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Waiting Is Hard!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new show on PBS.  It’s a spin-off of the old Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and I love it.  So do my kids.  Since I have a pretty strict TV policy in our house, I was excited to include this as part of my children’s programming repertoire.

I think I have learned as much from this show as my kids have.  I have learned that waiting is hard, getting mad is okay, and playing with people is more important than playing with toys.  Okay, so I might have known those things before, but Daniel Tiger reminded me of their importance.

This last month I found myself in a tough spot.  I was feeling very tired.  Tired of not having any time to myself, or time to work out, or time to just think/eat/sleep.  (Not to mention that silly depression came out again.)  So I thought, “Hey! You can make time!”  And I did.  I used my nap times, bed times, and any time I could think of to work out/read/eat.  Soon I was so exhausted that I was crying every night.

In the midst of this, I remembered a goal I made before Andrew was born to not worry about things like working out or having any “alone” time until my baby was at least 6 months.  By then, s/he would have a more regular schedule and hopefully sleep for longer than 2-3 hour spurts.  Sound advice, right?

But, doggone it! Waiting for that is hard.  I want to work out. I want time when I’m not surrounded by my 3 and 4 year-old or holding my baby.  However, Ben works a lot and we live too far away from friends.  Rather than banging my head on the door from frustration, I am learning to be patient.  It’s like when Amelia was really colicky. Though it was hard, I could rely on my previous knowledge of that period ending.  Guess what? It did.  Sooner than I expected.

I hear often that moms need time to themselves so they can recharge.  It’s true. However, when circumstances prevail and it just doesn’t happen or is impossible to realize, is it really helpful to dwell on it?*  To cry, scream, or thrown oneself on the ground in absolute frustration?**  I don’t think so.  This is where Daniel Tiger’s infinite wisdom comes in: while waiting is hard, that period won’t last forever.

Thanks Daniel Tiger for reminding me of this valuable lesson.

*I am certainly not advocating to do way with alone time, because it is important for a parent’s health.  I just think that sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and a parent doesn’t need to carry around extra guilt for not putting one more thing on their check-list.
**Though I certainly reserve the right to cry, scream, and throw myself on the ground in frustration occasionally.  Sometimes it just feels good.
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The Day I Couldn't Stop Crying

When I reached the third trimester of Amelia’s pregnancy, and started preparing for the birth, I began yearning for the peace of the hospital room.  I have many friends who prefer home births because they find it more serene than the hustling hospital birth.  I understand.  But, for me, the hospital is much more relaxing because it means space and time to myself and being served – literally – 24/7.

Once I had Amelia, and settled into the room, I didn’t want to leave. It was peaceful. I had meals brought to me.  I spent 24/7 holding my infant.  It was heaven.

On the day before I was to go home, I started crying and I couldn’t stop.

I haven’t told very many people about this event because as much as I fight against the stigma of depression/anxiety/everyothermentalillness, I know it still exists.  I also don’t want sympathy or cries of “I didn’t know, I would have helped!” because there really isn’t much a person could do to help, or “so glad you’re feeling better!”  because I don’t ever get better.  The sadness/worry is always hovering above my head waiting until THAT moment to rain down.

As the nurses tried to comfort me, I cried even more.  How could I explain to them that I didn’t want to go home?  That I wanted to stay in the hospital for months?

My reasons for crying were legion: returning to our tiny apartment that always hovered near 100 degrees during that hot summer; having to surrender laundry duties to Ben because we don’t have a washer and dryer; having 3 flights of stairs (or 52 steps) separate me from the rest of the world; having all my friends live too far away to visit without a car; being alone with my kids for 10-14 hours a day when Ben returned to work; and not being able to take the kids outside to run around because we don’t have a yard (that’s safe) and don’t have parks nearby.

I continued crying throughout the rest of my hospital stay and for the whole day I was home with Ben before he returned to work.

Guilt.

When I think of wanting to stay in a little hospital bed surrounded by machines, instead of home with my dear husband and sweet children, I wonder what was wrong with me.

Except I know.

I know that my fears weren’t unfounded.  Heck, Amelia is almost 3 months now and I still wake up with that fear clutching my heart and those suffocating feelings of can I really do this today?

These feelings aren’t because I have three children.  It’s because we, the kids and I, are stuck; with no car, no parks, and no friends close by we quickly grow tired of each other.

But, unlike the other periods of suffocating postpartum depression, I have insight and perspective.  I also have hope – even if it is fleeting.  I know that this time really will end.  In 4.5 months we will move from this place with it’s 52 steps and isolating location.  We will find somewhere that allows us to stretch, to walk, and to interact with people who will, hopefully, become lifelong friends.

Yes. Light seeps through the darkness.

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A Miracle: Amelia's Birth Story

Whether you look at it from a scientific or a religious perspective, Amelia’s pregnancy and birth were truly a miracle.  Statistically, since I had a history of recurrent miscarriages – with no discernible cause after a bazillion tests – it was unlikely that I could carry another child so soon after my fourth loss.  Yet, for whatever reason – be it the progesterone from early conception or my uterus just figuring things out – the pregnancy stuck.

After a hellish first 20 weeks, a fantastic intermediary 10 weeks, and the on-set of pre-term labor at 30 weeks (with bed rest, hospital visits, medications, etc), it is amazing Amelia stayed in as long as she did.

My labor contractions began at 8 pm on Sunday evening, the night before 36 weeks. They came at regular 5-10 minute intervals throughout the night, keeping me awake and moaning in pain.  I woke up knowing this was it.  However, given my history of long labors (Andrew’s was 48 hours), I knew better than to sit and wait.  So, after dropping Ben off at work, I drove to our favorite park for a lovely 4 mile walk, pushing the stroller.  Afterwards, we went home and I drank a delicious cocktail of Dr. Pepper and Castor oil (gag!)  (which I would not have taken had I not already started labor).  The contractions were still steadily coming at 5 – 10 minute intervals.  The kids and I settled in for our afternoon nap in which they slept and I alternated between writhing in pain and texting Ben.  I started timing the contractions using a cool internet site and was surprised to see them coming in at 2 – 5 minute intervals. However, they weren’t at THAT point yet.   And, despite my initial prognosis in the morning, I was feeling understandably tired and defeated.  After an hour, I decided to get up and pack things.  In between contractions and tears, I managed to get the kids’ bags and my suitcase packed.

We picked Ben up from work and went home for a bite to eat.  I cried on Ben’s shoulder, terrified that I would be in labor forever.  He encouraged me to call the doctor, so I did.  Through contractions and sobs, I managed to convey that I did not want to go to the hospital only to be sent home.  (For whatever reason, it takes my uterus hours of contractions to go from a dilation of a 2 to a 5 and the contractions did not have the “5” feeling yet.)  But the doctor convinced me to head to the hospital, so I re-checked the bags, added a few forgotten items, and called my good friend, J., who had already volunteered to take the kids for us.

That hour and 15 minute trip was ridiculously tiring.  Once we dropped the kids off, who were excited to have a sleepover at their friend’s house, I alternated between breathing through contractions that were lasting between 1-2 minutes every 2 minutes and crying because I didn’t think we’d ever get to the hospital.  We finally arrived at 9 pm.  The walk from the car to the building was, um, fun.

Once we were placed in the triage room, the nurse, Heather, checked me and I was delighted to hear I was dilated to a 3.5 and 75% effaced (the last time I had been checked, over a week ago, I was a 2 so that means over the last 24 hours I had progressed 1.5 cm, yay?!). To see if I was still progressing (despite the obvious contractions coming at 3 – 5 minute intervals), I was monitored for an hour.  Nothing.  Heather recommended another hour in which I used a combination of birthing ball movements and squats during contractions to try and speed things up.  She checked me again and I was at a 4.  She consulted with the doctor after hearing my plea of “remember, I’m in pain!” They agreed to let me stay for more monitoring. A very wise decision.  After 30 minutes, they moved me from the triage room into a delivery room at which point the contractions had reached their pinnacle, or for the “5” of which I had been waiting.  Heather checked me again and announced that I had, indeed, reached a 5!  I was admitted, finally, and the nurse anesthetist was called (honestly, doing a natural birth after weeks of pre-term contractions and over 24 hours of contracting was not a possibility). At 1 am, I was given an epidural (which took like 45 minutes and was pure torture) and rested as much as I could with consistent contractions.  After an hour or so, I felt liquid pouring out.  I called the nurse who checked me and said, “your water broke!”  Since my water has never broken naturally, I was thrilled!  However, I was still only a 5 and 75% effaced.  After another 5 hours (around 7 am) and literally no progress, I called Heather because I felt intense pressure in my pelvic area.  She came in, checked me and called in another nurse.  That nurse checked me and said, “um, call the doctor, she’s at a 10 and this baby is ready!”  I had gone from a 5 to a 10 in one hour.

We waited for the doctor.  Since I was only 36 weeks, they also had to call in a NICU nurse, a pediatrician, and a few other people for after the baby was born to make sure he/she was okay.  Finally, after what felt like an eternity and me trying really hard to keep the baby in and force my body not to push, the doctor arrived. (Another first, for me, was the push feeling.) After 2.5 pushes, the baby came out.  I looked down, saw the baby’s parts, and shouted, “it’s a girl!!!  It’s Amelia!!”  Since everyone around me, including Ben, were convinced that we were having a boy, I laughed a bit because they were all WRONG!  And I was right.  Ha ha! (I’m adult like that.)

 

After 35.5 hours in labor, I had a precious, baby girl.  Ben told me later (I was in a sleep deprived haze and could barely think) that the cord was wrapped around her neck a bit and Amelia was a gray color.  After Ben cut the cord (an amazing experience), the NICU nurse and pediatrician took her to the table for further examination.  She quickly acquired a pink look, breathed on her own, and whined a bit.  The doctor helped me birth the placenta and happily told me I had no tearing (another first!).  Amelia was ready (after being weighed [5 lbs. 15 oz] and measured [19 3/4 in.]) to meet me and her daddy.  Ben brought her over and I cried big, fat tears of happiness.  I brought her to my breast and gave her the first few drops of colostrum while Ben announced her arrival – via phone – to our family and kids.  We took pictures (I took a few with my nurse, whom I had already developed a relationship with, she was THAT amazing) and exchanged looks and hugs of shock and amazement.

Once Amelia and I were settled, Ben left to get the kids.  The nurse took the baby to the nursery for all the requisite tests and the Hep B shot while I was taken to the recovery room and given a delicious breakfast.  I dozed as I waited for Ben to return with Emily and Andrew and the nurse to return with Amelia.

When the kids arrived, they ran over and hugged me.  Emily happily announced, “Mommy! I’m so happy the baby is out of your tummy!”  Soon, the nurse brought Amelia back in and the kids spoiled her with hugs and kisses.

 

The rest of the hospital stay was a blur of nursing, diaper changing, pediatrician and nurse evaluations, visits with Ben and the kids, phone calls, and sleep.  We had to stay an extra day because of Amelia’s early arrival and a few other things, and happily arrived home on Friday.

Since then it’s been busy.  I am still in shock to have this precious angel after 2 years of losses and suffering.  She is our miracle.

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Women Who Run With the Wolves: A Book Club

Women Who Run with the Wolves

Books.  I love books.  I especially love books that help me learn about myself and things I struggle with.  Thus, when a friend brought up Women Who Run With the Wolves as a potential book club pick, I immediately agreed.  Since we are spread all over the country, we’ve decided to make it an on-line book club and invite all who wish to participate.  I am joining ranks with the lovely Genevieve to host this fabulous book club and discussion.  I think her lovely introduction of the book will convince you.

Introduction: Singing Over the Bones

Clarissa Pinkola Estés introduces us to her wonderful book with beautiful prose describing her youth and womanhood and the repressed wildness of so many women today. She teaches us who the Wild Women is, The One Who Knows, the inner part of our psyche that takes our trembling hand to lead us into darkness or light depending on our needs or instinct. The Wild Woman is not the waifish angel or goddess; she is gnarled and old, earthy and tangled, dark and defiant.

“Stories are medicine.” Estés takes us on a journey through the landscape of her childhood, when she was surrounded by elders and wise ones who used stories to teach culture, history, and even psychology. She earned her doctorate in ethno-clinical psychology, and became a respected Jungian analyst. Dreams, archetypes, and stories are her bread and butter and she happily shares with those who will join her at the table.

“This is a book of women’s stories, held out as markers along the path. They are for you to read and contemplate in order to assist you toward your own natural-won freedom, your caring for self, animals, earth, children, sisters, lovers, and men.”

I have found the stories in this book to be parables for my own life. I can easily see some of them coming from the mouth of Jesus as He taught principles like forgiveness or love. I relate well to stories as a teaching medium, and Jungian analysis with its archetypes and mysticism captivates me.

Are you ready for this journey?

Order your copy today and join us for a fabulous discussion of chapter one on Monday, July 16.

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Decision Time

Hello friends,

I left you hanging with my last post and wanted to update you. I have decided to withdraw and resume my studies with a different, better program in a year or so. I am in the last week and very busy, so will give a much more detailed and thoughtful post next week.

Love,

Amber

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Eleven

The lovely Kate tagged me in this meme and I am thrilled to participate!

The Rules:
1. Post the rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself along with 11 random facts.
3. Answer the questions given to you in the  tagger’s post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag new people to answer them.
5. Visit the people you tagged to let them know.

My Photo

My husband takes the worst pictures, seriously. But this is one of the only recent ones I have of myself.

11 Random Things

1.  I take a nap almost every day.

2.  My birthday is this month.  Next week, actually.  I will be turning 25.  Twenty-five. It’s taken my husband 6 months to convince me of this because, for whatever reason, I am convinced I am 23.

3. I love being pregnant and I’m a cute pregnant lady. If I could skip the first, hellish, hyperemesis gravidarum-filled trimester I would have more kids.

4. I almost had a nervous breakdown when I was a freshman and sophomore in college.  Like I should have been placed in a psychiatric unit. Luckily, my mom intervened and sent me to a therapist to work things out.

5. Ben and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary this year yet I think that number does not accurately reflect how long we’ve been together – 9 years – or how much we have been through together.

6. Emily has a serious attitude and is incredibly stubborn.  She is just like me.

7. I really like surprises and I guess that’s why not finding out this baby’s gender has been so easy for me.

8. As many of you know, I have fought ambivalence toward this pregnancy since the beginning.  The ultrasound really changed that and I am starting to get really excited.  I have even thought about names!  (This makes Ben happy as he has been pushing me to think about names since the beginning.)

9. I didn’t attend prom or any high school dance.

10. I am certified to teach Zumba but haven’t actually taught any classes, probably because I went to the training when I was 10 or 12 weeks pregnant and, obviously, have not had much energy or time to do any thing.

Kate’s Questions:

1. Improvisation or by the book?

Personality-wise, I am definitely a rules person.  

2. Dirt in you finger nails or gardening gloves? Or ugh, I’d never garden?

HA, “ugh, I’d never garden” pretty much describes me.  It goes along with my preference for gloves.

3. What was your favorite age as a kid?

Eight. I remember it being such a magical age and I still think it is/was.

4. What’s your favorite children’s movie?

It’s a tie between Finding Nemo and The Emperor’s New Groove. 

5. What would the perfect night out look like? Who would you go with? Where would you go?

My perfect night would include Ben and another couple.  We’d find an awesome bar down town for dinner and drinks then go dancing.  I love dancing. 

6. Do you prefer the swings or a slide?

If size weren’t an issue, I’d totally go for the slide. 

7. What’s the stangest pet you’ve had? Or touched?

My sister and I decided to adopt rats and took care of them for a few months until the girl had babies (yes, we stupidly bought a boy and a girl) and the boy died.  As strange as it sounds, I really did love having those rats as pets.  (We named them Jeff and Cindy.)

8. What  movies you can watch again and again?

My whole library!  Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version), The Interpreter, Signs, Lady In the Water, Batman Begins, Spanglish, and so many more. 

9. What do you think of those markers that color only on special paper?

You know, I haven’t had much experience with them.  Markers, crayons, and all tools that might make marks on our walls are not allowed in our house.  That’s the difficulty in renting, I guess.

10. What’s your favorite lullaby? (I need some new ones.)

I have two: Golden Slumbers from Baby Mine (all the songs on that album are awesome) and John Lennon’s Beautiful, Darling Boy.

11. What do you love to do that might seem at odds with how your life looks?

This is a difficult question.  I really love working even though I’m a stay-at-home mom right now.  I love hiking despite my hatred of bugs, camping, and general outdoorsy stuff.  I love rap, R&B, and soul despite, as my neighbors remind me, of my very white background (I think this shows how silly racial lines are in our country, lines created on all sides and across different ethnic backgrounds and races).  I suppose that my life is full of inconsistencies.

My Questions

1. If you could have gone into any profession (apart from being a mom), what would you have done?

2. What are some items on your bucket list?

3. Do you have a favorite color? What is it?

4. Did you read the Hunger Games? Have you seen the movie? What did you think?  (I have selfish motives behind this question)

5. What places, foreign and local, have you visited? What were your favorites?

6. Did you attend college? Why or why not?

7. What are some things you are passionate about?

8. Do you read parenting books?

9. Any book/movie recommendations?

10. Serious or funny?

11. Preferred music genre?

People

Wolf at Daily Plate of Crazy

Kristen at Motherese

Cathy at All I Want to Say

JoAnna at A Star of Hope

Tiffany at Elastamom

Kristen at Enjoying Every Moment 

The Undomestic Housewife

The Mommy Psychologist

and whoever else wants to play along!  (Please do not feel obligated. Seriously.)

Also, next week is Five for Five. Join. You’ll thank me.

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The First Day of Spring and the New Healthcare Bill

To celebrate the first day of Spring, we took the kiddos for a walk to our local duck pond.  On our way there, we ran into some good friends.  General chatter turned to medical school and meandered its way to the proposed health care bill.  They reminded us of its impending vote.  Actually, they reminded Ben and surprised me.  I know, I’m a great citizen.

Anyway, we soon said our good-byes and went on our way.  In the middle of  playing with our babies, we forgot about the vote.  Until the next morning.  That’s when Ben informed me it when through.

“Oh.  What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure.”

This is how I feel about the bill, as well.  Let me explain.

I know far too many people who are unable to get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.  So, when I heard the bill is outlawing this, I did a little dance.

I won’t go into my beliefs regarding health care here, as they are multi-faceted and much too complex to explain in a little post, but I will hint at it with this statement:  People’s lives should not be endangered because they cannot afford health care.

On the other hand, I have my doubts about this reform.

First off, how are we going to pay for it?  With the deficit running at a record high, where in the heck is the money coming from?  Are taxes going to be hiked 50%?  Or, are we going to (finally) cut back on unnecessary spending? (Ahem…defense spending…ahem.)

Second off, will this affect a doctor’s pay?

See, there is a rumor going around that doctor’s pay will be cut.  (If this is wrong, feel free to correct me. ) While it may seem absurd and quite selfish to ask this question,  I think I have a justified reason for wondering.

My husband is currently looking at med schools to apply to.  There is one in particular that is at the top of the list.  Its tuition alone is $40,000 a year.  Add that to undergrad debt and, well, we will be paying off our loans for the next 5000+ years.

The money isn’t everything.  He will be spending around 70 hours a week at school.  Solo parenting, here I come.

In short, we are sacrificing money and time to send my husband through medical school.  I would really like to see SOME kind of financial pay-off!

(Of course, I married a guy who is noble.  He is thinking about going into primary care  in a low-income area–NOT esepcially lucrative .  The nerve.)

Contrary to popular belief, many students do not attend medical school because the financial pay-offs.  Believe me, the pay-offs are much lower than one would expect.  The issue really isn’t the money.  The issue, in my mind, is whether or not a cap will be placed on how much a doctor can earn.  I find that to be wrong.  I don’t see a cap being placed on a CEO’s salary! Look what good they have done for this country.

This concern could very well be founded in lies–I’m just putting it out there.

In the end, though, I am really more happy than sad that this bill passed.  It’s about time we took care of our own people.

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