30 April 2007

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back

A few weeks ago I received a very nice compliment. I smiled and kind of looked at the floor, shuffled my feet a little and muttered "Aw, thanks" with a half wink for good measure. Afterwards my mind was flooded with a ton of different thoughts, "Phew, I'm doing pretty well", "Wow, do people really see me this way?", "Am I deceiving them?", Great, I'm a phony.", "I hate being made into an example.", "She's right!", "It's about time I got some recognition!". Later I asked my husband, over and over, if he thought I was a genuine person.

So, I got to thinking... how common is it for women to turn away from compliments? Think back to the last time you received a compliment and how you responded. It's in our nature as women, moreso I think as moms, to downplay our accomplishments. And we tend to focus a lot on the negatives - blowing them out of proportion in our minds - when a lot of times those negatives are what make you a better woman. Take, for instance, my insecurity about cooking healthy meals for my children. I float in and out of vigilance in this area, sometimes rationalizing that by the end of the day I really just need to have things be easy (as I guiltily/wearily pull out the macaroni and cheese). While it may not be the dinner of champions, it's one area where I am good at letting go a bit... and letting go does not come very naturally to me. I take a look at the well balanced lunches I send to school and low sugar diet we maintain, and have to call it good on some nights. Thank goodness over all success (say, in motherhood) is not about one event. It's about wanting what's best and doing my best. Sure, I'm capable of that extra 45 minutes over the stove, but I may not be in the mood to kiss anybody good night, which to me is more important.

It's just one small way we neglect ourselves, avoiding compliments. I think it would do us all some good to look at ourselves in the mirror and give ourselves a good pat on the back! Maybe even a few affirmations (which feel silly but really do work) will reposition our thinking, so that the next time we receive a compliment we can actually stand a little taller and say "thank you".

Txmommy over at Too Many to Count has some beautifully written and very inspiring thoughts for the last Woman to Woman. She did not get a chance to post them until Saturday, so if you get a chance you really should stop by and read it.

27 April 2007

Ah, so that's where you've been!

There are few things I enjoy more than a good mess to tackle. What about you? Hmmm? Not so much? Well, that's a shame, because I woke up to find a nice big variety of mold spores in my recently thawed out freezer. Yep... the smell knocked me into last week! And I'd be happy to share the joy of cleaning it out with anyone. Anyone?

I also have a particular fondness for mucous - thick, green gobs of it, actually. What's that? You wish you had two uber icky noses to wipe all day long, too? What a coincidence!!! Because here in Texas 75% of the population is flowing with it, thanks to the fiercest allergens on the planet. And chances are you'll be so caught up in your child's noses that you won't realize the sight of your own... that is, until you look in the rearview mirror on your way to church and realize you could have rolled out of bed and come as you are and not a soul would have noticed a difference.

If you'd like, I can arrange for you to visit the dentist and afterwards deal with the worst possible case of TMJ ever. Appealing, ain't it? And then, how about stomach cramps from the ibuprofren that barely takes the edge off your pain? Oh - and it gets better! (cue clapping and hurrahs) Your first post partum period will force its way back into your life like those pesky free offers you get from telemarketers... "Womanhood here! Get your free womanhood! The only hidden cost to you is your sanity!"

Perhaps my FAVORITE thing, however, and the highlight of my week I might add, is cleaning poop out of the carpet. Nothing like getting on your hands and knees and scrubbing that delightful stuff out tiny fibers! Don't get too carried away though, because while you are laboring over that, your 2 year old might decide to empty a few water bottles, stuff the toilet bowl with toilet paper, and clamor as loudly as possible downstairs in the kitchen so that your 9 month old can awaken from her nap and add to the chaos join in the fun.

So many great reasons for not blogging. But I miss you bloggy world. My mess free, stress free bloggy world. You allude me.

I suspect that not one more thing could go wrong around here... I've filled my quota! So I shall return with some of that positive stuff I like to write about so much very soon. Hugs and kisses to all!

24 April 2007

Woman to Woman

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"Enduring health problems - either your own, a spouse's or a child's"

My experiences with poor health have revolved primarily around preterm labor and delivery.

My pregnancy with my first child, since I had nothing to compare it to, seemed normal. I am a busy body, and I certainly didn't slow down when I first conceived! But when I reached the 36 week mark and was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced, with Adriana's head engaged, my OBGYN raised an eyebrow. Actually both. Suddenly I was alerted to the fact that I was tired and sore and oh yeah, a little crampy. I delivered my daughter 3 days later, despite resting, not knowing I could have prevented it much earlier. She was in the NICU for just 4 days, but those 4 days were brutal. I delivered her at 10:26 pm and they whisked her off to run their tests. My husband stayed with her while I was wheeled on to recovery. I could not walk yet; I pushed for 3 hours around a very effective epidural to get her out. About 1:30 am he checked in with me and told me that she was on oxygen and may have pneumonia and was taking antibiotics and had had a bottle, but not really because she was not hungry and couldn't breathe well enough to suck and swallow. Um, hello? Where was my babymoon? I held a polaroid of my daughter close to my heart that night, worrying about how lonely she must have felt in that NICU, as I would not get to be with her until the next morning. My recovery continued to be slow. I was in a wheel chair for a couple days, but I think that feeling overwhelmed emotionally is really what stalled my resiliency. Adriana would go on to have severe reflux, strabismus, gross motor delays and receptive speech delays. The strabismus has required 4 eye surgeries, all before the age of 3. And her other delays were resolved with therapy by Kindergarten. She is now a thriving 2nd grader.

My second pregnancy ended early in miscarriage.

My pregnancy with my second child proceeded normally until at 27 weeks I went into full labor. My husband was out of town on business. It was perhaps the scariest moment of my life. I had a friend, also pregnant and due at about the same time as I was, take me to the hospital. Everyone scurried to the attention of 2 pregnant women walking through the doors hanging onto each other for dear life. I was immediately placed in a room, monitored and checked and I was indeed in labor and at 1cm and 75% effaced, with baby at 0 station. The OBGYN on call came in and briefly told me what they would do... first terbutaline, then magnesium sulfate - if necessary - to stop my labor. He was as assuring as he could have been in that situation... he knew it would be several hours before my husband could be with me and that he'd better try to at least put off delivery until then. The terbutaline proved 100% ineffective as I continued to have contractions every few minutes, and so they put me on the "mag". Let me tell you, this stuff is awful. AWFUL! It totally slows down all your bodily functions... to the point where I could hardly even control my throat well enough to swallow food. I felt like my body weighed a thousand tons, my face like it was on fire and my heart like it was beating, very slowly and loudly, inside my head. The magnesium also would have normally required that I be cathetered, but that only made me contract more, so I had to manage a bedpan, which when you feel somewhat paralyzed, is not an easy feat. My labor was successfully stopped, but I had to spend the next 7 weeks in bed, with only bathroom priveleges. I had a 3 year old daughter at that point, and she was shuffled off here, there and everywhere during the day while my husband worked and lied in bed. After work, he came home and took care of us, physically, and me, emotionally. Thankfully meals and house cleaning was covered by the Relief Society at church. I made it to 35 weeks before giving birth to Jonah. He spent a week in the NICU for a variety of small issues including respiratory distress, failure to maintain his body temperature, failure to gain weight, low blood sugar - those types of things. But we gladly took him home, all 5 lbs. 11 oz. of him, when the time came. My emotions at this time were extremely positive. Having been through the NICU ordeal with Adriana (although not nearly to the same extent) helped tremendously. I was not going to be a victim this time. I bounced back quickly and faithfully pumped every 3 hours, faithfully arrived at the hospital at 7am every morning to feed Jonah, and faithfully sat by his bed all day reading to him, singing to him, and talking to him. Jonah's future problems would include a heart murmur, severe reflux and allergies, speech impediments, and sensory issues. He is still in therapy, but expected to progress in school at a normal pace, and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.

By the time I was pregnant with my third, all my doctors (which now included a high risk perinatologist) were on alert, from day 1. I was put on preventative restrictions around 20 weeks... no cleaning or lifting and 3 rest periods off my feet daily. I didn't have any productive contractions (I was always contracting though) or dilation until about 33weeks, when they again put me on complete bedrest (until 36 weeks). At that point I was 4cm and 100% effaced, but Drew was still high. I held out until 38.5 weeks this time! Being born full term, we did not expect Drew to have any delays or extenuating health problems. He was, however, diagnosed with hemiplegia or right side assymetry, when he was just a few months old. I notcied that his head was always turned to the left, and that he could not control his right arm when he rolled over (it would constantly get stuck underneath him). Later crawling and then walking became awkward as he could not bear much weight on his right leg. He began physical and later occupational therapy and is still undergoing those therapies today.

By now I am sure you are wondering why on earth I went on to conceive little Miss Sasha. All I can say is that she needed to come to this family. It was a feeling neither I or my husband could deny, and so we cautiously entered a 4th pregnancy. And we approached everything differently. I had the same set of restrictions around 20 weeks as I'd had with Drew, plus got progesterone shots weekly throughout the last half of the pregnancy. But I also decided that I needed to have a different mindset this time around. We wondered how much the stress of my pregnancies contributed to the health problems of our babies (as they'd all had issues, but not all been premature). And so came the idea of having a very natural zen-like approach to delivery. Throughout the weeks leading up to her birthdate, I meditated, practiced anxiety suppressing breathing exercises, met with a doula, and learned all I possibly could about natural childbirth (consuming around 8 books on the matter). My contractions were more subdued and my mentality was calm and tranquil. I just knew everything would be alright. And it was... it was the perfect ending to a long, difficult-to-endure journey to complete our family. She has a beautiful birth story, which you can read here. She is 9.5 months old now, and with the exception of reflux and a recently resolved allergy to dairy, she's perfectly healthy in every way.

As hard as my pregnancies have been, I'd go on to have more children if I felt it were right. Nothing has brought me more joy than they have. From those first little flutters in the womb to the pitter patter of feet all over my home, I am happy. It's been 100% worth the enduring trials that have accompanied their arrival.

Please sign Mr. Linky, both here and over at Morning Glory's, and I'll catch up with you all as soon as I get a chance!!!

18 April 2007

Next Woman to Woman

Our topic on April 24th will be "Enduring health problems - either your own, a spouse's or a child's". I know there are many bloggers out there who post almost exclusively about their hardship with health issues... there are women out there struggling with infertility, there are children out there with debilitating diseases, there are spouse's who need constant care and attention. Some of us may only know somebody dealing with these challenges and have observed how they cope. Others of us may have personal experience with having to endure such difficulties. Please share your stories, whatever they may be!

Again, if you need the button codes, feel free to email Morning Glory or myself.

If you're new to Woman to Woman and would like to know more, click here. A schedule of topics is listed here.

16 April 2007

"Spajama" party

For Adriana's 8th birthday party we did a "spajama" party. Adriana picked pink and orange as her colors. Everyone came in their pj's, but did not spend the night. And they got pedicures. They also decorated pillowcases (plain white that I put pink ribbon around to dress up a bit) with fabric markers.

The invitations looked like this:
The table was made to look like a bed.

We served pizza rolls (pillow shaped), sushi (rice krispy treats wrapped in fruit-by-the-foot with a jelly belly bean stuck in the middle), potato chips, lollipops and cake.
The cake idea came from Family Fun... I had so much fun decorating it.

Orange balloons scattered the floor. Hot pink streamers, lights and lanterns gave the room a lounge-y feel. I got a few magazines (Highlights, National Geographic for kids) for the girls to thumb through while they got their toe nails painted, and they watched "Charlotte's Web".

This was probably my favorite birthday party yet. A lot of prep work, but the party itself was so enjoyable... not stressful at all.

13 April 2007

Pictures, pictures

Well, Easter was grand at our house. My daughter turned eight and was baptized the day before! I don't think she'll ever forget this weekend. If not for the timing of everything, than because I took a million pictures!

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More to come... her "spajama" party is tomorrow night!


Did you miss Woman to Woman? Our next installment will be on April 24th. You can find a schedule of future topics here!

09 April 2007

Woman to Woman:Parenting children with difficult personalities

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Give me babies any day, but 2-5 year olds can be really complicated little people. The toddler/preschool age has been a real challenge around here. I'm sure you're all saying to yourselves, "No, really? Toddlers? Difficult?" Lol. But on top of the usual challenges of exerting their independence and testing boundaries, etc., etc., etc. our children have had issues with communication (delayed speech), sensory dysfunction and body awareness.

Both of my boys have energy in excess. They do not walk. Anywhere. Not from one room to the next even. Because of their need for constant sensory input, they also run into things, and people. Purposely. It feels good to them. We give lots and lots of big bear hugs in this house. They are very soothing and very calming. We wrestle, we tickle, we have lots of pillow fights. The boys prefer to sleep under heavy blankets, even in the summer time. They have "chewys" to wear around the neck for that impulsive need to bite on something.

They are both in occupational therapy once a week, although my oldest son is also attending a specialized preschool program in which he also receives speech and physical therapy. He was born 5 weeks early and has struggled in some aspect or another since the day he was born. Sweetest child in the world, yet he has an extremely difficult time controlling his impulses - which range from talking out of turn to inadvertently kicking his neighbor.

He is currently being treated for ADHD as well. Given his age, my husband and I have taken no further action than added therapy. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is my mantra. And so far, he is not developmentally delayed, so we're faring well enough for now. He will be in Kindergarten next year and we will see then, I am sure, the legitimacy of his diagnosis. But for now, we are hitting the therapy hard and are seeing progress.

My younger son has a condition called right side asymmetry, a form of hemiplegia. Which means the right side of his body is significantly weaker than the left. He is not restricted by it much, except for lack of coordination. Consequently, he is rarely bruise free. And always frustrated. But he runs and jumps the same as any other 2 year old boy. He doesn't let it stop him whatsoever, and in fact tries prove himself to other little boys his age.

The issues my sons face make it very difficult to manage them 100% of the time, particularly in the unknown of the public eye. On one hand, they completely understand right and wrong and what is proper behavior. They just need constant reminding. On the other hand, they are not entirely capable of controlling all their impulses. And those impulses are often heightened by unfamiliar situations: meeting new people, having to wait in lines, crowds. There are a lot of situations that cause nervousness in them, and that usually manifests itself in outbursts and hyperactivity. I've walked out of the grocery store embarassed because my 2 year old screamed the whole time we were there. Or kicked the stranger's hand that reached out to squeeze his chubby cheeks, or pat his blond curly head.

Underneath these boys' fast moving bodies, however, are delicate, sensitive little souls that really try hard. So I struggle, often, with the impression we make.

I've had moments where I've really doubted my mothering skills, knowing full well that the issues I am dealing with are not a reflection on me. And I've had moments where I've been able to hold my head high, because I know I have to work harder with my children to get the same results as a lot of other moms.

I've cried myself to sleep at night wishing and praying for clearer answers.

The best one I've gotten is to love them.

And a lot of times, that's all I can do.

*Everyone participating sign Mr. Linky down there and leave a comment. Then go on over to Seeds From My Garden! Here, again, is your choice of buttons for your post or your sidebar.

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05 April 2007

Um boom ba bay, Um Um boom ba bay bay

"Pressure! Pushing down on me, pressing down on you..." Sing with me now! I am up to my neck in the details of my daughter's birthday, baptism and Easter, and have had nightly rehearsals for a performance coming up this weekend. I know I have not visited your blogs in a while. I promise I will return after the chaos has settled around here. I appreciate that you all still drop in and read!

I want to share a great idea for a homemade toy/activity. All you need is a long piece of string, a balloon, a disposable plate, a paint stirrer and packing tape. Suspend the balloon from your ceiling to about eye level (of your toddler). Fashion a bat out of the plate and paint stirrer by taping them together. Like so:

The purpose of the game is to work those large motor muscles, as well as hand eye coordination, as you bat at the ballon. And it is fun! Not that I play with it after the kids are in bed or anything...

Our next Woman to Woman topic (4/10) is parenting or grandparenting children that have difficult personalities... be they temperamental children or children with issues like ADD, sensory dysfunction, or developmental delays. Share your hardships, share your successes. You mothers can vent away, and you grandmothers can encourage us to hang in there, and share your past parenting/grandparenting challenges and strategies. Considering I just spent 30 minutes in WalMart with a screaming (and that is putting it lightly) toddler and a million turned heads, I will have plenty to say!

Feel free to advertise this project on your blogs! Please use one of the two buttons (see sidebar) we have provided for the official logo, in order that it will become the easily-recognizable symbol of Woman to Woman. If you'd like the URL for putting one of them in your sidebar, email Morning Glory or me for the code. If you prefer, you can use it just on the posting for that particular day, but please use the logos provided.

02 April 2007

There is no place I'd rather be...

than here in the throes of motherhood. There are difficult times when I either think I am not cut out for it, or I want to walk out on it. But, for the most part, I love it. And here are my top 10 reasons why:

10) It's the perfect excuse to buy something from the ice cream truck. Would I do this if I did not have kids? Probably not. Maybe in disguise.

9) Being a mom allows me to chew more bubblegum.

8) Children's books have some of the best art in them. And I love art.

7) Christmas. Enough said.

6) I enjoy throwing my kids' birthday parties so much, that I start planning 6 months in advance. I get a thrill out of every little detail. Speaking of which, Adriana's 8th bday is coming up and I have a real winner in the works. :)

5) I can have all day fun whenever I want. Shall we go the park this morning? Maybe I'll bake cookies for dinner. Perhaps we should get out the cinnamon bears and watch movies. Everyone grab a pile of books and get in Mommy's bed! Let's turn on some tunes and dance like crazy people.

4) Recitals. Plays. Is there anything more funny rewarding than seeing your child "perform" for the first time? Adriana took dance lessons for a year. At her first recital she stood in the middle of the stage, ballerinas fluttering all around her, peering into the bright lights and lifting her dress over her head. I've never laughed so hard in my life. Or been more proud. You GO, my free little spirit.

3) Class parties. I have taken my violin to every Christmas class party my kids have ever had. And they are, hands down, the best audience. I play carol after carol, which are plenty easy, and yet those kids make me feel like the next best thing.

2) I'm not sure my camera would get used much if I weren't a mother. (I forgot to take it on my honeymoon, for pete's sake!) Babies and children make the most beautiful subjects.

1) I have learned more than I ever dreamed possible from my children. They are the reason I get up in the morning. They put the most smiles on my face. They make me want to be better, all the time. They influence every choice I make; everything I do.