Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Unassisted Birth of Brigit Annabelle

Feel free to share this story at will, however, please do so ONLY by linking directly to this page! Thank you. :)

I had my heart set on a homebirth for so many reasons, including previous birth traumas, disdain for intrusive medical interventions, privacy/modesty concerns, and outright spiritual need.  I hired the midwives and began my preparations (mostly mental at that point).  Around 20 weeks I had an ultrasound and a consult scheduled with the back-up OB because I had risk factors (fairly ridiculous ones) that he needed to sign off on so that the midwives could legally attend my homebirth.  He strung me along for over 3 months before deciding that he would not, in fact, be granting me permission to have the midwives attend my birth at home.  His main concern was for my history of birth and neonatal “complications” (every single one of which was relatively common, unpredictable and thus unpreventable, and did not necessitate a hospital to deal with – at least not for the birthing part).

After the initial possibility of this happening was brought to my attention at that 20 week consult, I began researching Unassisted Childbirth (UC).  I remembered seeing the documentary, “Freebirthing”, about this fringe movement.  At the time I thought “these people are nuts!”, like I’m sure many people did, but when I actually started digging into the research, I was awed to discover that people choose UC for the exact reasons I wanted a homebirth in the first place.  The thought of such an empowering, magical experience as UC made complete sense to me, and I needed to do it.  I decided that I didn’t want anyone but my husband and children there; not even friends or other family.  It was to be a private, deeply sacred event.

I did more research about birth than ever before.  I read about 5 books about natural childbirth, some of them midwifery textbooks.  I read them over and over.  I had to focus not only on the emotional aspect of birthing without any professional attendants around for support, but also the functional aspects of safe, responsible birthing.  I read birth stories and watched birth videos on the internet of other successful UCs.  I read stories of unsuccessful UCs that resulted in hospital transfers.  These women were smart; they were prepared enough to recognize when something wasn’t right, and when the point came that they could not handle it alone.  That is what hospitals and OBs are for.  The “real” emergencies.  It blew my mind to learn how very unnecessary so many routine medical interventions are, and how often hospital staff overreact to things that occur during birth that are simply a variation of normal.   It was amazing how much I learned about natural birth, including every single “complication” I had ever had, and how most of it was really no big deal as far as “normal” birthing goes.  It was fascinating and empowering.  I knew I could do it.  It was a long journey that required a lot of deep consideration and bravery, but when the time came that I made up my mind, I knew I could do it.  I trusted my body and my mind to get us through this safely, regardless of whether I actually got to UC or not.  I was certainly not willing to sacrifice health and safety for the UC experience, which is why I had to be so prepared; so I would know how to deal with anything that arose and recognize when to throw in the towel and call in the professionals if things went bad.

I gathered the appropriate supplies.  I purchased a birth pool, a Doppler, a stethoscope, a blood pressure monitor, a pulse-oximeter, chux pads, gauze, gloves, alcohol, umbilical scissors and clamps, hemostats, various herbal tinctures for augmenting contractions and helping stop hemorrhage and shock.  I learned all about how to deal with a surprise breech, shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage and shock.  I learned neonatal resuscitation and instructed Drew on it.  We talked and talked about things, over and over for a total of 4 months.  I made sure he knew how to support me during transition, when I typically lost emotional control and had panicked in previous births.  I mentally prepared myself for the pain of crowning, because I’d felt it 3 times before, so I knew exactly how much it would hurt.  I was determined to swallow my fear of the pain and be the primitive birthing goddess that Mother Nature intended.

*  *  *

On Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, I had my 39 week prenatal appointment.  I had reluctantly agreed to have my prenatal care transferred to the hosp MW who worked under the back-up OB.  She checked my cervix and found me to be 3-4cm dilated and 50% effaced, but baby was still high.  I went home and continued my day as usual.  Around 4pm, as I sat on the porch talking to Drew, I coughed (I was getting over a long episode of asthmatic bronchitis triggered by a very dusty, pollen-y cleaning marathon several weeks prior), and felt a trickle.  I looked at Drew with a sheepish smile and said “I think my water just broke.”  I stuck my hand down my pants and felt the distinct wetness, and said, “Yup.”  Hooray!  Birthing day had finally arrived!  Contractions had not begun yet, however.  I figured they would soon, though, like they did last time with Connor’s labor.

After the initial excitement, I started to get nervous.  Was I really going to do this?  Did I really have the mental capacity to have a UC?  Was I endangering myself and my baby?  I found a bottle of Riesling in the fridge that had been there for 9 months (haha), opened it, and poured myself a small glass.  It was delicious, surprisingly enough considering how old it was!  It was about all I could do for the anxiety, and it did help.

We called a few friends over, those who knew our plans (and there were VERY few of those), to help with the last minute preparations.  One friend came and cleaned the kitchen and tidied the rec-room (for my tv-viewing pleasure, haha).  Another friend got our children ready for bed.  During this, Drew moved all the laundry baskets and boxes out of our bedroom so there would be room for the birth pool.  It was set up, and starting to fill.  We turned the water off when it was half full so that it could be filled the rest of the way with fresh hot water when it became needed.

Then the three of us ladies went on several walks to try and stimulate labor, which was still nowhere in sight.  After several hours of waiting (my bedtime having passed), I became increasingly tired and discouraged.  I decided to go to bed, hoping to be woken up by labor.  No such luck.  I slept horribly and morning came with still no labor.  I had been having periodic gushes ever since my water broke, and every time, I would wait for a hard contraction to begin afterward.  Never happened.

It was then Wednesday, November 10th, the United States Marine Corps’ 235th birthday.  All through the pregnancy I had jokingly said I was aiming for 11/10 to give birth in honor of Drew’s 10 years in the Marine Corps. It was so awesome that it looked like that was going to actually be true!

I was starting to get a little nervous, because of the 24 hour “time limit” OBs tend to stick you with when the membranes rupture before labor has begun.  The risk is of infection.  I, however, was not being exposed to the main risk factors, which are being in a hospital full of foreign germs, and having multiple cervical exams to check progress (I had not done any on myself since my water broke).  The fluid was gushing regularly so the area was constantly being flushed out.  I was monitoring my temperature and the baby’s heart rate regularly, and both continued to be fine.

Around 8am I sent Drew to Mother Earth Market to buy a new bottle of blue cohosh tincture (an herb that is used to induce/augment labor contractions).  He got there only to find that they didn’t open until 9am.  I was frustrated, but knew I could do nothing else but wait.  At 9am, he called to say that the store was sold out of both brands of blue cohosh tincture.  Ack!  He then had to drive across town to the other Mother Earth store, where they did have some.

When Drew finally got home around 10am, McDonald’s breakfast in hand, I reached out and said “Gimme, gimme!”  He started to hand me my mocha frappe, and I said “No!  Give me the tincture!”  I went straight to the kitchen and took a dose.   I had decided to take the doses more frequently than usual, because I knew from past experiences that it took over an hour for any contractions to start (after 2 doses).  I was going to take it every half hour until contractions began, then decrease to every hour until they were strong and regular.

I had loaned my double electric breast pump to a friend, so I called her to see if she could bring it back that morning so I could use it to try and induce labor with some pumping sessions (which release oxitocin, the hormone that causes contractions).

I finally decided to call my homebirth midwife to consult with her.  I had been trying to avoid involving her, because I had no intentions of going to the hospital as long as things seemed to be going okay.  She knew this, but I didn’t want to put her in any kind of awkward situation (ethically).  But, the clock was ticking and I had been ruptured for over 18 hours by then.  I needed to make sure I wasn’t making a dangerous mistake by continuing to stay home, and to hash out what to do if/when it became truly necessary to go to the hospital.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my MW was calmer about the situation than I was.  She assured me that labor would start, and that things would probably go quickly when it did.  She had to consult the hosp MW and inform her of what was going on, and I reluctantly agreed.  I was told that, because of the hospital-based nature of the practice, it was recommended that I come into Shands to be evaluated.  I declined, and my choice was documented.  I knew if I went in they would pressure me to start pitocin, and that would completely kill the experience I was aiming for.  Not to mention that there was no medical indication that I needed it at that point.  So my MW instructed me to monitor myself for fever, keep checking the baby’s heart rate to make sure it remained strong and steady, and adhere to the “nothing in the vagina” rule.  No problem!  I told her I had just started taking blue cohosh and was going to be using the pump as well.  Big thumbs up.  I felt much better then!

So, around noon, after 5 doses of cohosh, 3 pumping sessions, and still no labor, I decided that I wanted the kids to leave the house.  I couldn’t concentrate or relax; their presence was keeping me tense and nervous as they went about their day as usual (which consists of running around, making lots of noise, demanding attention, and occasionally fighting with each other).  So Drew called his mom and she agreed to come pick up the 3 younger children (Robby was visiting his dad).  She arrived around 12:30pm, and Connor started to freak out.  Poor thing knew something was going on, and did not like the idea of being shuttled away – it was a new experience for him.  We finally got him in the car and he was weeping…but apparently the smiles returned a few minutes down the road and Drew’s mom called to tell us that.  Good.  I could finally relax.

Enter mind-body connection.  Within 15 minutes of the children departing, I had a contraction.  A real one!  I was excited and relieved.  Drew had just made me a turkey-provolone sandwich and I was slowly eating it; I was not very hungry, but I knew my body needed more than the Gatorade I’d been drinking.  About a minute or two after that first good contraction ended, another one began.  Wow!  I was sure it was a fluke.  I continued to eat a bite of sandwich, breathe through a contraction, repeat.  After about 5 contractions in a row like this, I finally realized that I was actually in labor!  The contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, which signifies active labor, and the intensity of the contractions were consistent with that stage of labor as well; strong, but doable.  I posted on MDC (MotheringDotCommunity, an online mama’s forum) that I was finally in labor shortly before 1pm.  My sandwich sat, half-eaten, on the porch table.

After about 45 minutes of these contractions, still coming quickly and strongly, the intensity suddenly increased dramatically.  I knew Drew needed to get the birth pool filled and warm, because it was time for that “aquadural” relief.  I had been holding out as long as possible so as not to waste the warm water or cause labor to stall.  So, between contractions, I breathlessly instructed him to get the pool ready.  There were 4 big pots of water being heated on the stove, and he emptied our hot water tank into the already half-full (but room temperature, by then) pool.

At this point I got down on my knees and leaned over the birth ball during contractions.  I had to focus on relaxing my abdominal muscles, because I had been inadvertently tensing them.  The contractions were slightly less uncomfortable this way.  I breathed slowly and deeply, and rode each wave as it came.  After several contractions like this, I seized the opportunity during the (short!) break between them to pick up the ball and go to the bedroom (I’d been on the back porch this whole time).  I made it back there just in time for another contraction to start, so I threw the ball down on the floor and got on my knees, leaning over it again.  I was waiting for Drew to finish warming the pool water.

Shortly before 2pm, the phone rang.  It was my MW calling to check on me (we hadn’t spoken in a few hours), and to tell me that she had a class from 2-3:15pm, so to text her instead of calling if I needed her during that time frame.  She asked if things were picking up and I replied “Oh yeah…”, still breathing heavily as I had just finished a contraction.

A few minutes later, the contractions increased in intensity again.  I had to muster more courage to remain calm through each one.  I got up and stuck my hand in the pool.  It seemed only lukewarm, but I figured the buoyancy might at least help things even if the warmth factor wasn’t quite where I needed it.  I changed into a gray sports bra and fresh undies (‘cause I’m so modest, haha) between a few contractions, and stepped into the pool.  Drew came in and I asked him to turn on the CD player, which had a Polynesian woman’s choir CD in it, which I had listened to while in labor with the twins 6 years back.  Then I said “More hot water.”  He was off again.  I was leaning over the side of the pool on the end that has a seat.  Drew arrived with a pot of hot water and I moved to the other end of the pool and stirred with the “debris net” as he slowly poured it in.  It felt good, but still not warm enough.  “More,” I said.  Off he went.  This repeated until all 4 pots of water had been poured, and he was refilling them all to put them back on the stove.


During all of his bustling around, I had turned over and was laying face-up with my arms supported over the sides of the pool, stretched out and suspended in the water.  The contractions were incredibly intense by then, and I was deep in a trance.  My legs were trembling and I knew that I was approaching transition.  I stayed unspeakably calm, focusing on making it through one contraction at time.  After a time, and I have no idea how long (I’m guessing about 10 minutes), I felt a very strange sensation after a contraction finished.  It was a distinct shift in the pressure down there.  My eyes flew open wide as I realized what had just happened.  My cervix had finished dilating, and her head had just slid down into the birth canal.  Holy crap.  I wasn’t about to enter transition.  I had just finished it!  With no panic!


At this point, I was in a state of disbelief that the birth was so imminent.  The last thing on my mind was calling anyone, or even telling Drew what was going on.  I didn’t quite believe it myself, and thought if I came out of my deep meditative trance and tried to talk to anyone, I might not be so calm.  So I just sat there, in my own little world.  The contractions had stalled, which is normal between the first (labor) and second (delivery) stages of birth.  It isn’t called the “Rest and Be Thankful” phase for nothing!

As soon as the contractions started up again, they were very hard and sharp.  After a few like that, I took off my undies, squeezed the water out, and chucked them toward the bathroom (I missed and hit the dresser).  I moved to the other end of the pool, the end without the seat, and leaned over the side, resting my head on the edge.  I was on my knees, which were far back behind me, with my belly hanging down in the water.  During the next contraction, I figured I’d try pushing a little to see if that helped relieve some of the sharpness.  It did, so I continued to push, breathe, push, breathe…really focusing on catching my breath between pushes.  I may have been in la-la land, but I realized that I hadn’t checked her heart rate since I’d gotten into the pool, and there was not any possibility of doing it at this point (my primal birthing instincts had kicked in and I wasn’t going anywhere!), so I wanted to make sure I was breathing well enough to keep everything as oxygenated as possible.


Drew came back into the room, and as soon as a contraction subsided, I said to him, breathlessly, “Go turn the hose on, hot.”  He complied (there was a garden hose hooked up to our shower head).  By that point, the water heater had rebooted enough to give at least some hot water.  After less than a minute of the hose being in the tub, and feeling the hot water swirl around me, I started to have a hot flash.  “Okay, that’s good, that’s good!”  He ran and turned it off, then finally climbed onto the bed and settled in by my side.

At this point, I was pushing with each contraction.  I would ease into a push, and then my body would take over and hold the push, and I would grunt like I was taking a huge dump.  I was panting between pushes, and would then push again, because it made the sharp pains dull out a bit.  Drew was there, stroking my hair and telling me what a good job I was doing.  At first, I almost told him to stop touching my hair, but then I realized it was giving me something to focus on other than the pain, and I appreciated it, so I kept my mouth shut.  I hadn’t told him that transition was over and that this was real, intentional pushing.  In fact, I hadn’t said a word to him at all since telling him to turn off the hose.  Apparently, he thought transition was just beginning, because with Connor’s birth, I was pushing/grunting involuntarily during that stage.

Within a few minutes, I started to feel the burn.  I knew that I needed to stop pushing and let the tissue stretch, but it hurt so much that I chose to continue pushing as gently as possible anyway.  I knew it was almost over.  I reached down to feel for her head, but felt nothing except a slightly opened hole.  I was grunting and sobbing as I pushed.  I reached down again and felt that telltale “fuzzy walnut” that was her scalp, compressed in the birth canal and just starting to crown.  The burning was intense and I was panting quickly between pushes, still groaning and crying.  But strangely, I was not panicking.  I was so focused on what my body was doing, knowing that this was the moment of truth and that it would soon be over; there was no time for panic.  Another few gentle pushes and I reached down again.  This time, her head was completely crowned, and so I reached my other hand down and pressed down on either side to provide counter pressure.

I knew that this was the most important time to not push.  But I also knew that one more push would bring her head over that hump and the worst part would be over.  Decisions, decisions.  I chose to push.  I don’t even know if I was having a contraction or not at that point; all I could feel was that blasted “ring of fire”.  So I braced my hands on either side of her head, and pushed hard.  Suddenly, there was an entire head in my hands.  I let out a big sigh of relief and stroked her soft head.  I moved my fingers around to her face, brushing over her tiny ears, felt her nose and mouth, and rubbed her squishy, fat cheeks, all while catching my breath.  It was a peaceful, surreal, and completely magical moment; the world had stopped turning, and it was just me and my baby girl.

Then I was eager for the rest of her to come out.  I knew I had to wait for her to rotate her body so her shoulders could be born.  I waited to feel that happening, as I’d heard others do, but I didn’t.  I became impatient and figured I’d try to push again and see what happened.  I figured I’d stick my finger down there and try and hook her armpit to aid the top shoulder’s delivery.  As I was doing that, she started to slide out a little, and I realized I’d forgotten to check to see if the cord was around her neck!  OOPS!  I unhooked my finger from her armpit and there was the cord!!  She was already sliding out, so I quickly tried to loop it over her head.  I couldn’t, and she was coming out anyway.  She sort of somersaulted out into the water, and I tried to maneuver her out of the cord tangle.  The lighting was dim and I couldn’t really see exactly how the cord was wrapped over her (I believe is wasn’t actually around her neck, but over her shoulder and across her chest).  I couldn’t pull her up out of the water because of it, so I slowly spun her around until she was untangled and I could pull her up.  It was 2:58pm.

[This was the moment when Drew finally realized how far things had gone, poor guy!  He had no idea what was happening until he saw her hand in the water as she was born.  Talk about poor communication on my part!]

I lifted her up to my chest.  She was blue and not breathing, but her arms and legs were flexed, her face grimacing, and the cord still attached and pulsating, so I knew she would be okay.  But, I wanted her to wake up.  Drew handed me a warm receiving blanket and I rubbed her vernix-covered back and head, and said, “Hi, sweet girl!  Open your eyes, baby!”  I turned her onto her tummy so she could cough up any mucous or water, but there wasn’t any.  She did give a dry cough, though.  I turned her back over and she was opening and closing her eyes, slowly and sporadically.  I kept rubbing her with the blanket and talking to her.  I stuck my finger in her mouth to check for mucous, but it was clear.  Drew handed me the suction bulb and I stuck it in her mouth and nose, if for no other reason than to made her mad so she’d cry.  She was making angry faces, but still didn’t really cry more than a little mew every now and then.  I tried blowing into her mouth gently, and that made her mad, too.  After a few minutes of stimulation, she was noticeably pinker and more active, but still very mellow.




I felt another contraction, and remembered the placenta.  I gave a little push, and out it slid into the water.  It was still attached inside by the membranes, so I waited a little longer to see if it would eject itself (it didn’t, so I pulled gently and it came out, tearing off a small piece that ended up passing in a clot a few days later with no complications).

At 3:11pm, I called my MW, hoping that maybe her class had let out a few minutes early.  She didn’t answer, but called me back within a few minutes.  I told her “Well, that was a fast labor!”  She was surprised, just as everyone else who heard the news.  I assessed Brigit to make sure she was okay to wait until the next morning to see the pediatrician.  She was.  My bottom, however, was not okay.  I ended up with a second-degree tear that required about 12 stitches (and a very long wait at the doctor’s office).

The next day, I took Brigit to the pediatrician to be checked out (and weighed and measured!).  Our guess for her birth weight was 7lbs 8oz (and that’s what we put on the birth certificate), since she had already passed meconium 4 times before she was weighed.  She was 20” long with a 35cm head circumference.  Perfectly average in size!

This experience was incredible.  Despite the tear and some difficulties I’ve had with recovery, I could not have asked for a more perfect birth.  It was 23 hours from my water breaking to her birth, with a mere 2 hours of labor in the end.  I was calm, followed my instincts, and have been healed from all the past birth traumas.  I have never felt more empowered in my life.

M. Neilson
Copyright 2010

*This still needs some editing, as I notice one more tiny thing each time I read it...  Someday...*

Monday, August 2, 2010

Healing Depression

 it has come to my attention lately that i may be in a depressive episode.  depression can be tricky to recognize and treat during pregnancy because of the myriad of "symptoms" that manifest due to hormones and other pregnancy-related factors.  chronic fatigue and mood swings are normal for a pregnant woman, but they are also a symptom of depression.  so, which is it? 

the other day i pulled out my trusty, tattered old copy of How to Heal Depression.  i have owned it for over 10 years, and revisited it several times.  i love the format: lists.  bulleted lists of no more than a page or two for a gazillion sub-headings.  short, sweet, easy to skim and skip to the most useful parts.  i have made notations and put post-it tabs in relevant areas over the years.  it's interesting to see how my chronic depression has evolved.

last night i was helping hubby study for an exam (police academy).  we covered the 3 types of stress, and then i asked him coyly "and which of these does your wife suffer from?"..."all of them!"  yes, i am stressed.  all the time.  ALL the time.  chronic high stress.  messy house, unruly children, fatigue, back pain, loneliness, abandonment, childhood traumas, adulthood traumas, PTSD, guilt, low self-esteem...i could go on and on.  and it's allllllll intertwined.  i am seriously fuctup.

it was interesting to see a part in the book about negative thoughts and blame-laying by the depressed person.  yes, i am full of negative, pessimistic thoughts, some of which i verbalize (unfortunately, usually to my children).  i am afraid to sound too negative to my friends and most family, because i do not wish to either invite criticism or drive someone away for being too high-maintenance.  both have happened to me before, and that traumatized me (hello, abandonment!)...so now i'm stuck holding all these thoughts and feelings in, or taking them out on my immediate nuclear family.

but usually holding them in.  most of them.  i blame the children's behavior, the messy house, my husband and his ADHD/insensitivity/lack of common sense, and my craziness in general for making me such a fuck up that i can't keep friendships.  i have often thought that my depression is almost completely "situational", and that if i lived alone, no husband, no kids...there would be no mess, no unruly children, no sloppy husband to supervise and take care of.  seeing the page in the book that talks about how it's no one's fault and such...well, it makes me feel a little angry ("but you just don't understand MY life!"), but relieved too...?  like, well, i'm obviously not unique in blaming everyone and everything else for my depression...but it's not MY fault either.  it's my brain's chemical reaction to these events and circumstances.

and that brings me to a very recent epiphany.  yesterday i forgot to take my morning meds until after we'd already left for UU.  i had klonopin in my purse, so i took one and figured i'd take my wellbutrin when i got home.  i never took it because nothing happened that obviously reminded me that i hadn't and needed to (which is usually what i count on when i forget -- it's never long before i'm ready to blow my top and realize i've forgotten my meds!).  incidentally, robby is at his dad's for a long weekend and so the children-conflict level was decidedly lower than usual.  and the topic at the service was....depression(!), and i had already suspected that i was in the middle of an episode, so in an effort to assure that the rest of the day would be as peaceful as possible, i asked hubby to refrain from demanding anything of the children, chore-wise.

that is one of the sources of major conflict.  messy children + tired pregnant mama = super messy house.  enter drill instructor daddy who thinks he can fix everything by facilitating a  terrifying, argument- and resistance-filled "clean-up" time, which makes mama want to retreat into the bedroom and shoot herself in the head.  nothing gets done except a lot of yelling, threatening, punishing, and angry daddy resentfully cleaning all by himself (but ALWAYS half-ass'edly and NEVER completely).   the cycle never ends.

so yesterday, i decided i would rather live another day in the chaotic mess (that will only continue to get worse) instead of experience another "family clean-up time".  *cry*  that's a huge step for  me.  defeat is what it is, really.  anyway, the day was rather uneventful, i even ended up falling asleep on my IL's couch when we went over there for dinner and watched a movie before hand.

today i decided not to take my meds to see what happened.  robby is still not here -- i will pick him up this evening after dinner.  so that will have given me 2 whole days to withdraw from the wellbutrin, if that is what is happening.  i don't feel a thing.  the twins have had some squabbles this morning, and connor has acted like his usual sick 2 year old.  not once so far have i had the rage creep up.  and that's just WEIRD.  so i'm thinking...OMG, the only reason why i need klonopin is to counteract the agitation that the wellbutrin causes.  i'm remaining calm with the children without even trying.

i've known for a long time that many BP'ers can't take antidepressants because of the mania-inducing risks, but i have ALWAYS taken an antidepressant, and i've always fallen into a mild depressive episode when the dosage was lowered or the mood stabilizer dosage was raised... so i assumed i was an exception to that rule.  why would i be???  perhaps all this time i have been full of such rage requiring klonopin to balance out simply because of the hypomanic/mixed episode symptoms that the wellbutrin has been causing!!  the true test will be day #3 (tomorrow), because robby will be home.  if i can make it through a whole day with all of the children home and not have a violent-urge physiological reaction to the stressors of the day, my theory will be confirmed.  and does that mean i can stop taking klonopin, too?  then i can report to the asshole OB that i am no longer taking the dreaded category D medication and he can pull his head out of his ass and sign off on my homebirth already.  wouldn't that be nice...

in the mean time, i still want to start thinking more about the self-care suggestions from the book.  like laughing more -- i try to watch funny stuff regularly, but i think i need to set the tivo to record south park and family guy, and not just scrubs.  maybe friends reruns and reba, too.  any show that makes me literally LOL will do.

the intense summer heat has been making it very difficult to get adequate "fresh air and sunshine" treatments.  i'd much rather stay holed up in the darkened, A/C'ed house all day than brave the 110'F heat index -- i'm very heat sensitive, and i don't need daily heat strokes!  only another 6-8 weeks before i can tolerate being outside for longer than 5 minutes...  swimming is the only solution, and taking 4 kids to the YMCA by myself can be a feat, and is always time-consuming.  ugh. i think i just need to MAKE it a higher priority, though.

yoga and meditation.  those are things that i love, but have not actively participated in in a looooooong time.  i have 2 different postpartum yoga/exercise dvds ("with your baby"), but no prenatal ones.  i would totally do it if i had them (or so i say now, when i don't).  meditation is something that i usually only squeeze in at UU services, during the moment of silence or during the musical performances.  choir was a great release for me, but it doesn't happen in summer.  it starts back in about 3 weeks, though, i think.

knitting and reading are a few "coping strategies" that i use regularly, but i always end up having to neglect something else in order to do them, and that fosters guilt.  can't win.

i know i need to devote more time to grooming/self care.  i dyed my hair the other day.  today i was thinking how nice it would be to make it more of a priority to take relaxing hot baths.  i can't even remember the last time i did that.  :/  maybe i could start painting my nails again.  those things always make me feel better.

i do notice that i am more productive when i get dressed and put on an apron --  it's like my homemaker uniform.  :D  but these days i'm thinking more about how to squeeze in a little rest here and there.  that, or i just reach for the caffeine...

i must go now.  i'm getting sleepy......

Saturday, July 31, 2010

MW dilemma & pre-UC fears

i have been having mixed feelings about my upcoming birth (november). very excited and liberated about UC'ing, but scared, too, as it seems that each of my pgcys has come with some sort of minor complications that for the most part, in a medical setting, are not really a big deal. like GD (which i don't have this time...at least yet), getting rx's for infections and other issues (UTI and sinus probs are common for me while pg, and i had severe bronchitis last time toward the end which almost landed me in the hospital). i don't have a problem self-treating most things, either naturally or with rx's that i already have on hand if natural stuff isn't cutting it after a while (but it usually does). this time around i'm having kidney issues (treating with D-mannose, cranberry, and vit c, but it's taking a looong time to resolve) and what seems like arrhythmia/tachycardia (which my father has had, but may be normal due to increased blood volume, but my lack of "medical care" makes it more noticeable and worrisome, because i am SO not looking forward to having to go see the awful back-up OB again - see why below). but i am afraid if i mention my concerns to my HB MWs that they will insist on it, and maybe i have a real, serious heart problem that will truly "risk" me out of their care altogether. so now i'm all paranoid about my kidneys shutting down :roll: or having a heart attack :yeah: :roll: *SIGH* yeah, i'm paranoid.

i'm starting to feel like i should go ahead and "get in" with the hospital MWs for these things, and just not show up for the birth ;) but i'm already 24 wks and i don't want to insult my HB MWs (i love them, whereas my fave hosp MW who is very traditional has since retired from midwifery in favor of teaching obstetrics at the teaching hospital <---THAT will be a very good thing for up-coming OBs and L&D RNs in this area!! :D but i don't really know and/or like the remaining MWs at that hosp)...it's just that they are CPMs and can't prescribe treatments, so if i need any "medical attention" i have to go to their back-up OB, who works alone and has a TON of patients (he is the only HB MW back-up in town, and the only OB left in town that accepts medicaid without being a pre-existing patient -- which i am for the hosp MWs, btw). so, anyway, the wait in his office is RIDICULOUS. i have been there twice, once for a consult and 20wk u/s, and then again for a colposcopy/biopsy (i know!!) and repeat gender u/s ("she" keeps crossing her legs :mad: ). i was there for 4 hrs the first time and 9 hrs the second time. both visits brought me to tears for various reasons. not to mention that his practicing rights exist only at our town's teaching hospital, which is a HORRIBLE place to have a baby, for the impersonal, over-reactive, intervention-happy, traditional-hospital medical atmosphere so....i do NOT want to go back to him, which is why i am contemplating going to the hosp MWs for certain things.

so my dilemma is that i don't think medicaid will allow me to have more than one set of caretakers for my pregnancy...??? i know if i were to completely SWITCH from the HB MWs to hosp MWs it would be okay, but the fact that the back-up OB has STILL not decided whether to sign off on my HB, and if not, then whether to "allow" my HB MWs to continue with my prenatal and PP care. I really want to do a "sneaky" UC where i call the MWs AFTER baby is out (or at least hubby calls while i'm pushing, giving them no time to get there "in time" :D ) so they can come check us out after (for my own peace of mind). e.g. if babe is "slow to start" it would be nice to have the MWs show up with their deep-suction and oxygen if necessary, just to make sure things are okay (my first born had juicy lungs and was transferred to NICU for 2 days :( ). if i am with hosp MWs, i'd have to go to the hospital for a relatively immediate PP check, and i'd be afraid they'd want to admit us "for observation". that's another problem for medicaid pts around here. AMA = medicaid refuses the bill. :mad: and if i wait until 24 hrs later or whatever, then it's pointless to go anyway.

i don't mind just taking babe to ped asap for an assessment (depending on the time of day of delivery -- i've had 3 "after hours" babies and 1 "lunch hour" one :lol: ). it's ME i'm worried about...i have a history of blood-loss (PPH after the twins that caused me to nearly faint when i tried to go for a walk a few hours later -- but then again i was pumped full of fluids and pitocin during labor AND my uterus was double-stretched; and borderline PPH after my last babe), and although i have not torn since my first born (nuchal arm), i am concerned that without "proper" perineal/urethral support during delivery (i think i will be squeamish about feeling the stretching from the outside), i might end up with a tear that requires more than just rest to fix...unlikely, i know, but i have a SERIOUS aversion to hospital admission, which is what i'm afraid they'd try to force on me...or maybe they can take care of all this in the office if it's daytime? is it true that if the baby is not born under their care that it is not their "right" to demand to assess and "treat" her post birth? even if it's <24hrs later? i just don't need another AMA on my "record". they assigned a social worker to us last time, when i took my 2yo home from the ER AMA last month...

so, i have a history of, um, let's say "obstacles" with my labors, births, and newborns, so i would like the reassurance of a quasi-medical PP assessment without having to leave home, if at all possible.

i know these are probably all normal first-time UC'er fears.  btw, i do have an affirmation that i am repeating constantly, and i truly believe it (okay, so maybe 99% ;) ). "i believe that this labor will be quick and easy and uncomplicated, and that baby and i will be healthy." it's just all the "what ifs" that are dragging me down. :ooer:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

no novel today as i am tired and should be sleeping, but must vent.

yesterday i had an appt w/ dr. b for a colposcopy due to atypical cells pap result :( and to discuss whether he's decided to sign off on my homebirth or not. and to collect my u/s pics from a month ago. and beg for another look at gender.

neither of my midwives show up, ever, at all, because they are both at births. i am alone. :(

my ILs called at hour 3 asking when i'd be done cuz they had no dinner to feed my children. i say "...i...don't know...what to tell you..." kids are ending up with mcd's drive-thru. hang up, and start to cry, feeling irresponsible and neglectful and burdensome. :cry:

hour 7, finally my turn. he has not yet decided whether to sign off. it's already been a month of waiting. i'm crying again. :cry:

atypical area SO atypical that cervical biopsy is necessary (and supposedly they try to avoid doing those on pg mamas). it causes bleeding that requires silver nitrate to halt. i'm weeping the whole time, feeling violated and scared and in pain from the biopsy. i have male dr issues. :cry:

i then sob and beg for him to at least take a peak at baby with u/s to try and confirm gender, so i might have something to smile about. yes, i played the crying lady card, and i am not ashamed.

i wait another hour. hubby is out of class by now and finally picks up our 4 tired, cranky children from grandma's, instead of rushing over to join me for the u/s (he missed the other one too).

u/s shows breech baby with legs still crossed, but she flashes us a few times and doc says 80% girl. yay.

i wait another hour for him to upload the pics from my 20wk onto my usb stick.

yes, there are 3 other patients in the office still and it's nearly midnight.

i don't want to go back there. ever. ever ever EVER. 9 frickin hours, and for what? for him to tell me i have pre-cancerous cells on my cervix (i already knew that from 9 years ago...but it hasn't shown up on a pap since then...so now it's back all of a sudden??), he's not sure yet if i'll be "allowed" my homebirth, and he's not quite sure if my baby's a girl. fuckin A. seriously. what a waste of my time and energy. and tears. :cry: :cry: :cry:

i get home and look at the pics, and they suck. not one worth sharing. the one 3D pic of her face (from a month ago) is not in the file. :evil:

connor has gotten progressively sick over the day. he has a swollen, goopy eye (that's NOT bloodshot), snotty nose, post-nasal-drip cough, but no fever (yet). not acting like himself. he woke me up around 5:30am with his sniffling and snorting and rolling all over me, and i couldn't go back to sleep due to full bladder and hunger.

still processing yesterday. i cried so much at the doc's office i felt dizzy and numb on the drive home. still feeling let down and sad and weepy and hopeless.

yes, it's dr b. i don't think his bedside manner is bad at all, but maybe that's because i'd heard it was awful before i ever met him, so in comparison to my imagination, he's really quite gentle :lol:

it's not the pre-cancerous cells (it's "high risk" HPV, btw) that are a problem for my homebirth. i outright asked if they would pose a problem during birth (bleeding, infection, etc) and he said "oh, no, no". and there is nothing more they can do until postpartum anyway (probably cryotherapy at some point, if necessary). i had robby with atypical cells on my cervix and delivered him at a birth center no prob, but the cells disappeared on their own and have been dormant for 9 years. i thought my body had "taken care of it" as is common with HPV, but apparently not. :( he said he'd only do a biopsy if necessary. i guess it was.

there is a homebirth risk assessment scale, and i score high due to what i think are some ridiculous "risk factors" including history of twins (risk of prematurity? this is only one, and i've had a full term singleton since i had twins...and, um, i'd go to the hospital anyway if i were in labor prematurely - duh), history of gest. diabetes (only with the twins, which is common, and i already passed my 1 hr test with flying colors this time around), the abnormal pap (nothing we can do, doesn't pose a problem for birth <--out of his own mouth)...

but mostly, he's concerned about a medication that i take that's category D for pregnancy. i take it with informed consent, the risk of birth defects is "not significantly greater" than everyone's 3-5% risk of birth defects, regardless of anything, and the possibility of cleft lip and/or heart defects have been ruled out by u/s (unless it's a very mild heart defect). this defect risk warning, btw, is based on studies where rats received enormous amounts of the drug. :roll: anyway, i am not too concerned with the drug. it is medically necessary and the benefits outweigh the risks in my case, so what's the point in stressing about it???

oh, and then there are all of the "complications" i had in all my births. all were random, unppredictable, and not uncommon...and none of them were anything that being in a hospital made better. in fact, the most serious of my "complications" occurred outside a hospital. oooOOOoooh. robby's cord prolapsed ("hidden prolapse" -- not hanging out of the cervix) when my water broke, and we were at a birth center. his heart rate dropped to the 60's and did not recover. my midwives followed protocol for it, since i was already 9-10cm and birth was "imminent" (quoting emergency childbirth texts here -- i've done lots of research since then), they had me squat on the floor and push as hard as i could. once his head got through my cervix the pressure was lifted and his heart rate returned to normal. had i been in a hospital, they surely would have whisked me off to surgery.

the twins had their heads locked together (very rare, apparently), which prevented devin's descent (and thus dilation beyond 6-7cm), and i was about a minute away from begrudgingly consenting to a c/s (stupid!!) when i got up to pee and *bloop!* their heads dislodged and i went from 6-7--->10cm in a split second (thank you, gravity!). but, uhhhhh.... that's not going to happen this time because THERE'S ONLY ONE BABY!

connor was misdiagnosed with fetal distress. his cord was around his neck twice, so his heart rate dropped with each contraction. they diagnosed fetal distress and kept me strapped to the monitors and gave me oxygen because of it. i don't mind oxygen, but they instilled false fear in me. i have since learned that it is only a variation of normal for the heart rate to drop during contractions, as long as it comes right back up after (and guess what? his was doing just that!). fetal distress my ass.

there. those are my complications and risk factors. i won't even go into the other reasons why i refuse to have another baby in a hospital, because that would take all day. but let's just say i have a valid fear of infection, and serious modesty and privacy issues.

and afaik, there's absolutely nothing anyone can do about the horrible schedule management at dr. b's office. all i hear is "he's a specialist" and "he works alone and has no back-up" for why he has to be in a million places at once. did i mention that his poor daughter (probably 5 or 6 years old) was at the office, unattended, at least as long as i was? at first i wondered why the tv in the waiting room was always tuned in to disney (like, wow, there must be a lot of pregnant teenagers coming here??). then i figured out who that little girl was, and realized that was her babysitter. she was still there, awake eating a tv dinner, when i left close to midnight. :roll:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Benign Neglect...and other musings of a tired pregnant mama

Here I sit in the rocking chair, in the rec room, semi-watching my children play in the enormous water slide/pool that I dropped $500 on at the beginning of the summer (so, May?).  It is over 100'F out, taking heat index into account.  They cannot see me, as the sliding doors are closed and the rec room is dark(-ish); and I cannot hear them, other than loud screams, hoots, and hollers...most of which are happy.  If they are choosing to use potty words, I don't care, because I can't hear it.  I know children like to play with naughty words --we all did it, right?  But I at least knew better than to use them in front of adults.  I am trying to have my children follow that same protocol.

This is about as close to supervising this activity as I am comfortable with.  I am available to them if there is an injury, or a conflict/assault that needs attention.  I have already pulled Robby out for a 5 min time-out after witnessing him yank back on his sister's hair and then shove her down, face-first, into the water.  Daddy forgot to give Robby his morning meds -- the one that helps with his ADHD symptoms (impulsivity and hyperactivity) -- but it's actually hypomania.  I gave it to him when we got home, but it hasn't kicked in yet.  There's something to be said about a chemical imbalance, and whether to blame the person or the lack of meds for any given indiscretion.  I went easy on him, even though I wanted to break his friggin arms, because I know that kind of action would probably not have occurred if he'd had his meds this morning. 

I experience the same things myself when I forget my Klonopin.  It is a wonderful addition to my med cocktail, but I sure wish it came in extended release form.  I usually remember my morning dose, which is taken with whatever caffeinated beverage I choose for the day.  Usually.  The afternoon dose is harder to remember.  It needs to come 4 hours after the morning dose, so the time is a little different every day.  I am most often reminded to take it when I start to feel very angered and agitated by my children.  The kind where I start to shake and grit my teeth and want to cause physical harm to anyone who irritates me.  No fun. I am infinitely more patient with my Klonopin on board. 
And then another tricky thing is that i never know when my 2nd dose is doing to wear off until i take it.  Today, for example, it will wear off around 6pm.  That's 2 hours before kiddie bedtime.  I fear I will have to take a 3rd dose in order to make it through with us all in one piece.  I take a very small dose each time (0.5mg), but it's still a category D for pregnancy.  It's like the anxiety over taking it while pregnant just fuels my need to take it even more!!  Can't win.

I envy the mamas I know that truly seem to enjoy their motherhood -- their lives, really.  I have not been enjoying life recently.  I would love a vacation all alone, but would fear what kind of mess I would face upon return.  I'm stuck like that.  A prisoner in my own life, in my own home, and by my own choice, no less!  I am trying desperately to take one day at a time, one hour at a time, one MINUTE at a time.  I recognize my need (and my kids' need) for more social interaction and mroe variety in general in our daily lives, and it's been difficult, being summer time.  People are out of town, and we are having heatwaves that keep me fearfully holed up in the house.  Even one hour outside is enough to put me down for the rest of the day, and how is that helpful with 4 little ones to care for?  What good am I if I am a comatose vegetable laid out on the couch or in my bed, not supervising OR doing anything productive.  My children have literally eaten bread and water for dinner.  Or apples and saltines (and water), as was the case the other day.  And it's not because the cupboard is bare -- it's because I am unable to do my job.  Last time a pregnancy was along this same time-line, season-wise, was 9 years ago, and I didn't have anything but a full-time desk job to attend to.  No children to take care of.  This time I have 4 little ones, and a mental illness that has evolved significantly over the 9 years since.  Pretty sure my heat intolerance has evolved, too.  I do have more body fat now, and global warming has come a long way in 9 years, I'm sure. 

So, it's been hard, especially these past 2-3 weeks.  Things had fallen stagnant, on more than one level, but 3 main ones that stick out:  I haven't been to therapy in over a month, my cleaning helper moved away and I have not replaced her, and we haven't been going on as many social outings as before.  Forget having people over -- after losing my cleaning helper, the house went to shit and my spoiled brat children are responsible for most of that.  I have baskets and baskets of unfolded clean(?) laundry.  Hubby and I have been working very hard on the rec room and living room, and it's finally to a point where I feel okay to have "casual" company over again.  This week has been busy, and that's a good thing.  I need to remember that.  I was down so low the past few weeks, it was hard to imagine a light being at the end of that tunnel...

Monday, July 19, 2010

uncooperative children vs. hormonal preggo mama

copied from a FB comment:

MAMAS (and papas) AND TEACHERS: please give me some examples of EMPATHY that 5 year olds can understand (or 4 year olds, as Kieran's cognitive/social development dictates). our first venture as a one-room schoolhouse will be virtues training, and lesson 1 is empathy. my book seems geared more toward older children, so HELP ME PLEASE. TIA :)

i'm not trying to "teach" it, per se, i know it can't be taught, and i know they all have it (or are on their way to it). what i want to do is draw attention to it and encourage them to think about it consciously. i suppose you could say that this "virtue training" is more of a glorified vocabulary lesson :roll:

the thing that spurred me wanting to start this ASAP (i've had the book for months and have been putting it off due to the older-child aim of it) is when my hormonal preggo self went off and sobbed/screamed to them the other day about how sometimes their actions/words/decisions hurt other people, and that they should think about how it effects others -- like the messes they make and then don't want to help clean up, and using their bodies instead of their words when they are angry. i have been an emotional mess lately, and being alone with all of them for 50 hrs a week is starting to break me down... and that wasn't the first time i have cried in front of them because their behavior pushed me over an emotional cliff.

incidentally, when i told robby's therapist about this, she cut me off in the middle of an earnest explanation and said, very firmly, "now THAT'S gotta stop." my jaw dropped -- it made me feel like a naughty child myself. i don't like her very much. glad she's resigning :twisted: . i don't think there's anything wrong with telling my children that their actions are hurting me - or others - and apparently the easiest time for me to explain these things is when they've driven me to tears.

there has been disobedience left and right, downright ignorance of my requests and rules -- and i reserve the word "rule" for essential, safety-related things whose reasons i explain thoroughly to them... like if you're playing with neighbors, you must stay where you can see the house and you can hear me holler for you at dinnertime, etc....you MUST wear shoes and helmet to ride your bike...sticks and toy weapons stay outside, keep the kitchen door closed so connor won't go dump my purse again or make a mess of the pantry or open (a childproof top!) and eat an entire bottle of omega-3 gummy fish :roll: :oops:...or worse :shock: [by the way, i have one kitchen entry blocked with a self-closing/self-latching walk thru gate (thanks sarah r!), and i have since ordered another one for where the door is]... blah, blah.
so, there really aren't that many "rules", but several expectations that, even after being lowered, are not being met -- e.g. when you wake up at the crack of dawn, be courteous and play quietly, get some breakfast, watch PBS quietly, etc.

...oh! and the constant "it's not fair!" and i keep correcting them with "no, what's not fair is that *i* end up cleaning up messes i didn't make because no one will help!" or "no, what's not fair is that i bought a special treat for dessert and i didn't get a single bit because you all snuck it and ate it ALL for breakfast before i woke up!" ridiculous. there i go again with the vocabulary lesson; trying to teach the correct usage of "it's not fair"...

this would be yet another opportunity for my mother to inform me that i have too many children. :cry: like that helps. thanks for the support, mom, love ya! :evil:

the weird thing is that robby's behavior has been much better lately than it has been for...ever? at least the past few years. he's starting to act a little more mature, responsible, and obedient. only about half the time, of course. :roll:

kieran is another problem, though. his autistic brain cannot wrap around the majority of the things that i'm trying to get through to them all. his stereotypical "parroting" is starting to seriously annoy me. he repeats things that don't apply, and insists upon them, even as i try to explain things on his level, to the point where i (in order to avoid stimulating a meltdown) just throw up my hands, say "whatever, nevermind" and walk away to someone else who actually understands me.

i feel like i have NO PATIENCE or energy for the gentle, patient get-them-to-help methods -- i can't even think of any that would work at this point. it turns into begging or threatening (to throw their things away) or yelling (which usually turns to tears on my part, as of late) ... i'm at the end of my rope here...


"I know this isn't "virtue training" , but the rule in our house (not ALWAYS applied, but when needed) is, if I put it away, I'm putting it up. That means, what ever is in my hand, goes on the mantle, not back in the bin. It motivates R to get to work and I always offer to help. Most of the time." -HS

we do that occasionally, too. the problem is that the mess slowly accumulates. not the everyday stuff; we (i) pick up pretty much every day, but the little things. things that get kicked under furniture or stuck in corners, apple cores that are dropped and not noticed until there are fruit flies swarming around :oops: ... all of a sudden one day i look around and my jaw drops in horror at how bad the mess has gotten. by that point, threatening to throw away anything that they don't pick up is a ridiculous, overwhelming threat to follow through on, and i'll never do it (okay, i HAVE done it, but i just can't these days). when daddy takes over clean-up supervision, it's drill instructor time...it's effective, but not pleasant AT ALL.

in general, i don't mind a little mess in their rooms -- it is their space, and i don't tend to hang out in there too often. i don't require them to clean up their rooms every day. i don't have the discipline or energy to enforce that. but when it gets to the point where there are clothes everywhere and you can hardly walk through due to fort remnants, etc., i want them to clean up. and they think i'm kidding. i've spent too long doing it for them (on occasion) that they just won't do it themselves. robby is getting better at it, but then again, none of them have very much left that "lives" in their rooms (in fact, robby isn't allowed to keep anything in his room at this point (except his journals, pokemon cards, lego creations, etc). he can play in there, but toys do not live in there. he can take in 5 books, but has to exchange them for new ones at the bookshelf in the hallway.

we did a great purge about 6 months ago, and if i think about it, it has helped, but there is still so much CRAP. i have 4 kids in a 2 kids sized house, so of course there will be a lot of toys. i have had people with one child tell me (after i have purged) that there's too much stuff, and i'm incredulous. how am i supposed to have one kid's worth of toys with four kids with different abilities and interests?? i'm all about simplicity, but it's an uphill battle, especially with overly doting grandparents who apparently don't understand the meaning of "only one gift per child, please" :roll: :evil:

i dream of a home where things are organized and stay that way. i am a meticulous organizer by nature. the chaos of 4 children (and a hubby) who care nothing for organization is excruciating for me. day in and day out. i wish they would put some big messy thing back before taking out another one. or at least put SOMETHING back, period. i would literally have to hover over them 24/7 to make sure these things got done. and i'm busy, and they're busy with their play, and our house is not laid out very well for supervising from any other room... so that's just impossible. there are "locked-up" activities that require permission to use, and they just ignore that request and break right on in. we have put away (like, in the garage) nearly-new games because the pieces got scattered and lost and there's no point in trying to locate them all in order to ever play the game correctly. it's now junk. and let me just say, it's a good thing playing cards are so cheap. cuz if they play with a new deck, it's as good as garbage.

it's always a hassle to get them to pick up their own crap, and the reason why i have given in and done it for them so many times is that i'm just tired of fighting about it. it's exhausting and i feel like it grates on our relationship. however, letting them walk all over me certainly causes a bit of resentment toward them on my part... i just can't win. on one hand, i feel if we lived an extremely minimalist lifestyle, this would not be a problem, heheh. but i like them to have toys. i like to have games to play. it's seriously a daily internal struggle for me...


"Honestly I think you need a little break. Sell something and get a sitter for 1-2 hrs and do something for you. Mothers must take care of themselves to take care of the kids, if you are getting that frazzled (and you are pregnant) you may only need a rest or a break. Kids aren't going to be quiet in the morning so that is probably an unreasonable expectation given their ages and number of kids (1 kid might be quiet, but 3 or 4, forgettaboutit).

What do some of the moms of more than 2 have to say? Will that mother of yours come over and play with them for a bit, so you can just lay down or put your feet up?" -JP

i wish i could afford a sitter. drew is home in the mornings, so that's not a big deal. it's from noon until bedtime that i'm alone with them every day.

as for the mornings, i know they CAN do it. they have. and it's wonderful. it just seems like they forget almost every day... that running up and down the hallway and yelling might actually wake someone up :shock: OMG. and that if they let connor out of our room, they have to make double sure the kitchen stays closed, or there's gonna be a BIG mess. the only other option is for me to drag my booty out of bed as soon as they wake up, and i just can't do that every day. not that early, and not fast enough. esp since i know i don't go to bed early enough to get up that early, because i spend all the "me" time i have after they go to bed catching up on things i didn't get done while they were awake (or simply decompressing after the day -- a much needed ritual).

my mother is NO help at all. she and i have been butting heads for nearly 10 years. she pretty much thinks i need to just lie in the bed that i made by choosing to have lotsa babies. she doesn't even want to try and IMAGINE what my life is like. every explanation i have for anything i do (or don't do) is "just an excuse". we had a huge argument from january-april (yeah), and i have spoken to her twice and seen her once since then. i have chosen to walk away from that toxic relationship, because frankly, she makes me feel like a worthless piece of shit excuse for a mother/wife/daughter/sister/granddaughter/niece/friend/human being. :D :evil:

my dad retired last month and they are in the process of moving to georgia. my mom has already started her new job at brunswick memorial hospital, so she is living up there more often than down here. when they are here, they are working on getting their house ready to sell, or tending to other appts in town. they might as well not be here at all, ever, for all the help they are. never really were much help, but somehow it feels better knowing that their first excuse these days is "i don't live there anymore". oh, do i have some mommy issues... :cry:


"One thing thing I have started doing is trying to combine toys for the kids, like even though I have a lot of girls, we still only really need a couple dolls. We only need one or two containers of blocks, we only need a few books per kid (everything else comes from the library), etc. If each one of the kids has as many toys as an only, than we become seriously overrun with toys, books, etc.

Things like puzzles, art supplies, and board games get put up high and out of reach so that even my oldest has to ask. Then I make sure that they put it up before getting anything else out." -JH

we pretty much already do that. Robby and Kieran have pretty much the same interests. legos, blocks, toy weapons, pokemon/yu-gi-oh cards, etc. i suppose we have more than one child would need of some of those things, but not much, and it's not all in rotation at the same time (e.g. legos and blocks). Devin is into pretend play (dolls, dress-up, kitchen), so we have that stuff too. not an excessive amount either. Connor is pretty much into cars. and cars. and cars. he has quite a collection, but they are mostly small and could easily fit into a file box. as i type this, i think of the actual volume of these things, and it really doesn't seem that bad. okay, that's not including all the confiscated/purged stuff that clutters the garage and is either waiting to be gotten rid of or brought back into rotation eventually (e.g. 80% of the dress up stuff that was taken away after being dragged out and not picked up EVERY DAY for far too long). i really think, as far as toys in the house, the real problem is keeping it organized and picked up.

puzzles and art/craft supplies are already "locked up". i put that in quotes because the lock is a child-proofing thing. only robby can open it, although lately he says kieran has learned how. the problem is when robby thinks he can sneak in and grab something without asking, and then he forgets to lock it back. both of those actions piss me off. he has left kid scissors out and devin has cut her hair or connor has cut holes in our brand new, very expensive slipcovers :evil: :evil: :evil: i swear, i need to get a chain and combination lock! that seems so extreme, but is apparently necessary. we actually did that to the twins' closet, because they kept dragging clean clothes out and they'd get mixed with dirty ones and i'd end up washing things over and over... it didn't last long, and that's not such a problem anymore...hmmm, i think i will have to re-purpose that lock now... i just hate the thought of treating them like inmates like that -- a "real" lock just looks so...i don't know. but i guess it's the only way until things shape up a bit. on the other hand, teachers tend to keep cabinets locked in their classrooms, right???

i am a huge fan of the duggars. not that i would EVER have that many children, but i have taken a lot from them. i just wish i had begun instilling some of these expectations more firmly/consistently in my children when they were younger. maybe the fact that we don't have regular cable anymore (and thus i don't watch the duggars' show anymore) has something to do with me losing my way, haha! i used to TiVo the show, and so i was constantly inspired by them...


"My parents didn't have any regular expectations of us; it was all random and arbitrary, and so nothing really stuck, and we didn't develop HABITS like some of my friends did whose parents had very clear and systematic rules about maintaining order in the house. I wouldn't ever want to be obsessive or overly anxious about it, but I *would* like to give my children the gift of basic life management skills - like cleaning up one thing before you start another, taking care of your belongings, taking pride in your environment, noticing when something needs to be cleaned and doing it without being asked......The one thing I will say is that I think consistency is really critical in this endeavor (and I know this because my parents were lacking in it!) We can't enforce things only periodically, when we get overwhelmed. We need daily rituals, and once they become automatic, it's not a struggle anymore." -SM

i have struggled to establish rituals for my entire motherhood! :lol: some things have stuck over the years, but most haven't. or we/i'll do something for a while, and then it slowly slips out of the routine. i guess that's just my nature -- i'm inconsistent, heh.

i think my main obstacle is exhaustion. my back problems pose so many more problems than one would think...it makes the physical side of homemaking and parenting impossible at times, so i have had to be very careful in picking my battles so i don't wind up pulling my back out and on pain killers and in physical therapy for weeks/months. it has been a long time since that happened, but i had to learn the hard way 3 times (majorly, and multiple minor incidents) before finally surrendering to listening to my body and recognizing what i really can and cannot do. that causes the deep-cleaning spurts to come in waves...the mess gets horrible, i go nuts taking care of it, strain my back, have to take it easy for several days, rinse, repeat... and there is a firm connection between physical pain and emotional pain. i feel inadequate and lazy when i can't keep do things the way i want or as often as i want (and this includes assisting the children in establishing said "life management skills"), and this causes lowered self-esteem, shame, and depression. this vicious cycle is one of the things my mother dismisses as "just an excuse" (seriously, i have become a psychological cliche lately with all my mommy issues :roll: ).

it does seem like it would be much simpler to just divide everything evenly and tackle a little every day. on most days, i do a good bit; it's just never enough. and there are days that i do next to nothing to get ahead, whether we are away from the house, or someone doesn't feel well, or i'm just plain tired. when the children were younger and i was in and out of college, they went to campus childcare from about 18 months on. i had plenty of time to get the housework done and it was amazing how put-together i was. now, i have more children, and have chosen to homeschool. i will not go back on that choice again -- i tried public school with robby twice, and it was disastrous. even the preschool, while not interfering academically, caused problems with the bonds i had with my children. i chose to have lots of babies, yes, and i need to act like a mama. my mother also used to wonder aloud why it was that i would "pawn them off" when i wasn't doing so to go to work or school. uuuugh. wow, guilt trip, mom? okay, i'm laughing at myself for bringing up my mom so much, but a lot of crap has been laid out on the table with her over the past 6 months, old wounds reopened, blinders ripped away, etc. very heartbreaking; i'm still processing...

ANYHOO, since the big changes have happened over the past few months for us (Drew starting police academy and pre-k ending for the twins -- so, me suddenly alone with all the kids full time...and i'm pregnant to boot :lol: :roll: ----also my choice! you're right, mom, i made my bed!). the cycle has been: mess---> mama freak-out---> kids reflecting my mood---> uncooperative rebellion---> more mama freak out---> no progress on anyone's part---> more mess (rinse and repeat again). *SIGH* for a while there, i had someone coming to help clean and fold laundry once a week. i justified the expense as medical :wink: , because really, it is preventive medicine for me, on a few levels. but that's been over for several weeks now. and my therapist resigned to spend more time with her children (go figure), so i haven't had that to rely on as a sounding board/venting opportunity in well over a month now -- i'm waiting to be placed with a new one as soon as they find the right fit for me. hmmm... i think i am starting to figure this out, haha!

the only problem is that having someone else come clean does not help the children acquire habits and responsibilities in this department. my long-time friend was supposed to replace our helper (and for cheaper!), but she's now in a play in orlando, which she is balancing with a full-time job here in gainesville, so she is not available until the play is over, really (and i don't know when that will be). being the childless, doting "aunt" that she is, she would be great in helping motivate the children in a fun, patient way, but i'm just WAAAAAITING for that to start now.