This is Thirty Nine

Sunday was my birthday. And it was a good one. A quiet and seemingly boring, but good one, as most birthdays after age 25 are. Especially if you have children.

Thirty-nine is kind of a big one for me. I know it’s a totally random number, but I have my reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that my grandfather died of melanoma at the age of 39. And he was probably diagnosed (or should have been diagnosed) around the same age that I was, at 34 years old.

The past five years of my life have been…something. REALLY something. And one of the reasons was I was waiting out the five-year post-diagnosis period that the medical community waits before your cancer can be determined to be fully gone. Not that you won’t get it again, or some other kind won’t pop up, but the first cancer they found, if it’s not back within five years, then congratulations, you’re cured. I just hit that 5-year milestone at the beginning of this month. So, yeah, it felt pretty good to turn 39 and feel like I was (more or less) healthy. Alive.

The day started off with the dog somehow managing to escape to the driveway, get in a dog fight, possibly get kicked by a neighbor, (this is all hearsay from our kids who witnessed the whole thing but didn’t say anything) and then came inside to recover from the fight/kick and we all thought he was dying. Until we offered him treats. Then he was miraculously recovered.

I had brunch at a diner with Brien and Finley. And we then went on a hot date to Target to pick out the toaster oven we had wanted to buy for a while now. And I was going to get some goldfish for the aquarium that’s been sitting empty since our beloved George the beta died. But my husband was wondering if I wanted to upgrade to a bigger aquarium and get fancy tropical fish and after a mild panic attack and existential crisis, we left the store with nothing. Hashtag this. is. anxiety.

Then it was off to the mall for Dairy Queen, but it turns out at some point they ripped the whole Dairy Queen kiosk out. It’s as if it was never there. We got nachos instead, from one of my favorite restaurants in Tucson, that happens to now have a location in the mall food court. I bought a great little travel bag for camping essentials (we just got back from a four-day haul and I learned A LOT about my camping needs) and scored some deals at Gap. And I am officially more excited about the unicorn socks I bought Finley and the adventuring shirts I got the boys than I am about anything I got for myself. Mom life.

I went home to discover that while we were out, the boys had picked out an ice cream cake for me with the help of Gramps and Gram. Brien ordered pizza. We dined and discussed Bowie’s science fair project. I got a stomach ache (so classically me) and turned in early.

A few days later, a surprise gift from Brien showed up. He got me a metal detector! I have wanted one since I was a tween. This guy in the tiny northern Illinois town I am from had found my aunt’s class ring with his metal detector. I was enchanted with the idea that there were treasures like that just out there waiting to be found. My interest was sparked again when we lived in San Francisco. I combed the beaches for sea glass, but I always wondered what might be under all that sand. And now, we are out in remote parts of the desert in our Jeep. All the history of Spanish explorers and Native American battles and the mining industry–the excitement is too much! Great gift.

And today, I went back to the pet store and had Ferris help me pick out two small goldfish. They have yet to be named. I shall keep you updated.

fishies

I am telling you about my birthday in such detail so I can document it. Every year I fill out my year end review, and the question about how you spent your birthday trips me up every damn time. What did you do for your birthday? Um, gee, well, uh, that was 9 months ago so I HAVE NO IDEA. Anyway, now I have something official to reference.

And also to let you know what a big deal it is for me to be this age, and to my knowledge, be perfectly healthy. It feels good. The amount of anxiety I had thinking about this birthday way back when I was 34 and newly diagnosed was all-consuming. And now the day is here and I feel great, positive, capable. I got this.

Big thanks to every single person, near and far, who wished me a happy birthday. It was a happy one. Here’s to many more.

What #100happydays Taught Me About Self-Care

I started a little bit late (it was supposed to be the last 100 days of the year) and I missed a day here and there, but I stuck with the #100happydays photo challenge on Instagram. Which is a pretty big feat for me, and believe it or not, my mood did convince me a few times to just scrap the whole thing. All that is involved is taking one picture every day of some small moment of joy, but on some days even that was too much pressure for me.

I have about two weeks left and then I’ve reached 100, but I will probably just keep going. With or without the hashtag. It has taught me a lot of things, and helped me with my mental illnesses.

It has helped me reach full gratitude. And to understand that gratitude can come from a variety of small nooks and crannies in our lives. It is heavily suggested in therapy for depression to keep a gratitude journal, in which you list a handful of things you’re grateful for. Which always made me feel so pressured in that moment to come up with 5 really amazing, huge, fantastic things I was grateful for. And then when I couldn’t come up with 5, I felt like a failure. Which is not exactly the result you’re going for with this exercise.

I learned that gratitude can be a cloud shaped like a bunny. Catching a glimpse of the jaguar at the zoo. Seeing your infant enjoying a toy from a dear friend. Appreciating a rain shower. Literally stopping and smelling the flowers. It’s all these things combined that make for a happy and joyful life. It can’t be all new house, birth of my baby, huge bonus all the time, and that’s ok.

I also learned a very big lesson in mindfulness. I was always trying so hard to force mindfulness on myself, when my inclination is to ruminate on the past or panic about the future. So, when I’d catch myself in those moments, I’d feel shame. Again, not what you’re going for here.

I learned how to take a moment and focus on what’s right there in front of me, even if only for the moment that I snap the picture. And, more importantly, I learned that that counts. Mindfulness is a practice, and there’s no minimum for daily mindfulness. You can get it in there in bits and bops and that’s totally fine. As long as you’re noticing it and realizing it, and focusing on how happy it has made you, you’re doing it right.

And I have learned the power that lies within accomplishing something, finishing a task. It’s not as if I have never finished anything, I’ve seen quite a number of things through to the end, and kept up good habits. But, it can be difficult to remember in a low moment how good it feels to finish something, even if it felt difficult and overwhelming in the process. This is an important thing for anyone with depression to remember. That there is a great benefit to doing things just for the sake of doing them. Things you once enjoyed, but your depression has robbed you of. And also important for anyone with anxiety. It might not happen perfectly, or even be a success at the end, but you must let go of that anxiety and take the outcome for what it is.

It seemed like a simple social media game when I first hopped on board, but I have been amazed at the transformation on my mental health from this simple task of finding and documenting happy moments in my days. It holds me accountable to my social media followers, which is key for me in helping me do things, and do them well. If I am doing something only for myself, that is where I fall short and give up (self-worth not being my strong suit).

Reconsider what a small thing like this could do for your happiness. I took it on because of the advice for anxious introverts to “always say yes.” That is, say yes to invitations, new experiences, simple challenges like #100happydays. Giving up is always an option, so you have an out. But you more than likely will find most experiences to be enriching and enjoyable.

Enjoy below some of my more random moments in this photo challenge. And begin one of your own. Who cares if it’s the middle of January?

image1

 

image2

Year in Review 2017

My yearly wrap-up post.

And what a year it was. I spent the first half pregnant with a baby I had no idea what I was going to do with. And the second half parenting a newborn, and dealing with drama in both boys’ schools. And then there’s all these THINGS that are HAPPENING around us, and it’s enough to make you want to hole up in a panic room for the rest of your life. But, we’ve made it. And a new year awaits.

1. What did you this year that you’d never done before?

Had a third baby. Had a daughter! Had a pet run away. Homeschooled. Was pregnant in 100+ degree heat. Bought my own washer and dryer. Ran an Airbnb. Went to the gem show. Saw the Grand Canyon. Camped with a newborn.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I never remember my resolutions at the end of the year. I suppose I resolved to save money, get rid of junk, the usual.

This year my resolutions read like a to do list:

Get my wedding ring fixed. I noticed one of the prongs was broken. This happened to me about 5 or 6 years ago, and the diamond fell out in the bathroom at a museum, and thankfully I retrieved it. Anyway, I took the ring off so that wouldn’t happen again, put it in a drawer and promptly forgot about it.

Get my recalled airbag fixed. They send a card in the mail every so often. They harass my husband over the phone about it. I called once and a guy was supposed to call me back and never did. I made the call, checked it off my to do list, and moved on with my life. I hate when you can’t rely on people. Anyway, I need to call back.

Get to the dentist. It’s been…a while.

Lose weight. Last January I was pregnant, and the January before that I’m sure I needed to gain weight. But this year I’m quite a bit heavier than I’m used to being. Lots of leftover pregnancy weight and combining my breastfeeding appetite with the unhealthy treats that seem to multiply in my house at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I could stand to eat a smoothie once in a while, instead of peanut butter M&Ms.

I need to get my Etsy shop up and running again. I’ve got oodles of candles just sitting around, and they sell at shows, so I’m hoping they’ll sell online too.

I should blog more often.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

A good family friend passed away suddenly.

4. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

More life balance. Less anxiety. Patience. Confidence. Free time.

5. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?

Finley’s birthday. Inauguration day. Labor Day weekend (I got to see the Grand Canyon!)

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Having another baby. The whole thing was wrought with stress and uncertainty. And the delivery was stressful. In the end she came and everything was fine, and it can thankfully all be a distant memory. It was hard work, and I made it. I did it. We did it.

7. What was your biggest failure?

Letting my anxiety get the best of me. When I don’t actively work on it, life lags. Feelings slump. I fall back into old patterns. It’s not hard to manage, but sometimes I let less important things take center stage. After a few years of doing really well, even through the big move, and an unplanned pregnancy, I sailed. Then, I crumbled. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do that, and I’m learning that it’s ok not to know, but you still need to fix yourself.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Having the baby, and having my tubes tied after. And several mole biopsies, as per the usual.

9. What was the best thing you bought?

The baby. Haha! Just kidding. I mean yes, she was the best thing. But as for material goods: my new freezer. We JUST got it, so I don’t know if I can say it’s the best, but it’s a game changer. I can’t jam enough stuff into this freezer. Crock pot meals, ready-to-eat meals, treats for the boys. Baby food at some point. And I save a lot of stuff in the freezer, basically anything you can freeze. It’s going to work out VERY well.

10. Where did most of your money go?

The baby. More plumbing woes. The husband’s Jeep.

11. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Not being pregnant anymore! (Ever!)

12. What song will always remind you of 2017?

Halleluja by Leonard Cohen. Not because of its recent rise in popularity because of his death in 2016. Though that rise in popularity brought the song back to the forefront of my mind, and I remembered how much I always loved it. It’s hauntingly sweet and heartbreaking and fits perfectly with my mood sometimes.

Wild World by Cat Stevens. As I mentioned before, it makes me think of my cat Coco and how she ran away, unexpectedly. Understandably, but still unexpectedly. I had hopes she would return when the temperature dropped, but we have had temps as low as 29 degrees and she has not shown her face. I can only hope she has found a new, warm home and is being loved and cared for in her senior years.

I am Woman by Helen Reddy. It has been empowering watching women around the world take of the gloves and fight bare-fisted for things to change. Women coming forward against powerful men, and the #metoo movement. For my daughter’s sake, I hope I am witnessing the downfall of the patriarchy. Or I hope at least we’ve knocked it down a few notches.

We Will Rock You by Queen. It is Ferris’ absolute favorite jam, and he is constantly asking me to play it in my car. He has also learned how to ask our Amazon Echo to play it. I hear it a lot. But hey, things could be worse. I will always think of him at age 5 when I hear that song.

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?

a) Sadder, I think. Maybe roughly the same. This time of year is always hard for me, so maybe that’s contributing. I have not been happy with the way things are going for our nation, that is definitely not as good as last year. It’s a strange thing, depression. I feel loved, and blessed, and lucky, and comfortable. Just not happy.

b) Oh man, so much fatter. I was a pant size bigger after I had the baby, and that weight has gone NOWHERE. I’m not eating well, that’s the number one contributing factor. And who has time for real exercise anymore?

c) Richer. In that we are paying much less toward our mortgage than we paid for rent in San Francisco. And the Airbnb rental brings in a substantial amount of money. Not a lot richer, but richer.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Enjoying pregnancy. It was my last, after all. I let the stress cloud all the enjoyment. I am enjoying her as a tiny baby though. I know all too well how fast that goes. As I write this, she is just over the 5 month mark, and she is eating solids and starting to sit up on her own. She’s in size 2 diapers already, and already outgrown some clothes. Just, like, slow down, time!

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing. Eating. Stress eating.

16. How did you spend Christmas?

My in-laws were in town (house shopping!). They came over early and we opened gifts and watched the boys play with all their new stuff. It was 75 degrees out, so Brien and Grandpa took the boys to the park to shoot their new cap guns. (Yes they still make cap guns, and yes my husband bought some.) My mother-in-law gave me the inside scoop on these turkeys you cook from frozen in the oven, and they’re all seasoned and ready to go and everything. So we stuck one of those in the oven. And then I was supposed to make mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, but I went to lay down with the baby so she would nap, and ended up falling asleep myself. Y’all, I got a NAP for Christmas. And my wonderful mother-in-law had made the rest of the food and set the table, and I will forever be grateful. It was a good day.

17. What was your favorite TV program?

I rewatched Gilmore Girls. And Friends. I’ve also enjoyed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (a mid-season cancellation BOO), Flaked. Lots of baseball.

18. What did you do on your birthday, and how old are you?

I turned 38 this year. It came and went quietly, as most 30-something birthdays do. I was pregnant, and I think the boys were on Spring Break. Not notable. I will try to make the answer to this question more interesting next year.

Happy new year! Let’s hope 2018 is an upswing.

7F4AFC33-A482-40D3-BE7D-1FF17CE618AA

Now I’m a Homeschool Mom?

A few weeks ago, I broke up with our preschool.

I don’t know if I had ever mentioned it on here before, but last year Bowie was expelled within 6 weeks of starting at a Montessori elementary school, as a result of “violence” from him. And I never felt the strength to fight them on it, I rolled over and took it. He’s very happy at the local elementary school so, emotionally, we all got over it. But, this time I took a chance and voiced my thoughts, and left the school.

The preschool/Kindergarten and elementary schools are in separate locations, so I was never sure if the preschool had been up to speed on what happened with Ferris’ older brother. But, Ferris had a very good year there last year, and we were feeling like it was right for him.

Ferris started acting out physically toward his peers, and I just started getting the phone calls, and the threats of suspension, and all the stuff that happened with Bowie last year, and I was not going to take it.

Elementary school was free, so whatever. But preschool costs us $800 a month, and Ferris was learning very little there, he really should have gone to Kindergarten this year but didn’t meet the September 1 birthday cut off. We had planned to put him in Bowie’s school next year anyway, and had debated skipping this year of “preschool”, but went for it anyway. It’s nice to have time away from your kids, and to have them socializing, and hopefully being educated. My kids were not getting educated at this school, they were being made to feel separate from the group, and shamed for behavior that was likely instigated by another student.

I make NO excuses for my sons’ physical outbursts, but I know from my background at the co-op in San Francisco that my kids are not instigators, they are reactors. And they need emotional support surrounding any incident, whether they were the attacker or the victim. And this school does not provide it.

When I went to pick Ferris up from school on Friday, he was in a corner alone, for having dumped toys on the ground in a fit of rage, and he was bawling. Not just mad and crying, sobbing. And I had had enough. As had my husband. Who is away at the time for work, but even remotely, he knew the whole situation was wrong.

We come from a background of being taught day after day, and through several parent education classes (required at the co-op) of Hand-in-Hand Parenting, emotional understanding, Gordon Neufeld approaches to parenting. And the Montessori style is so opposite of this, I couldn’t believe it. I figured that if he was going to be there for six-plus hours a day, and be treated as he was being treated, we were basically paying these people $800 a month to emotionally neglect our child. Instead of seeking the cause of the outburst, the merely isolate the child for the outburst and move on with their day. This is not effective discipline, nor is it the right way to treat a child.

As far as learning was going, he can write his name. Barely. He knows some numbers, and can count to 12. At the same age, Bowie was much further along. Going to preschool a mere 3 hours a day. So, obviously not a ton of practical learning was happening for Ferris.

And when they call you and say, “He pushed another child today. If anything else happens today, you’ll have to come pick him up.”, it takes a great deal of patience and cheek biting not to shout, “YOU ARE THE TEACHERS. THIS IS YOUR SCHOOL. IT IS YOUR JOB, NOT MINE, TO MAKE SURE HE FOLLOWS SCHOOL RULES.”

Ahem.

So, long story slightly less longer than it could be, we quit. We left. We broke up with them.

There are other preschools in Tucson that we could afford that could do a slightly better job. But, I can take him out and do learning activities, and do academic workbooks with him at home, for free. 

In 10 months, they will finally deem him age appropriate for Kindergarten, and he will go to Bowie’s school, and that will be that.

I have been asked by all the people I emotionally unloaded upon if I thought I’d be ok having him at home all the time. I’m not known for a past with extremely great experiences in this department. I know that. But, the prospect does not scare me. I have learned a lot in my 9.25 years as a parent, and I can figure this out. And it’s only for a while, less than a year. He will be home with me and we will just get to hang out and be together, he will not be shamed for having typical 5-year-old emotional outbursts, and we will be saving a good chunk of money. Win-win-win.

That said, I’m now a homeschool mom, I guess? On a technicality? And I’m looking for ideas on resources. Good places to go and do educational things. Good workbooks or companies with good learning materials. I’m not going to go all out here, I just want to teach him his letters and numbers, and some basic concepts. So, if you homeschool, or have homeschooled, or are just up on the subject, please pass along any applicable info. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and obviously here. Lay it on me.

Five

On Sunday, my dear sweet Ferris, my now middle child, turned five. Aside from being super mad that he can’t go to Kindergarten now, and didn’t magically overnight learn how to read and write, he’s pretty excited.

He’s as hilarious as he is cute, and he’s pretty darn cute. And he’s so unique, and not afraid to let his personality show. And a unique boy needs a unique celebration. The day started off with some birthday pancakes at Denny’s. Then, we took him on a shopping spree at Toys R Us, mainly because we forgot to get presents until the last minute, but if he asks, we thought it would just be more fun!

birthday pancakes

Then it was off to Golf N Stuff with friends. It’s a place here in Tucson with mini-golf, bumper boats, go karts and an arcade. It’s basically the best place to spend a kid’s birthday. After that, we headed to Dairy Queen for ice cream, and then at bedtime he got to play with his new toys in his for a while before going to bed. All in all, a good day had by everyone.

putt putt

 

birthday ice cream

He’s becoming his own little person in so many ways. Of course, anything his big brother loves, he loves too. But he’s always putting his own little spin on all of it.

He mispronounces like, a million words. I don’t have the heart to correct him, it’s just way too sweet. Some examples: kitty glitter (kitty litter), sprinkle water (sparkling water), Pandaspress (Panda Express, his favorite restaurant), flip flaps (flip flops), roaster coaster (roller coaster), Golfing Stuff (Golf N Stuff) and scream time (screen time). He also likes to tell us how he’s feeling using the infinitive. “I feel like to poop.” “I feel like to sleep.” “I feel like to have cereal.”

Favorite things: Scream time (see above), Minecraft, Legos, cats, dogs, dinosaurs, robots, knock knock jokes, salami, dirt, horsepower (when we are driving and the engine revs), Jeep adventures, arts and crafts, root beer, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, McDonald’s Playplaces, and making poop and fart jokes.

Least favorite things: not getting a turn during Scream Time, having his picture taken, the fact that his car door is still child locked, bedtime, leaving school, chocolate (weirdo), and apparently, riding in someone else’s car (we tried a carpool thing with friends and it did NOT go over well).

It’s amazing to watch him grown and become his own little man. So much of him reminds me of when my younger brother was a kid, which is very heartwarming. I’m just thankful he hasn’t needed stitches yet, very much UNLIKE my younger brother.

Happy fifth birthday to my dearest Ferris, I’m sorry you’re the middle child now, but being sandwiched between siblings has got to have some benefit to it, right? I vow to make sure I remember to douse you with as much mom love as I can. I hope you have a great year, even though you don’t get to go to Bowie’s school quite yet. Here’s to 5 and all the exciting stuff to come.

Take Good Care

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it yet, but while my in-laws were here to visit the new baby, it was decided that our dog Newton would stay behind and live with us again (he went to live with them 8 or so years ago because Brien’s allergies had gotten so bad, but he’s since had shot therapy for it).

Anyway, when we bought our house it had a few doggie doors installed already. And since Newton was used to having a doggie door at my in-laws’ place, we thought it might be best, especially at night, if he were able to let himself in and out. We wondered what the kitties would do, but gave it a shot.

Mostly, the kitties just went in and out, explored the yard, and basked in the sun. But then, Coco left. I mean, she LEFT. She’s been gone for DAYS now, so many, I’ve lost track. And I put a post on our neighborhood mailing list, and a few people say they’ve seen her around (at least they think it’s her, this kitty matches my description).

I know life has been hectic around here, with the new kitten last fall, and the reintroduction of the dog, and the new baby, and the boys just generally being crazy, so I get that she was stressed. But she always cuddled with me when she could. I never thought she’d leave.

coco 1

And of course my anxiety has me thinking the craziest things. Namely, is she trying to make her way back to San Francisco? Not to get all Homeward Bound on you, but animals have done crazier things under much less stressful circumstances.

And I’m so worried for her. What if she can’t find water in this heat? What if she runs into a coyote/javelina/other cat? She’s too old to fight like she used to, but she’ll try. Where will she end up? In another home? Will they think she’s young because she’s small? Will they think she’s too old and have her put down? My mind is a mess.

Anyway, it’s been making me think of this Cat Stevens song, and I’m sorry if I make you cry, but dammit.

 

Finley’s Birth Story!

For those who hadn’t heard, my sweet lady made her appearance two weeks early! She arrived July 18 at 9:20 in the morning. We named her Finley Jeanne. She weighed a mere 6lbs 10oz, compared to her brothers at nearly 9 pounds. And she’s 19 3/4 inches. Tall and skinny.

Her birth story is mostly boring with a few interesting tidbits, but here it is for those of you who love a good birth story:

On Monday morning (July 17), I ate a bowl of cereal and then for the rest of the day, I felt sick. Like I had eaten something bad, or had gotten the stomach flu or something. Not a lot of vomiting, but a terrible stomach ache and no desire to eat. I wasn’t having any contractions. This is quite similar to the way my labor with Bowie started, but his started with a bang. Violent vomiting and the trots, heavy contractions.

In the evening, things got a little worse and a little worse until I was having contractions. Still very mild, but enough to make me wonder if things were getting started. I called Labor and Delivery, and because of my history of being dilated well before my due date, they wanted to see me.

While getting admitted, I had to jet off and do some major damage to a hospital bathroom, and though there was still no bleeding, I was pretty sure this was it.

Once hooked up to the monitor, they could see I was indeed having regular contractions, albeit mild. I was at 3cm and held there for a very long time. Pretty much all night. I walked around the halls of the hospital, I bounced around on a birthing ball, but not much happened. I went to bed and tried to sleep, it was about midnight at the point. I had a few contractions strong enough to wake me up, but still nothing to really write home about.

in the hospital

After I got up in the morning, I turned a corner. The contractions got really uncomfortable, and finally some blood showed up to the party. Then suddenly, after hours of seeing no one, a nurse came in and said some really antsy OB wanted to put me on Pitocin (though I don’t know what the rush was, given that they had no recovery rooms available for hours after I gave birth). I not so politely declined, saying I was having strong contractions, and no one had checked my cervix for hours, and I had never needed it in the past and certainly wasn’t going to be put on it for no reason. (Kind of a breakthrough moment for me really, I have a very hard time questioning anyone in the field of medicine. I digress.)

I was only at 6cm, but things were moving quickly. I was in a lot of pain, and seemed to be going nowhere, so I asked for an epidural. They had seriously asked me every 5 minutes since my arrival if I wanted an epidural. But suddenly the dude was nowhere to be found. In the 45 minutes that it took for the anesthesiologist to show up and hook me up to the magic juice, I had dilated from 6cm to 10cm and my water broke and it was time to deliver her. My feet and lower legs were numb, but I could feel everything else. All the contractions, the ring of fire, all of it.

I felt so damn foolish for asking for it! I did without one with Ferris, after all. But the rate at which I was dilating made the pain unbearable. I thought, if I’m only at 6cm, and this is what the contractions are like, I don’t think I can handle this anymore.  I just had no idea that I was dilating at the speed of light.

Just as the OB suggested they break my water for me, my water broke on its own. And exactly like my labor with Ferris, I immediately felt the insatiable need to push. I think about 5 pushes later, she was out. They kept saying, I see her head! Her head is out! Here come her shoulders! But I wasn’t believing a word they said. It felt like I was pushing and pushing and getting nowhere. Then, they dropped that dirty, bloody, beautiful baby girl onto my belly. One of the most surreal moments of my life. From beginning to end, this pregnancy did not seem real. Did not seem possible. And then suddenly, there she was.

We did skin-to-skin for hours, and it was glorious. She nursed within 10 minutes of being born, and I hardly even had to help her latch. Total natural. (And now she never! stops! eating!) I was not in a lot of pain afterward, but I had to sit around and wait for that stupid, worthless epidural to wear off.

And then there were the blood clots. Apparently, I had a lot of large clots in my uterus, which can sometimes mean trouble. So, they had to “massage” my uterus about every 15 minutes to get out what they could, and make sure there was no placenta left. And by “massage”, I basically mean “jackhammer.” It was extremely painful, and would cause me to have more contractions every time. And blood got everywhere. But hey, better safe than sorry.

After hours and hours of waiting for a recovery room (see earlier where I mention no need to make my labor go faster), and having visitors, and already having the billing department tell us we needed to drop $2000 before leaving (story for another time), I finally got moved to a recovery room, with a much nicer, softer bed.

Brien went home that night to be with the boys, and it was very overwhelming being all alone with this brand new baby who I knew nothing about. She would nurse for a few minutes and fall asleep. I’d put her in the bassinet and she’d wake up 10 minutes later, wanting to eat again. She wanted to nurse constantly, which, after several hours of this, I finally figured out meant she needed a pacifier. And I was just so worried, being all sleep deprived and having hormones coursing through me. I barely slept at all that first night. And there’d be many sleepless or very-little-sleep nights to come. The hospital didn’t have a nursery (!!!) or I’d definitely have taken advantage.

We arrived at home very late the next night. I kept waking up (when I would be able to snooze) and wondering when the nurse was going to come in. I was completely delusional. But, I had Brien there to help, which was a huge relief. As was learning she likes the pacifier. Total game changer.

We are a family of five now, and I still can’t believe it. It’s amazing how this perfect little something comes from basically nothing, and it’s all yours to love and cherish forever. That’s the hormones talking. We will revisit in a year, when she’s tearing through the house and making me crazy.

finley day 1

Party of Five

I have managed to carve out a few minutes to write a little blurb about how I’m doing. If you hadn’t heard, I gave birth to my baby daughter, Finley, July 18th. In an unexpected twist of events, she decided to come early, and she decided to prolong her entrance into this world much more than big brother Ferris. I will gather up a full birth story post soon.

Right now, I’m hanging in there. Like the cat on the motivational poster, I’m grabbing onto that branch for dear life, hoping I can get a leg up real soon.

I’m not getting a ton of sleep. Some, but not enough. Finley has yet to carve out her own little schedule, which is a new one for me. Both boys came out sleeping two 4-hour stretches over night, which made things very easy. Finley has a new plan every night, usually involving one initial 3- to 4-hour stretch, followed by anything from no more sleep to hourly feedings to sleeping on and off until morning, needing to be cuddled for most of that time.

Breastfeeding is just now beginning to hurt a little less each time. She knew what she was doing right away, so that wasn’t an issue at all. But I was dumb and didn’t use the cream and had cracked and bloody nipples and it was…unpleasant to nurse her. But I feel like I’ve mostly crossed the bridge to nursing champ.

Healing took longer than anticipated. As with Ferris, there was little to no damage to my undercarriage, so I was up and moving around pretty freely less than a day later. But, I decided kind of last minute to have a tubal ligation, and the surgery was hard to recover from. The spinal block messed up my insides for days, and the incision was very tender, and she basically lays right on top of it to eat. I was afraid it would get infected, or I’d pop a stitch coughing or sneezing. But, other than the fact that they tried to create a weird new belly button looking thing for me, it looks and feels fine now.

What I do know about her after two weeks of getting to know her: she LOVES to suckle. Took me a few nights of being used as her pacifier before I figured that one out. She’s going to be a pacifier kid. Which is fine. So was her big brother Bowie. And guess what. He’s a moderately well-adjusted nine year old that does not use a binky anymore. Also, she loves to be warm. Like, really warm. What I am sometimes afraid is too warm. It’s a struggle here, keeping her warm in air conditioning and cool outside, it’s a difficult balance. But she generally likes to be super warm. (Like her mama.) She hates having her diaper changed. Even when it’s fast. Feeling that draft on her bum is cause for a major protest, according to her.

The pediatrician says she’s not gaining weight fast enough. And I don’t understand that at all. Girlfriend nurses every hour, almost like clockwork. But, between her 2 day check up, jaundice check, goopy eye and regular two week check up, they have weighed her roughly 4 times in 2 weeks, so maybe she just needs some time. Her weight is holding steady, not dropping. But, you know, post partum hormones and all…I’m all anxious about it.

And mentally, I just keep bouncing back and forth between

a. I have another baby. Living in my home. Needing my attention all the time.

b. I have a baby at age 38. All the other moms with kids the same age as mine are 10 years younger than me. How am I going to relate to any of them?

c. I have a daughter. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I have to raise a daughter in our bro culture, rape culture, President Trump, sexist joke of an era. I hope I can do this justice. I hope I can send her the right messages and raise her to be the independent, intelligent badass I know she can be.

d. I’ve created a middle child. Poor Ferris is going to get lost in the folds of this family. Between having a special needs older brother and a very young sister, he’ll be lucky to get any attention. I vow to be mindful of what he needs as much as the other two, but it won’t be easy.

e. I have three kids. THREE. KIDS. I know it’s not five or six or anything, but when you have more kids than parents, all bets are off. We will find a balance, but it will likely take a few years. Lord help us.

So, here we are, a family of five. Learning a brand new dynamic. They tell you that the baby will “just fit into your life.” But the truth is, your life completely changes. You must readjust everything, find a new “normal”, move on as new and different people.

But oh, how full my heart is. I remember reading some quote about your heart making room for all of your kids, but I can’t for the life of me track down the actual quote. It’s like this for me though: whenever you’re pregnant, even with the first child, you have these moments where you wonder, how could I possibly have enough love to go around? How can I have enough room in my heart for all of this? And then the baby comes, and your heart splits wide open all over again, and you realize you’ve had that love all along, you just needed somebody to give it to. You can’t possibly use up your love reserves. There’s always more. There’s always plenty to go around.

If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant for the first time, just know that life’s going to be hectic and tiring and weird for a while, but you will figure your new family out. You will figure it all out. And you will be so happy. If you’re pregnant with your second or later, just remember that you can and will survive the early days. And then you get to know each other, and your family will feel like it’s been that way all along.

For all the worrying I did about having an unplanned third baby, it all seems to be going well. Yes, we have hospital bills to contend with. Yes, it’s hard to be on a newborn’s schedule at back-to-school time. Yes I am still running on 4 hours sleep (tops) per night. But life is humming along. Because it just does. You have no choice but to keep going. And it will be easier than you thought it would be.

Ok, with that, much love to all of you. Mothers, not mothers, new mothers, experienced mothers, pregnant or not pregnant, all of you. And, as I said, birth story is coming!

finley day 1

36 Weeks: Nesting and Realizations

I was officially 36 weeks on Monday. We’re in the last month here, folks. I can see, feel, taste, practically touch the end of this pregnancy.

Sunday was VERY exciting and also quite stressful. I woke up in the morning with lower back pain similar to my normal menstrual cramps. And I managed to get that pain to go away with a heating pad. But then I was having Braxton Hicks off and on. They’d only last for about 10 seconds or so, but they were consistent and pretty powerful, and I’d have a half hour on, an hour off, another half hour on, for quite a while. I laid down and drank a bunch of water and just tried to relax. (HAHAHAHA me, relax? Sure. But I tried.)

I napped a little, watched some Netflix, and then HELLOOOO I had a few real, actual contractions. The kind that hurt. The kind that last for a minute. Now, don’t fret, Internet. I only had three of them over the course of about five hours, not grounds for calling the doctor. But I did start to flip out. I was like, little girl, we are not officially 36 weeks until tomorrow, and I know the goal is to keep you in there for at least another week, can you not start trouble with me right now?

And the next day I felt fine. I had probably spent too much time in the heat, walking around. We went down to Tombstone for their “Freedom Days” Fourth of July celebration, and also because it was the weekend, we were bored, and it’s a nice little one-day getaway. But mama probably should have sat longer. I drank a ton of water, but it was still crazy hot. Thankfully the temps have settled down a bit, and our monsoon season should start anytime now.

I had an OB appointment that next morning, and she checked my cervix, just to be sure, given what happened with my early labor with Ferris, and I am only at 1cm, which is practically nothing for a third baby. Panic session over. For now.

But it did throw me into mega nesting mode. I had Brien get the bed all set up, I have the changing station all set up, I’m washing all the sheets, blankets, clothes, everything her teeny tiny body will be touching.

And after telling about a million people that she’s due at the end of this month, it has really dawned on me that she’s due at the end of this month. As in, anytime now. Like whenever. I could just be going about my day, and then TA-DA! Lights, camera, action!

OMG you guys, I’m going to have three kids.

34 Weeks, 113 Degrees

It got to 113 degrees today. And I stayed in air-conditioning for most of it, but holy hell. It’s hot. Even now, as I prepare to publish this, it’s 7pm and still 110.

And I’m GIGANTIC.

I am 34 weeks pregnant today. I am measuring 36 weeks, according to the OBGYN. I am huge, and I’ve gained a lot of weight. I’m sweaty. All the time. I guess the technical term for it is “glowing,” but I’m sweaty, y’all. I’ve got serious brain fog from heat, and hormones, and the stress of keeping my other two spawn busy while they are not in school.

We’ve almost got everything that we need, thanks to our wonderful, generous friends and family. I forget sometimes how far our village reaches, but have been reminded. I didn’t have to buy a stitch of clothing for her (well, I did, obvs. but I didn’t have to), and what we didn’t receive in a care package of hand-me-downs delivered right to our door, we received from our Amazon wish list, almost to completion.

All we need to buy is a carseat. Ha! That’s like the ONLY thing you need to take a baby home with you. You don’t even need diapers or clothes if you can’t swing it, but a carseat you need. And that’s the one thing we don’t have! I have begun to set up a few things. We got a new dresser and I set up a diapering station on it. And I gave baby girl the top drawer all to herself. So, I’m emerging from total denial. See, here’s how an unplanned pregnancy goes. Well, for me at least, and I’m betting a whole lot of other mamas who got surprised.

Month 1: nope.

Month 2: nope.

Month 3: I can start telling people, but it’s not really happening. Nope.

Month 4: nope.

Month 5: nope.

Month 6: Ok, maybe there’s something in there.

Month 7: There may or may not be a baby coming. I can’t say for sure.

Month 8: Well, crap.

So, it’s been weird preparing for her, all the while sort of denying that any of this was actually happening. It felt theoretical. Hypothetical. But nope, she’s real. She’s real and she kicks the crap out of my ribs, and punches my bladder, and gets the hiccups in the middle of the night, and she’s coming, and everyone in her life is thrilled. Yes, even mama, finally.

Yes, once I re-learn how to breastfeed, and diaper her, and make sure she’s the right temperature all the time (because, see, this information was removed to make room for 3rd grade math and preschool snack days and the main roads in Tucson) I’m sure it will be a joy, just like it was when her big brothers came into my life.

Anxiety-wise, this has been one of the most difficult times in my life. Just when I start seeing a psychiatrist here in Tucson, just when I begin to make progress with CBT, and continue to be successfully sober, I get this giant bomb dropped on my whole life. It set me back, WAAAAAAAY back. But somehow I think I’ve come out the other end, mostly intact. Yes, I realize the hardest days are in front of me, but I’ve got a good set of safe coping mechanisms and the love of my friends and family to see me through.

I’m hoping she comes early. I’m getting an early vibe. I’ve been having contractions like crazy (I mean, the fake kind, and not in any regular pattern, but contractions nonetheless). And if my trend of having babies continues, my 36 or 37 week appointment, whenever they do an internal exam, will put me into labor. And she’ll be out in like, an hour. But, we’ll see. All babies are different. She’ll come when she’s ready.

(Which better be early.)

Thanks for seeing this thing through with me.

34 weeks