Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dichotomy of Mom Feelings

So I've had the beginnings of what I think is a poem rolling around in my head for a month or so now. I haven't tried sitting down to write it, and I don't think this will be the time, but I envision it becoming a dance so I'd really like to try it at some point. The gist of it is the roller coaster of emotions that a mom experiences in a single day. Seriously, the highest highs and the lowest lows, all within minutes of one another.

Today it suddenly occurred to me as I was feeling super annoyed with both my children (yes, it feels terrible but I get annoyed with my baby--gasp), I became fully aware that it was my own bad attitude that was making them seem difficult or act annoying. And while realizing that if I would just change my attitude and lighten up, we would all be happier, I just thought, I want to be grumpy. I choose this bad mood.

Contrast that with tonight as I laid with Corbin, wishing he would fall asleep, only to end up spending a few extra moments just to look at him sleep. I was thinking, this is my baby. How can he be sometimes so equally my greatest joy and my greatest terror. Three year olds seem to be a delicate balance. I sense the impending tantrums, and sometimes I walk on eggshells a bit to try to avert them. It's the screaming, and the messes, and the waking up Jude. It's the not feeling in control. Corbin doesn't tantrum an excessive amount. He's actually quite reasonable I think, for a three year old. He's very communicative, and I've learned ways to empower him so really, I'm not complaining about the tantrums. But when they happen, they're pretty big. And let's be honest, I like things calm.

While I'm venting, my other annoyance today is nursing. I'm considering weaning. It's so annoying to feed a tired or distracted baby. Seriously, hand me a bottle. They don't spray all over my shirt and bra every time he decides to take a break.

Lest I sound like the most negative mom in the world, I'll add the disclaimer that Dustin was home sick from work today--so I was a bit on edge, I suppose. And funny to say this since yesterday I felt all romantic about our life in St George, but really, the whole tiny house thing is getting old. I need Jude in his own room, and I need him to not hear Corbin tantrum during his naps. Haha!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

32nd Birthday

This birthday was exactly what I needed. Our family just successfully completed a month "sans" dad (technically it was 5 weeks, but I was probably the only one counting). It was rough. Dustin was up north for some training and I was home with Corbin and Jude, getting a crash course in single parenting. I applaud all parents who try to do this on their own.

Anyway, needless to say, I was in much need of some "me" time to sort of regroup. I accepted to substitute two classes at the college on my birthday. When my friend Katherine asked me if I minded doing it on my birthday, I have to say, I was pretty excited to spend my birthday in the studio. I miss teaching and I especially miss having something in my life that is "my thing."

So I spent a few hours teaching and the boys were with a sitter, and the house didn't fall apart, and their worlds didn't spin into a tizzy. I think I needed to see that. There's something about having a new baby that can "only" get food from mom, fall asleep with mom (and even though it's not true, it doesn't stop me from feeling that way) that makes you feel like you carry the weight of at least your children's world on your shoulders. Jude is 7 months so I feel like we are starting to sever that tie a bit. And although there are things I love about my tiny new babies, I do believe more than ever this time around that weaning is good for both parties.

So my time teaching yesterday made me realize that even three days a week of just a couple hours out of the house doing something that engages me with other adults would be a game changer for me in this whole stay at home mom thing. I need it, and I think I'm a better mom if I have it. So that's big for me on the agenda when we get moved and settled in Mesa. Dustin is hoping that "that thing" will be working with him at Kneaders. The jury is still out on that. :)

My birthday ended with an amazing dinner at a restaurant named Cliffside, overlooking a beautiful view of the city. Earlier that day, as I walked into the college, perfect weather, headed to a job I've enjoyed for the last 4 years, I had the word "spoiled" pop into my head. I truly felt spoiled--Somehow I've been able to start my family, enjoy being a stay at home mom while keeping my foot in the door at a job I truly love, getting paid to do what I love, while living in this sort of idyllic little town with awesome weather and great people. So the view of the city at dinner was just the perfect capstone--sometimes I do feel like I have it all. Really, I am a fortunate girl. And then cherry on the top, I went to ballet class and rehearsal to end the night while Dustin took the boys home to bed. Yes indeed, the best birthday a dancer mom could ask for.


A Year in the Life

About a month ago, I finished the journal I started when Dustin and I got married--so apparently it contains four years of marriage, three pregnancies, one miscarriage, and the events of the births and first adventures of two sons' early years. It's probably the best journal I've written...so far. In my debate what to do next for my journaling, I decided to keep one for each of my boys. I hope I can keep this up because I want to fill them with the funny things they say and do, and my thoughts about the amazingness that is watching them grow and learn each day.

But the past few days, I have had these urges (maybe they are impressions) to continue to write my own thoughts about everything going on in our family and in the world. I haven't been great about blogging, but I've decided to try it for a year. Yesterday was my 32nd birthday, and I plan to blog about my 33rd year and then print it into a book at the end of the year. Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Shay, for the inspiration. Maybe I will share some posts, and sometimes I will just use it as a journal. Of course, there may be a person or two who chooses to follow my every entry just to know what I ate for lunch. Please comment if you are actually reading these posts, so I'll know to spice up my lunches. ;-)

So there's the intro...and here's to a great year!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jude's Amazing Timing

After my due date passed, February 6th, with no real signs of labor on the horizon, I began wondering what day Baby Jude would actually join our family. I actually needed the extra time because I hadn't yet felt a real nesting urge, or the little I had felt had seemed too overwhelming to embark on the list of projects. Preparing a 740 sq foot house for a SECOND child felt like a bit more than I could chew at 39 and 40 weeks pregnant. :-)

It occurred to me as Valentine's Day approached that we were at the one year mark of the miscarriage that had ended a pregnancy right before this. It made me realize that although at the time it felt like forever, we had actually been blessed with a healthy pregnancy quite quickly following the miscarriage. Then, I looked at the calendar and thought, Jude might make his entrance on the 18th--that would be the exact one year mark of the actual passing. I didn't feel necessarily that the 18th was significant, just in general that the Lord was blessing us with a beautiful healthy baby exactly one year from our loss. My dad, who my mom says accurately predicted the birthdays of most their kids, guessed Jude would be here on Monday the 16th. Being 41 weeks and feeling swollen and uncomfortable, I hoped he was right.

But again, the extra time really was a blessing. The house felt more ready than I thought it could. My parents took Corbin for a long Presidents' Day weekend visit which gave Dustin and I some much needed rest and time together. An extra Sunday at church hearing so many people wonder when I would be induced strengthened my resolve to resist medical norms and allow nature to take its course. I felt it confirmed to me that Jude's arrival was between me, Jude, and Heavenly Father. And the best part, I finally recognized and expressed some fears I had about labor, birth, and becoming a mom of two. It was a conversation I needed to have with Dustin and it didn't happen till the night before Jude was born.

So Dad was right, but we didn't think he would be. I went to my prenatal appointment on Monday morning, not a sign of labor. My midwife stripped my membranes (don't look that up if you don't want to get TMI--my mom described it to my dad as something like breaking your water to get labor going to which he said, maybe I don't want to know...) It did get some contractions going, and she said I was dilated close to a 4. This was great news to me because it took about 8 hours of labor with Corbin to get to a 4. I was hoping that meant labor would be cut in half this time. (Corbin was 16 hours). Anyway, a few small contractions got going, but nothing significant and my midwife said it's about a 50/50 chance that it will develop into actual labor. At 12:30 I went home with those small contractions and assumed that even if they developed, I was likely to labor into the night. Jude might be born early Tuesday, I thought.

Mom thought the same thing when I told her I was getting some small consistent contractions. She offered to keep Corbin one more night just in case I kept progressing. Then things started rolling so quickly. Dustin and I decided to go for a walk to the store to try to encourage the contractions. By the time I was done going to the bathroom in preparation for our walk, I noticed I didn't want to put pants on. I started pacing the house and breathing through contractions that were coming about two minutes apart. I told Dustin a walk didn't sound good anymore. But I did notice that I felt very excited. I told Dustin, I'm excited to have this baby. I'm not scared like I was when labor started with Corbin. I was so pleased to enter it with this enthusiasm. It probably helped that I was truly hoping not to be pregnant for one more day!

I texted my midwife that contractions were getting stronger but they weren't quite a minute long yet so I figured they weren't hard enough even though they were coming 1-2 minutes apart. Dustin and I set about preparing the house. We got the crockpot going for hot towels. I suggested we make the bed. When I had to drop to my hands and knees every couple minutes to get through the contractions, I said, sorry I can't help with the bed, and wondered if I should call my midwife. The extent of our "birth plan" this time was to ignore labor as long as possible so it wouldn't feel like an all day event of timing contractions and feeling exhausted by the end. So I decided to hold off on calling her.

Fortunately, she called me at about 3:30. She asked if I could get in a hot shower or bath to see if the contractions would stop. I said, ya I was just thinking a hot shower sounded good. Then a contraction came and she heard me breathing through it. She said," Oh, you are breathing through those. I'll just come over." I showered while she came and heard Dustin vacuuming the living room. I thought it was sweet that he wanted to get the house all ready. But by the time I got out of the shower, and still heard the vacuum, I was so annoyed that he was vacuuming. That's when I decided this was real labor. I thought, he's totally focusing on the wrong thing! But I just said, "I need you now" and dropped to my hands and knees. I was on all 4's most of this labor.

The contractions weren't giving me very long breaks--they were definitely coming a minute apart. When Cyndi (midwife) got to our house and saw me get two right in a row, she said, I'm not going to do the IV because you don't have four hours. (I was Group B Strep positive this time so I was supposed to get an IV of antibiotics during labor, but the antibiotics have to be in your system for at least four hours to take effect.) I of course was celebrating in my head that she thought this would go that quickly, but Dustin and I were both prepared for it to go much longer. I didn't want to get my hopes up.

The birth assistant Lisa came. She agreed with Cyndi that I was progressing quickly. Dustin and I just sort of hoped they were right. In the meantime, mom was wondering if I was progressing. She sent a text to check on me, to which she received no response until two hours later when we sent her a pic of me happily holding Jude. I was shocked it had gone that quickly and knew she would be too. It was pretty fun to send her that surprise.

When labor goes that quickly, even though I had different pain management techniques that worked with Corbin and planned to use again, I just didn't have time to even think of them. Fortunately, my birth team started doing some things for me. At one point someone placed a hot towel on my back, and I said, oh ya, thank you. I forgot how good those feel. Dustin started pushing on my back, and it came back to me--oh ya, he did that for every contraction all day when I was in labor with Corbin. Yes, that helps. The contractions were coming so fast that mostly all I could think to do was survive--breathe through that one and then rest in between.

At one point, Lisa was telling me she would try doing a hip compression on the next contraction. I felt this urge to run away. I knew that meant transition, but I couldn't believe I was actually there already. I thought, you can't just "decide" you are in transition Jennie. You probably just want to run away because you know what is coming now. But I knew it was a definite rush of adrenaline like I felt like I could and should run away. I went back in the bedroom and said I was feeling hot and cold flashes, which I also remembered were part of transition and pushing with Corbin. Soon, I started grunting and groaning a bit with the contractions. Lisa said that I sounded "pushy" and asked if I felt like pushing. I was kind of floored by the question as I hadn't felt like my body directed the pushing necessarily with Corbin. I didn't feel like I would know to push until Cyndi told me I was at a 10. Boy was I wrong. Your body definitely tells you to push, and you really can't not push at that point.

So Lisa said to try pushing a little with one and if it hurts, I'm not ready. I went back to lay down on the bed and try to rest from hands and knees. There were one or two contractions that seemed long and had double peaks. I felt like Dustin couldn't push hard enough on my back in that position, but I didn't have time between contractions to change positions. Cyndi said I sounded "pushy" again, and I definitely felt the need to put a little pressure around the contractions. Dustin put his hand on my hip to give a little leverage for pressing on my back and I felt like my legs were being squeezed together. My whole body went into panic mode--I was like I've got to get my legs open! So I finally believed that he might be coming. I hurried and sat up to the position I had used to push Corbin. One contraction there and I was like heck no, we are not pushing like that. Cyndi said, yes, that's a nice position for the movies. Get back on your hands and knees--haha.

I didn't love hands and knees because I was tired, but I felt like I had much more control over my body that way. It was pretty amazing to curl my back during a contraction and see my stomach muscles pushing the baby down. It was almost involuntary and yet, I felt like I was working. Cyndi started to prepare me for delivery with oils and hot towels, and that was really helpful to get me to trust that indeed, this is the time to push. She did finally tell me there was just a small lip that needed to open before I was at a 10. She figured one more contraction. I felt renewed, even though I think I was still yelling, "I can't do this!" One more contraction and my water broke. I could feel baby right there, but it still was hard to trust that I could get him out. I was so much more aware of my body and how it was working this time, which was really cool, but at the same time, a bit lacking confidence that I could do it. Finally I felt that ring of fire, and was pretty sure baby was going to be stuck there. Cyndi told me to hold back and just breathe while he crowned. It took a lot to calm down but I knew I needed to. I was getting hysteric and she was probably trying to help me not tear (which was unsuccessful, but still a bit better than with Corbin).

Jude seemed to come out all in one push. She told me he had tons of hair, but I hadn't felt the relief of his head coming out like I had felt so significantly with Corbin. And yet, the next thing I knew, she was passing my baby to me under my legs. I was in total shock. He was beautiful. He felt like such a gift. And I just sat back on my feet and held him and felt amazed. I felt the empowerment this time that many natural birth moms had told me about. I felt totally energized and in the best mood ever. It was like one extreme to another in 2 seconds.

We decided to count labor as starting at 3:30 because that was the time I saw on the clock when I felt like I couldn't ignore the contractions. So when they said he was born at 5:30, I was like, it's only been 2 hours?!?! Probably the most intense two hours of my life, but really, so amazing that we went through that whole process in just two hours! I felt like Heavenly Father had more than answered my prayers with a daytime labor and shorter than I ever thought possible. And I was amazed that Dad was right and Jude arrived on Monday the 16th--in just the time that he was supposed to.

In the end, we think my dates may have been off because Jude's gestational age was 40 weeks. So the lesson I learned there is to just add two weeks to your estimated due date and not get your hopes up that you are close until you are closer to the 2 week post-date time frame. That extra week and some is pretty killer.

So happy to have our Jude here. Can't wait to see him learn and grow and especially become good friends with his big brother, Corbin--who I can't complain one bit about his sweet love for his new Baby Jude. Love my boys and feel so blessed to have them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

This and That

As I was scrolling aimlessly through my Facebook newsfeed, contemplating how my husband can fall asleep so quickly, and come to think of it, I also wonder how husbands learn to sleep through baby cries, but that is another post... I was actually thinking about how I sometimes think badly/tease/worry about/look down on (not sure what to call it) when people seem to post every little thing about their day on Facebook. I think, shouldn't we all spend a little more time living life, enjoying face-to-face relationships rather than cataloguing it on social media. And then it gets to be 10:00 at night and I can't sleep, and I wish more of my friends were posting little details about their lives. Ironic. Tonight I thought, my concern shouldn't be about the people posting all the time. They are living life, and think everything they do is so exciting everyone will want to know about it. What I should worry about is when I can just sit and aimlessly scroll through the newsfeed hoping there will be something interesting because clearly, I'm doing nothing interesting.

But you see, I know that's not the case. I do think my life is interesting, and I'm doing things I want to be doing, but we just get into these veg modes. So tonight, rather than waiting online for someone to post something interesting about their life, I will take a moment to be grateful for my own day.

My favorite thing about today was spending about 20 minutes looking through photo books with Corbin. We look at books regularly and I love it because it's the only time I can get him to sit on my lap. But looking at photo books today was special because it made me realize how blessed I've been to have good friends and faithful family all my life. I noticed some ex-girlfriends of family members in my wedding photos, and even my own ex-boyfriend had been there. I thought how sometimes we worry about the awkwardness of having those people in family photos after the relationship has ended. But today, it occurred to me that many people are meant to be in our lives for only a short time, and seeing them in a photo can just be a reminder of the blessing it is to make our own decisions and find our path a little at a time. God blessed the broken road--that sort of thing.

Then this afternoon I ran into a former coworker at the grocery store. She worked the front desk at the school I used to teach at and her daughter was in my class. For some reason, when she said hi to me, I was taken back to seeing her at the front desk of that school. And I thought, I'm a grown-up now. I almost felt like I needed to tell her, I've grown up since you last saw me. I'm married and I have a child and I run my household with a budget, and I coupon and meal plan! It's not that she thinks I'm a child, or that I was necessarily immature when I worked there, but I just felt like I had made some progress in life since seeing her, and that felt good.

I noticed again today just how monotonous the days are as a stay-at-home mom, but I didn't resent it. I feel like Corbin and I both thrive on the structure of a schedule. But I have to laugh sometimes at how truly monotonous the days are. Sleep routine is bottle and book at naps, and bath, bottle, book at bedtime. And every time I say anything about books, he says "Car!" but it sounds more like "Caw"--and it means he wants to read his book about trucks. We always read that one first. Then he has about three others that he likes, and I try really hard to only read two.

He has a new song he loves from the Wiggles and it's so cute because he does the actions with it. If ever I walk toward the TV, he starts saying "Wee" for Wiggles or "Shh shh shh" for the song, Rockabye Your Bear". We watch that song now at least once a day I would say.

The thing that made me feel accomplished today was getting my kitchen almost totally organized and decluttering my living room. I also got a little bit of my wardrobe switched out and our tax returns started. And my guilty pleasure of the day was three episodes of Downton Abbey. Dustin and I watched one at lunch and two tonight before bed. What will we do when we finish all the seasons?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tender Mercies

I feel so blessed right now to have my eyes opened to the tender mercies that have been given me along this path. Looking back now, I realize the timing of discovering our loss was the best it could have been. I probably would have known about a week sooner. However, because scheduling didn't work out for an extra appointment then, we ended up finding out just two days after a beautiful temple visit. We had not been to the temple in probably six months, and things completely fell into place for us to go just the Saturday before we learned of the miscarriage. The temple teaches us amazing things about our purpose here on earth and I was so grateful to have been given that greater perspective once again before facing this great challenge. I didn't realize in that temple session how much I would cling to that peace in the coming days, but now, I am so grateful that the Lord saw fit to prepare me spiritually.

I think most people experience ups and downs when they are grieving, and I have been no different. But in the midst of a very down morning yesterday, I received an email from a good friend who had also experienced a missed miscarriage. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear, and the insights she shared that she gained from her own experience reminded me that I can and SHOULD seek answers to my questions. I know much of the answers will require time and effort on my part to study, ponder, and commune with God, and some questions may not have specific answers for me until after this life. But one thing I have come to realize is that creating a child is a team effort which involves God. I always knew that pregnancy and birth were a miracle, but this experience has helped me see more poignantly that when women bring children into the world through their wombs, they are partnered with God in bringing about his eternal purposes. He does have a say in the timing of it, and I received the impression last night that we are to involve Him and seek His counsel in the decisions we make regarding our family.

I really wonder how much I should share regarding this. Part of me wants to be open and honest because I feel like miscarriage is almost taboo and you don't realize how many around you have experienced it until you go through it yourself. They come out of the woodwork. And I also feel like the light I've received could be so helpful to other women in a similar situation, or their family members who are struggling with the loss. But something tells me that the answers are for me right now, and maybe at some future point I will feel impressed to share them with some specific person. So I will just share this: I do know that God is aware of us. He prepares the way for us to accomplish the things which He asks us to do. He knows some things will be hard--not because He GIVES us hard things, but because we live in a world where bad things happen. But I do believe He aches for our heartaches just as any parent feels when they watch a child get hurt or struggle. And so He provides tender mercies along the way to encourage us to keep going, and to help us know we are not alone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting for Our Baby

We found out yesterday the sad news that Baby #2 will not be joining our family at this time. I feel like writing about the experience will be therapeutic for me, but I also hope that in sharing some of what I learned, I might help other moms better understand this process, or friends and family who have never experienced this themselves, might also understand. It's not what I had pictured.

To begin, I'm pretty sure I'm 13-14 weeks along in the pregnancy. However, at my first appointment, where I thought I would be about 12 (two weeks ago), we couldn't find a heartbeat. My midwife said I was measuring smaller, so we just assumed I was wrong on my dates. I had been pretty unsure so I tried not to worry.

My midwife invited me back to look for the heartbeat so I went back in on Monday of this week. Most of this time, I've had some sort of sense that the baby wasn't there. I don't know if that's just because I still hadn't heard a heartbeat (which is kind of the reality check for early pregnancy), or if I genuinely sensed the loss. I did worry that maybe the baby wasn't developing correctly and there would be some sort of issues or handicap, but I think every pregnant woman has those concerns. But I still thought that if I was going to miscarry, I would just suddenly bleed. I don't think I had ever heard that the baby could just stay in there, dead.

With a significant reduction in my pregnancy symptoms, I decided I better go check for the heartbeat again. I was pretty sure I had to be at least 10 weeks by now. We still couldn't find a heartbeat. My midwife tried to stay positive and sent me to get an ultrasound to "check my dates and size" but knowing that midwives are pretty good at finding heartbeats, I was pretty sure there wasn't one.

When I scheduled the ultrasound, I said that we were "checking size and dates," but after explaining the situation, the receptionist said it was a "diagnosis". That confirmed my belief that my midwife was just trying to stay positive.

Dustin told me to wait until it was confirmed so I wouldn't stress for no reason, but I just had to understand what I was possibly and quite likely heading into. So I began to research miscarriage online. I quickly discovered that it's quite common (most sites say 10-25% of pregnancies and some even said 30%), but there were plenty stories of moms in my situation, where they knew the baby had passed, but they were still waiting for their body to abort it.

That is the hardest part I think. I know it will probably be harder to actually pass the baby, but right now, it's hard to be waiting. My midwife called it being pregnant when you know you are not and saying goodbye before you get to say hello.

I always thought that I would be okay with a miscarriage because they usually happen so early, you almost don't feel like you are pregnant yet. I imagined that I would just understand that that body wasn't going to work and so either that spirit is coming later, or we will meet him in the Millennium. And although I do understand that, I can't help but feel the loss for now. Before I had my ultrasound yesterday, I chose to still attend my ballet class. The teacher played a beautiful song for plies--she called it a lullaby. I might have held it together had she not used that specific word. But where dancing has always been a special emotional place for me, and the lullaby was so beautiful, I became overwhelmed with the thoughts that I'm not going to get to hold this baby. I'm not going to sing him to sleep.

It was an important lesson for me. Although I hate to openly admit it, getting pregnant is always a push-pull for me. As a dancer, I sense a bit of loss having to take to the sidelines, and even though having Corbin (my first) has already taught me that there can be no greater joy, I still entered this pregnancy with the same battle. I had just gotten back into dancing quite regularly, and in some ways, I felt I was in my prime. But I knew there was a time and a season for all things, and having children is a window of opportunity that I don't get back once it is closed. But as I had those thoughts running through my mind during plies, I realized that given the choice between dancing and holding my baby, I will always choose the baby.

Having children is a great blessing, and opposition in all things is the lesson we learn here in this life. I'm grateful for my knowledge of God's plan and for the Atonement of Jesus Christ which will set all things right. The more I've contemplated what I will write in this post, the greatest witness I have felt is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ sets all things right. I remember after I had Corbin, I was amazed by two things: 1. That my mom (and all other mothers) had gone through that really hard experience, and done it AGAIN and again and again, and 2. That if Christ experienced ALL things in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, he had felt that pain. He always knows our pain, and therefore he can teach us how to handle it in a God-like manner. And thus, through our pains and sorrows, we find the opportunity to become more like Him.

So yes, I am doing okay. It's not that I feel like this baby wasn't a human yet. It's not that I don't feel a loss. I feel blessed to have the family I do have, and I feel blessed to see a bigger picture of our purpose here on earth. I'm calling this post, "Waiting for Our Baby" because I do feel that I will meet him or her at another time.