Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tomorrow can't come soon enough.

Brandon is off work tomorrow. This is good. Lately I've been struggling a little bit. I haven't felt like my usual positive, annoyingly calm, incredibly patient, chipper self. The last short while I've been quick to anger and frustration, snapping all too often and being far too confrontational and far too short on tact. I've felt sort of hollow. Like when I'm not angry I can't feel much else, so I almost WANT to be mad because it's an emotion I can hang on to. Even when I feel somewhat ok, I'm not at peace.

I've struggled off and on with depression for a long time. I was diagnosed and medicated at 13, and couldn't stand what it did to me. I didn't feel like a person any more. I didn't feel anything at all. I gained a bunch of weight, went through the motions as far as existing, and slept all the time. So I kicked the meds and never looked back. They didn't work out for me at the time. I did other things to cope with my downswings. For my seasonal depression I up my vitamin D intake, do more physical activity, and make an effort to get dressed and accomplish a handful of small tasks every day so I don't get overwhelmed. These bouts of clinical depression that I get every so often last a lot longer and hit a lot harder, and are much more difficult to cope with. If I continue to feel this low, I'm going to call my doctor and get help so it doesn't get worse.

My family has a pretty extensive history of depression, and I watched my mother, aunt, and grandmother struggle with it my whole life. After Cooper I had mild PPD, which I was able to deal with. There are times, though, that I go into a tailspin and it doesn't get better for a long time. Years. So I'm making an effort to get help early. My family deserves to have the best me possible, and right now, I'm not that person. I know I'm in a bad place when I start to wonder if my family would have been better off if my midwives hadn't been able to get my bleeding under control and I just wasn't around. Time to get some help.

I'm so glad I have Brandon. He supports me and tries to understand. I have a good man.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Let's talk about breasts, baby!

I have never been super zealous in any of the mommy wars. I'm pretty much the live and let live type of mom. I vaccinate, left my son intact, formula fed my son (reasons being unimportant) and currently breastfeed my daughter, let my little boy play with girl toys if he wants and grow his hair long and wear nail polish, we don't spank, we eat well, but leave a little room for moderation when it comes to junk food. I don't attack people that feel differently, or give my opinion without being asked as a general rule, even when I feel strongly one way or the other. I'm basically very easy to please, and very easy to get along with. Which is probably why I wouldn't have called myself a breastfeeding advocate in the past.

Oh how that has changed. I am still very pro-choice about parenting decisions. You wanna formula feed? Go for it. I'm not going to harass anyone. I formula fed my son. It's not the end of the world. However breastfeeding my daughter I've come to a major realization: People suck ass, and I HAVE to advocate for myself and other women who choose to nurse their children.

I had heard stories of breastfeeding moms dealing with assholes in public, being asked to leave places for feeding their children, having to deal with covering or being shamed. I've heard about the breastfeeding moms holding nurse-ins and trying to advocate for themselves and their right to feed their babies as they see fit. I've seen a lot of hate from both sides in the online community. I've heard of Facebook and Instagram accounts being banned for posting breastfeeding pictures that show less than the swimsuit photos posted by tweens twerking their way to early parenthood that never get removed, which seems like nursing mothers are getting it from the "slut shamers". Being a formula feeder, I never understood the war on breastfeeding. Who cares, right? I mean, it's just a little bit of flesh, and a child eating. It's not sexual, and the kid has to eat, so really, why waste time flipping out when there are so many more important things? I also never got why these breastfeeding moms had such a problem with using a cover or going into another room. That was then. This is now. I get it now. Being sequestered and anti-social because you have to feed your baby sucks. Stopping in the middle of a shopping trip to take your children into a bathroom so you can feed your baby is not fun or healthy. Cutting off air circulation in hot weather and covering an infant's head so as not to offend is awful, not to mention how hard it makes getting a latch when you're still figuring it all out in the beginning. Being shut in your house because you can't go anywhere in case baby gets hungry isn't fair to anyone.

I am exclusively breastfeeding my seven week old daughter and I have a two and a half year old son. We are a pretty active family. We go to the park, the store, the library, meet up with friends and family throughout the week. It's in the 90s during the day right now, and we do a lot outdoors. We recently went to the fair, and most weekends we have fun plans for family activities, like the local pool. My daughter needs to eat every few hours during the day, sometimes more often. I can't get a letdown with alternate expression, hand or pump at this point, so I exclusively nurse. It works for us. The really great thing has been that usually when I need to feed my daughter, I'm able to do so, quietly and respectfully, while continuing on with our usual activities. It's been really great. I don't cover her or go to a gross bathroom or sequester myself to feed her, and rarely does anyone say anything, and only occasionally do I get a sour look. I honestly was having a hard time believing that people could take serious offense to me feeding my daughter, because it just hadn't happened yet. I had actually gotten a couple POSITIVE comments about it. Maybe the haters just didn't exist in my community.

My dad has issues. Of all the people to flip out about me breastfeeding my daughter, it was my dad. The man who changed my diapers, saw my mother breastfeeding me, washed my hair in the bath when I was small, has seen me in a bikini, and who should be one of my supporters and pillars of strength when I need him. HE was the person to tell me I was being inappropriate in his house, when I had always tried to be respectful. He was the one to rant about my boob hanging out and being disgusting and how he didn't want to see that. My own dad was sexualizing my feeding Penny. He was the one disrespecting me and putting me down. Not some angry stranger on a high horse. My daddy.

I don't announce when I'm feeding her. Most people don't even notice unless they come close. My breasts are just hanging out. There is a small bit of exposed flesh. My nipple, which is SO OFFENSIVE, isn't even visible unless you're looking for it, and then it's for the half a minute it takes to latch my baby or to cover back up when she's done.

I honestly don't get it. Breasts are bad. Breasts are evil. Let's plaster scantily clad women all over every form of media, and then take offense to a woman feeding her child? No. That is not ok. It does not make logical sense. I will not allow myself to be objectified like that. Even my husband supports me fully and doesn't see me feeding her as a sexual act. Time to educate America. This is wrong. Formula feed if you want, but understand that I made a different choice and expect the same tolerance. Thankfully the law is on my side. I get to feed my daughter wherever I see fit in public. And I will. Don't look if you don't like it. This is kind of a big deal.

These were stolen from my mother-in-law's blog (with her permission):
Someone explain how this offends? I am feeding my happy baby.
It's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Confession time.

   I try really, really hard. It takes a lot of effort to be the kind of parent I am, the kind of parent I want to be. There are a lot of days I just feel like I'm just barely keeping it together and nights I cry myself to sleep because I feel like I'm coming up short. There are days I'm so tired I can barely hold my head up, let alone pack around a toddler and a baby and go through the motions of the day on my own. Most days I barely see my husband because he's sleeping and then working all night, and I feel like I'm falling farther and farther behind, being away from home, living on 3 hours of sleep a night.
   I've been short with Cooper lately. I catch myself raising my voice, which I NEVER did before. I've had to remind myself to be patient, and sometimes it's too late and I've already hurt him. I've snapped at him when he needs me. I've been so rushed I have forgotten that he is small and learning about the world, and instead of fostering that love of discovery, I have rushed him and brushed him off lately.
   Right now I'm looking over at my tiny sleeping boy and it occurs to me that he really is the epitome of unconditional love. Even though things have changed, and I don't always have time to play with him on command or get him a snack RIGHT NOW, and even though I'm cranky sometimes and I've snapped at him, he still wants me there. He still asks me to play, wants to sit on my lap and snuggle with me, tells me he loves me, tries to make me proud. I am. I am so, so, so very proud of him.
   I'm going to have to try harder to breathe before I react, and to be more patient. I have a fantastic son, and he deserves the best version of me possible. I need to slow down and be more of the mother I was before Penny was born and I let myself become so wrapped up in life that I forgot that it's going to go on whether I take that microsecond to enjoy my awesome little boy or not. The only difference is that not hurts my baby.
   Cooper has been so loving to Penny. He wants to help with her, hold her, rub her hair, share toys with her, buy her things, and tell her stories. He is the best big brother I could imagine. Penny is the luckiest little girl in the world to have such an awesome brother. My family is amazing. It's definitely time to refocus and be the best mother, wife, and Amber I can be for them. I want fewer nights crying and thinking about how far short I came.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hello darling!

   It's been a long time. I haven't really had time to write anything since Brandon started this new job. It's been a big adjustment. He's working 7pm to 3:30am. Cooper and I have been hanging out at my MIL's house while Brandon works. I still feel bad keeping them up all night, but Veronica has repeatedly assured me that they would be awake anyway, and that it's perfectly alright. It's been awesome hanging out over there though. I love talking to my MIL. I'm sure I drive her insane. I tend to talk a lot.
   Cooper has been having fun over there with his favorite uncles. He's had a hard time at home the last couple days, because he misses his dad. Brandon works until Cooper is asleep, then stays up a few hours at home to decompress, and then goes to bed. So then he's sleeping when Cooper wakes up, and sleeps as much as he can because he's so tired. Cooper barely gets to see him until we're getting to leave and drop Brandon off at work. I think getting to play with his uncles and grandma are making it easier because he's not so sad when Brandon has to leave.
   I'm so ready to have this baby. I'm waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Sometimes I feel like if I have to wait anymore my head is going to explode. Come on baby.
   The car is having some minor issues we need to get fixed, so that's a little stressful, but thankfully it's nothing expensive or horridly dangerous. Just annoying right now. We need to get our gas turned on, but we can wait on that. I DO miss hot showers though. Haha.
   I need to go take care of Cooper. He's crying.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Classic Sesame Street. Oh yes.

   Cooper has recently discovered Classic Sesame Street on Netflix. I love it. It's awesome. He's not into the new episodes. Just the old ones. He loves the Count and Cookie Monster. I'm sick of sitting in the house. I think tomorrow is an adventure day.
   I'm part of an mom forum, and I keep seeing a lot of first-time moms in the pregnancy group being concerned with a lot of the same things I was really worried about when I was pregnant with Cooper. This is my second pregnancy, and while I'm still nervous, I've experienced labor and delivery, and having a new baby home, and am a lot more relaxed with this pregnancy. I continue to educate myself as I go and stay informed as much as possible, but as a first time mom it's hard to know where to start. It doesn't help that in every day life, people seem to develop logorrhea when it comes to pregnancy, losing all sense of propriety and social etiquette and saying and doing things to a pregnant woman that would NEVER be acceptable any other time. Well, guess what, first time moms... I'm here to help!
My definitive list of pregnancy crap!
  1. People are stupid. Even women that have been through it before like to focus on the negative and the worst case scenario when giving advice and telling stories. It's like their goal is to scare the ever-loving crap out of anyone even considering giving birth. Ignore the stories about emergency c-sections gone wrong, about heinous tearing, about all the terrifying complications and situations that are within the realm of possibility, and talk to your health care provider if you do have concerns about anything. Educate yourself on what a c-section really is and how it is preformed, just in case, but know that while scary things CAN happen during labor and delivery, they seldom DO. The odds are well in your favor for a great birth experience.
  2. Childbirth IS a painful process. It just is. Whether you choose to go all natural like me, or you choose to get pain relief, at some point it's going to hurt. A lot. Here's the thing about that, though: It's so temporary, and your body has coping mechanisms in place, and most importantly, as soon as the baby is out, the pain is gone and there is this crazy rush of hormones that makes you high. Crazy high. I was so wired after my son was born, and regardless of the fact that my uterus and I just ran a three-legged marathon for five hours non-stop, I physically and mentally felt totally recharged and ready to dance through the birth center, and didn't sleep for hours after the birth. It was crazy, but trust me, it's so worth the pain to get to hold a beautiful baby and feel as good as you do after the birth.
  3. Everyone is going to tell you how hard it is, how exhausted you're going to be, and how you're never going to sleep again. Unless your baby has issues, that's actually pretty untrue. The first few nights are pretty rough, and the first week or two you're going to feel like a sobbing zombie between the hormones and the new sleep patterns, but once you establish a routine with your baby, which will happen naturally, it is actually pretty easy. Newborns sleep quite a bit. Take that time to rest, relax, shower, and sleep, oh, and eat food that's still hot. In no time at all baby will be sleeping all through the night, and then part of you will miss those 4 am snuggles while the rest of the world sleeps.
  4. In spite of the general view of infants, they DON'T actually cry every second they are awake. As a general rule, they cry when they have needs and stop once they are met. Within a week of being home with baby, you're going to know what they need based on how they cry alone. Again, to the parents who have babies that have some problem or another, I get it. Cooper had reflux and colic until we could find a formula that worked for him, so for 3 weeks he cried pretty much all the time, but once we got it sorted out, he was awesome. They really are beautiful when they are awake and content.
  5. You don't actually look that big.
   I find it's best to ignore people for the most part, talk to medical professionals when I need advice or opinions, and get my research from reliable sources, like medical journals, the CDC, the WHO, and the AAP. I also like watching different types of births so I know what to expect from each situation.
   Good luck, first-timers everywhere. It's normal to be nervous no matter how many kids you've had.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Deep breath. And a sigh of relief.

   Brandon got the job today. His schedule sucks, but it'a a job that pays decently and is guaranteed forty hours a week. He's not really thrilled about the job itself, but having a job is a huge relief for all of us. I'm glad he was able to find something. He's also thinking about going to school this fall. I'm kind of frustrated because he knows what his dream career would be, but he doesn't think he can do it, so he's not going to major in anything he is really passionate about, which to me seems like a huge waste. He's going to spend the money on an education, but not be doing what he really wants to do. On the plus side, his tentative thoughts on going to school is big progress. Hopefully I can convince him to do something he'll actually enjoy.
   Poa has definitely dropped. It's pretty uncomfortable. My hips and lower back ache. My grandmother also mentioned the drop today. Apparently it's pretty noticeable because I was carrying so high, all up in my ribs. I'm not carrying high like that anymore. It's easier to breathe, which is awesome. Hopefully the drop doesn't mean Poa is coming soon. I need to keep that baby in until the 22nd to have the birth at the birth center, and I want the baby to cook as long as possible and be really ready to come out healthy and strong. As uncomfortable as I am, I'd be so much more miserable if my sweet baby came early and had to spend time in the hospital.
   Speaking of sweet babies, my Cooper got to ride all sorts of fun rides at the Cherry Fest tonight. He had a blast. Last summer he was too small to ride anything but the carousel and the baby roller coaster shaped like a caterpillar. This year he got to go on a couple of the big rides with his daddy, and was big enough to ride all the toddler rides by himself. He had a complete blast. He rode everything he could at least 3 times. His favorite thing was the giant slide that he went down on the big itchy blankets. He loved that so much. He played a couple games, too, and won a stuffed pink, sparkly dolphin, and a little blue shark. He had carnie food and we got another photo button of the three of us. Brandon and I have one of the two of us from the year before I got pregnant with Cooper, and now we have one as a family of three. Next year we'll have to go get one as a family of four.
   I'm glad we got to do this with Cooper before the new baby came. It was like a mini-vacation for an evening, and we were focused just on our little boy before everything changes. Inez and Charlie took us and were extremely generous with their time, and bought him food and a wrist band for the rides. We are extremely lucky to have them in our lives. As soon as we have a little extra money I would like to go do something for them, maybe take them to a movie or dinner.
   Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to miss being a family of three. We've hit this awesome routine, and Cooper is old enough now that he's more independent. Life is pretty great with the three of us. I worry that Cooper is lonely though. Still, I'm a little bit afraid of having a new baby and starting over trying to learn how to function as a family. I hope we can make it work. I'm really nervous about it.
   I've got the list made of things we need to pack in the baby bag, and started packing. I'll have everything either in the bag or ready to go in by the end of the week. Obviously the laptop and camera are going to have to wait until the last minute because we use them daily, and I need to go pick up some newborn diapers and the oatmeal raisin cookies I want for my snack, and the popsicles won't go in until the last minute so they won't melt before we get there, but I've got the bottled water, Gatorade, Tylenol, outfit to go home in for myself and baby, 2 baby blankets, hair ties... basically the rest of the bag packed and set aside. We don't need a ton of stuff since we're not staying at the birth center over night. We'll be going home between 4 and 6 hours after the birth, which I LOVE. I'm still kind of torn about whether I want Cooper to come home with us, or spend a couple days being spoiled by one of his grandparents before coming home to a whole new world.
   Part of me thinks I want my little boy home, because I love him and I always want him home. I want to be surrounded by my little family and all get to know the new baby together. On the other hand, I remember how exhausted I was the first couple nights home with Cooper, and I'm afraid I might be impatient or unable to meet all of his needs, and that it will be harder to adjust with all the stress. I'm a little concerned that he will have a much harder time getting used to things in the chaos of the first few days. Brandon and I are talking about it off and on and I just can't seem to make up my mind. I think I'm going to ask for some advice from a few of the moms in my life and see what they think. Normally I'm pretty decisive, but this is all new to me. I want it to be as easy as possible for Cooper, who, by the way, has already decided that this is HIS baby. He's such a funny little thing.
   IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII need to pee again. I think that's it for the night. Goodnight internet.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Things that make me emotional... ETA

   Ummm... try everything lately. I'm really starting to panic that we haven't found work yet. Poa is going to be here very soon, and we have nothing. I'm getting Allison's infant car seat from Morgan just to be able to bring the baby home. We're using Cooper's old pack and play for the baby to sleep in when we're not co-sleeping. We don't even have diapers yet. I so desperately wanted to cloth diaper, and I really thought we were going to be able to, but we can't afford the up-front costs, even though in the long run it's so much cheaper. We caved and bought a couple outfits on clearance to get by until we have income. If it ends up being a Penelope I won't need to buy clothes anyway. Morgan saved all of Allison's stuff just in case, and most of it is brand new. If it's an Archer, we're kind of stuck. I'm seriously freaking about not being ready. It's been overwhelming the last few days.
   We still owe the midwives $350. I don't know what we're going to do. I'll have to make a payment arrangement, but I'm not sure how because I don't know when we'll have income again, so I can't really schedule payments. Part of me is terrified I'll have to go to the hospital instead, and have a stranger deliver my baby in a very high-stress setting. I haven't been sleeping well because I have nightmares about it all. I've been trying so hard to be positive, but the time crunch is wrecking me. I haven't told Brandon how scared I am, because he's already so upset and feels like a failure. I don't want to make it worse.
   Yesterday a bunch of my clothes got ruined. I had started the wash, and the neighbor decided to move it to the dryer without saying anything and start it on high without fabric softener so they could wash their clothes. All of the shirts I had that fit are now shrunk and too small. I'm furious. I went down to move it over, and it was almost completely dry and everything was messed up. I now have a couple dresses to get through the next five weeks. Morgan has offered to loan me some clothes, but that doesn't change the fact that my neighbors were extremely inconsiderate. If they had needed to do laundry THAT BADLY, they could have asked and I wouldn't have done it that day. Instead they stopped my load mid-cycle and put everything in the dryer on high. They ruined a bunch of my clothes. I love the guy that lives upstairs, but this was not cool. I'm going to talk to the guy upstairs and work out a schedule for when I can do mine without it getting touched, or I'm going to find somewhere else to wash clothes. I can't afford to just go out and buy more.
   I think I need a mini-vacation. Maybe I can talk my mom into taking Cooper for the weekend so Brandon and I can get the house in order and spend some time decompressing and looking for jobs together.

BRANDON JUST GOT A JOB INTERVIEW. Positive thoughts, please!