to parenting.  As a teacher, you quickly learn not to take everything personally.  You love your students and want them to succeed, but there is an intrinsic separation between you that allows for at least a little perspective.  I learned time and time again that no matter how much I disciplined my students or how consistent I was (the kids would say “strict”), they came back each morning feeling loved, validated, and happy to see me.  I ran a tight ship – but because of the structure, the students knew they could trust me to mean what I said and follow through.  They knew just where I stood and exactly what was expected to them.  It allowed for us to really relax and trust each other.

These habits have made their way into my parenting style…and it works for me and my 3-year-old daughter.  I want to be clear – I think every parent needs to figure out what works best for them.  All children are different and all parents are different.  So please don’t take what I say as the gospel or THE magic parenting solution.  That’s the thing: there is no one right way to parent.  You take what you read, the advice others give you, and use trial-and-error to piece together something that fits you.  And when it blows up in your face (and believe me, we’ve had some pretty big explosions), you try something else.  These are just the things that work for me.

No1 turned three in October.  She’s very verbal, inquisitive, and focused…and extremely stubborn.  Like all little kids, she craves attention and loves to help.  Her favorite activities always involve imaginative play and her collection of animal toys.  She’s not perfect – and I wouldn’t want her to be – but she’s a great little girl.  Kind, responsible, helpful, and a problem-solver.

I’m proud of the routines Hubs and I have managed to make a part of our home and of the little girl we are raising to be confident, self-sufficient, and considerate of others.

  • In the morning, one of us takes her to the bathroom.  After she pees, she has a choice:  sleep with M&D in bed or play toys in her room.  We leave our door open and she knows that our room is the quiet room in the morning.  She usually chooses toys.  Who wouldn’t?  We sometimes get a good 20 minutes of extra sleep out of this.  It’s amazing.
  • She is expected to eat her meals at the kitchen table.  Snacks are often  eaten while playing or on the couch.  But meals are at the table, and rude manners mean that you must be done eating.  After she’s finished, she usually remembers to ask to be excused and then chooses to either clear her plate or take everyone’s napkins to the hamper.
  • After rest time (about 45 min each afternoon when she plays quietly/looks at books in her room since giving up naps at age 18 months), her room needs to be picked up.  Not spotless.  Not perfect.  But just not a mine field of legos and barbie shoes.

We’ve managed to get routines like this in place by thinking of discipline as teaching her about consequences.  She’s only three – and truly doesn’t know better – so it is our job to teach her how her behavior impacts herself and others.  Punishments don’t stick with children long-term, so we try our best for the consequences to be logical.  For example, if she throws a toy at the cat, she is told that she showed she doesn’t know how to use the toy safely and can try again later with it.  It goes up on a shelf.  No warning.  Just consequence.   Not staying with Mommy in the store results in her riding in the cart.  After we talk about why she needs to stay with Mommy, she can have another chance to walk.

And here’s my big secret on how we get all of this to work: we follow through.  If we say we’re going to do something, we do it.  Both positive and negative.  If we promise her we’ll play after dinner, we play after dinner.  And if we warn her that yelling at the cat will result in a timeout, we don’t give two more warnings.  My dad likes to say “kids don’t play with outlets because it’s the one thing parents are consistent about”.  And I think he’s right.

Believe me when I tell you that there are still plenty of days when I am at my wits end as she runs out of timeout laughing and all I want to do is scream.  And I may *ahem* have once threatened at the top of my lungs to “take away her bed if she jumped in it one more time”.  (She stared right at me and jumped one. more. time.)  But more days than not, we get through a day with our toddler without yelling.  And I consider that a triumph.

These are my favorite books on parenting – some from my teaching days, and some I’ve read recently.  I don’t use any single book as “the parenting” method.  I pull what will fit us from everything I read and disregard all the stuff I think sounds like crap.  You have to trust your gut as a parent.  YOU know your child and family best.  If something feels wrong to you, then it’s not for your kid.

Positive Discipline – From my teaching days.  Emphasis on understanding the motivation behind a child’s behavior and great for learning the difference between punishments and consequences.

Playful Parenting – I reviewed this book ages ago here.  I love its take on how to diffuse situations with play and have seen first-hand how making more time for play with your child can have a profound affect on their behavior.

Nuture Shock – Recommended to me by a friend.  It dispels common myths about child development and got me thinking about my parenting choices on a deeper level.  I’m a total nerd for sciencey reseach books.  It’s fascinating.

I’m dying to read The Shame Game - Erica over at Off My Mama Rocker has been reading and sharing her insights and what she’s said has really struck a chord with me.

So…happy reading!  And happy parenting!  Trust your instincts and listen to your inner-mama.  And remember.  You know your child best.

The Lake

11 Sep

My grandparents bought a little white cottage when my mom was a child.  It was their summer home…my mom and her brothers grew up there.  By the time she had her own family, my parents lived in Texas, and so every year I had to beg my parents to take our vacation there.  We only went every few years, but each time, I started counting down the days months in advance.

The house itself is nothing spectacular – just a humble white cottage with hand-me-down furniture.  But the moment you hit the dirt road and open up the car windows, you can smell the magic.  That fresh-water-evergreen smell.  There is nothing like it.  And this weekend, I needed that smell more than I knew.  As soon as it blasted through the windows, I felt my entire body relax and myself really breathe for the first time in weeks.

I have been awfully overwhelmed lately with well, everything.  I know I’m not the only person to occasionally look around and feel a little lost in their own life.  This place and its people remind me who I am.  The childhood memories of water squishing between my toes, learning how to fish, and the old twin beds my brother and I used to sleep in – it all grounds me.  Everyone I needed to see was there this weekend – my parents, my oldest friend and her family, and my best friend with hers.  People who see me for who I am and reassure me I am loved…I am worthy.

The weather was perfect and the lake serene.

p.s. How hot is my husband?  I mean, seriously.

The fishing?  One little perch.  Just enough.

And this.  This is why I fight.  For these moments.

For the first time in weeks, I feel like myself again.

 

Therapy

3 Mar

There is a lot of stigma surrounding therapy.  Most people think of a serene office decorated in funky art, a couch to lie down on, and a man sitting in a chair with a notebook.  And now he’s about to ask about your childhood, right?  At least that is what I pictured.  I think I pieced my stereotypes together from a mishmash of pop culture references (anyone else miss Frasier?) and just assumed it was truth.  I also assumed that only crazy people go to therapy.  No, wait.  Crazy, weak people who have too much time on their hands and need to look outside themselves for a change, or just need to adjust their attitude.

It’s not hard to see why (at least in part) it took me so long to reach out for help when things spiraled out of control after my daughter was born.  The last thing I wanted was to be one of those people.  People who need a therapist…people who can’t quite cut it…failures…people who are broken.  The self-deprecating name-calling got pretty ugly in those days.  But eventually “broken” became a better alternative to the life I was (or rather, wasn’t) living.  So I made a call.  It was honestly the hardest phone call I’ve ever made.  I’m not sure how something can be so liberating and devastating at the same time.

I approached my first visit with Diana like you would a trip to your PCP for a head cold.  I mentally prepared a list of symptoms and hoped she would have a simple answer for me.  Perhaps a “take two and call me in the morning” kind of answer.  When I walked in, I noticed the childrens’ art covering one wall, unframed; taped almost in a grid, but not quite.  The A/C vent was covered with a kleenex box in an attempt at climate control, and a chair in the corner was missing an armrest.  Diana, a tall thin woman perhaps five years older than me, sat across the room from me in an equally dilapidated chair, and assured me that her notepad would only be present for our first meeting.  This met none of my expectations…how could this possibly help me?

She asked me what brought me in, and I started rambling.  It’s honestly all a bit fuzzy.  What I do remember is that at some point I stopped and said, “I know I look all put-together with my makeup on, my diaperbag stocked, and my daughter happy in her carrier.  But at home I completely fall apart.  I cry almost constantly and want to leave my baby in her crib and run away.  I’m screaming at my husband for mismatched bottle pieces.  I have no idea what I’m doing and I am terrified of being her mom.”  For the first time in five months, I spoke my truth.  As I look back now, I can see how brave I was.  I want to go back and tell that woman cowering in the office chair how proud I am of her, but in that moment, I felt like a failure.  The postpartum depression diagnosis I left with that day only took the edge off my despair.  I was relieved to have an explanation for my feelings, but the (completely unnecessary) guilt and the feeling of “what now?” that accompanied the diagnosis were almost as crushing as the depression itself.

I spent over a year and a half with Diana.  True to the stereotype, we sludged through hours of childhood memories.  I journaled.  She validated my feelings and mirrored back to me what she heard.  She asked me insightful questions designed to let me change my perspective if I was ready.  But there were also so many sessions when I don’t think she got a word in edgewise.  I think Diana’s greatest strength was her ability to know when I needed answers and when I just needed a trusted ear.  Slowly but surely, she helped me put the pieces back together.  And what started as treatment for PPD led to a realization that I had be struggling with generalized anxiety disorder and mood swings for years.

I will always wish that my first year with my daughter wasn’t terrorized by postpartum depression and anxiety, but I believe I had to hit rock bottom before I could see I needed to get help.  When I started treatment, I just wanted to be myself again.  But because I was brave enough to go to therapy, honest enough to speak my truth, and strong enough to put in all the work, I came out of it an even better version of myself.  I spent years denying and then months dreading therapy, and it turns out it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

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