My husband and I went on vacation to, literally, the other side of the world. We went to Thailand and Cambodia. It was an amazing, breath-taking, beautiful, glorious, memorable trip.
I don't know if you've ever traveled 13 time zones away, but let me assure you that Jet Lag can be a real stinker when you get home. I'm hungry at weird times, not hungry for lunch, feel like I'm running through the ocean when I work out during the day, super tired at 2pm, go to bed around 9, wide awake at 3am. For me, anyway.
My husband, for whatever reason, is having trouble falling asleep all together. His jet lag looks more like: exhausted until bedtime, wide awake until 3 or 4 am. (Which is really closer to the time we would be awake over there.) He's been struggling with it for almost a week, and some anxiety has crept in now (as I am sure anyone who has experienced insomnia can understand. That anxiety element is just horrid.) As we laid in bed last night, and talked about it, he said to me "you know what the worst part about it is? It is really lonely."
When I thought about it, I totally got it. I mean, I am so lonely when he travels, especially the 2 hours after the kids go to bed until I go to sleep. (I usually mask it with some Netflix binging, but it is still there.) That longing for his companionship. His friendship. His knowledge of us doing the same things through out the day and sharing about it at night.
As I thought about it more, I remembered one of the worst things about repeated miscarriages for me. It was the loneliness. The feeling of isolation. Because this tiny little being had left my body. From the time I was pregnant, until the time I miscarried, there was the knowledge of someone with me. The knowledge that the person was no longer within me was lonely.
There's also some kind of weird taboo that comes with miscarriage. Like, we need to tell people about our sorrow in whispered tones, because speaking it too loud makes people uncomfortable. Often, we are convinced it may be better not to talk about it at all, and we are left to face our grief alone.
There was also a loneliness in the birth trauma I experienced after my first birth. People didn't understand, would often diminish my feelings, and I didn't have people to talk to about it. I felt confused. I had a lot of guilt over feeling anything but happy about the birth.
If I am being completely open and vulnerable, it is also lonely to have a child who is more "difficult" than most. It often feels like isolation for fear of talking about said difficulties may result in judgment or loss of friends. There's that feeling of loneliness because most people don't quite understand what it is like to have a truly defiant child. It feels like you are alone in your daily struggles.
I've tried very hard in my life to be open and vulnerable when it comes to my life's struggles. Not because it feels good.( Y'all, it really, really, really does not feel good.) But, to maybe let someone know that THEY are not alone. Someone else is there, has been there, or may be there too!
I've joined groups that talk about the things that I have struggled with that made me feel lonely. I have read blogs and written them. I have cried for lost babies, rejoiced in new births, prayed silently and corporately with friends and strangers who are struggling with things I have struggled with.
Maybe loneliness is one of those things that helps shape us. Maybe it helps change us, pushing us into action. Shapes our empathy. Makes us more sensitive to others.
Maybe there's beauty to be found in the loneliness.
So, in case you don't know yet, parenting can be hard. It can be wonderful, fulfilling, a joy, too. We see a lot of examples of that on Facebook.
You know what I mean. That picture of little Julie helping bake with mom? Carefully stirring the cookie mix, not having ANY of the flour come out of the bowl all over the counter. Not showing the 9 eggs she "axidentawlly" dropped on the ground. Just Julie, looking like an angel, sweetly obeying.
I am not hating on these sweet pictures depicting precious moments. Not at all. Usually the experience is still positive and the picture is a reminder of that. Sometimes, as moms, you desperately need to hold on to that reminder.
I had a situation last night when posting a picture to Instagram. It is a picture of my oldest son, playing the recorder at his recorder concert. My first thought at a caption was "Had fun at my oldest's concert". But, then I thought, why not be real? Why not be vulnerable and honest? Why not write a reminder to myself (via my time hop next year, right?) of what this picture had behind it and how it ended.
So, what really happened?
We almost didn't make it to the concert at all.
I was about 3 minutes away from calling my husband and in-laws to tell them to not come. Eric had class, so he was going to be late to the concert. Isaac, my 5 year old, was absolutely besides himself, throwing a minor tantrum (ok, not minor. There was stomping of feet, and banging of hands on the ground, a face down, some one, who was not me, screaming into the carpet.) Eliza, well, she is wild in general and was acting exceptionally wild. Running around the house in her Elsa dress, around in circles around our kitchen island. Olivia, my oldest, had ballet, and had to get ready to be picked up, which means I had to comb her hair and put it into a tight bun (which is not really my spiritual gift or love language) .
There's the scene. When it was finally time to get ready to go, Austin started crying and sobbing that he didn't want to go. He was upset that he didn't know the songs (nerves) and that his favorite shoes were on the roof, (which, oiy. The boys thought it would be a GREAT idea to throw his shoes at the football that got stuck on the roof. Both of them. But, that's a different tale to tell for a different day.)
I don't even remember how it all worked out, other than me saying a quick prayer asking for help. How it got from this point to the final point. But, it did. I got Olivia's hair in a great bun, my in-laws picked up the boys and took them to the concert early, Olivia was on her way to ballet, Eliza and I headed to the concert. Eric met us there.
And, then, there we were, watching Austin play his recorder. He looked proud and happy and joyful. I took a picture of him playing his recorder. It is a sweet snapshot in time, which may only communicate that to those who see it. But, for me, it is a reminder that even in our worst moments as parents, things are never to bad for us to ask for help to turn them around.
Austin said he had fun, and I really hope that is what he remembers from last night. If he doesn't, though, I hope he remembers that mommy not only tried her best, but asked for help.
I wish I could say that this scene was an anomaly. Unfortunately, it isn't. But, at the end of the day, I am ok with it. I am ok with real life. I am ok with getting to the end result with feeling like we did our best, and when it wasn't good enough, God met us there. That's what I want my kids to remember.
This breastfeeding thing is hard! There's so much out there about what to eat and not to eat, about what might be upsetting your little one's tummy, or what I'm eating that might be making her fussy. I've cut out dairy and peanut butter, sugar and wheat, eggs and soy...I know it's important for a breastfeeding mom to get enough calories and I feel like I'm running out of options!
But I want to do whatever I can so that my 12 week old daughter gets what she needs. One thing I'm having difficulty figuring out with any sort of elimination diet is why her poop is green. Her pediatrician says not to worry--as long as it isn't black or red, the color of poop doesn't matter. But it wasn't always green; for a short time after we brought her home, it was seedy yellow. I recently went one day without eating chicken, and her poop went back to yellow. Now it's green only rarely and usually then, only at night.
Can you tell me what's up? Do I really have to stop eating chicken, too?
If you haven't already, I suggest first doing some research on Foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. That can be one cause of green poop that often masks itself as food sensitivities. If you think it still may be something you're eating, you can try an elimination diet (various ones found online.) But, it is important to keep at it for several weeks as it takes a while for the proteins to be completely eliminated out of babies system.
I actually guest blogged a few years ago about my daughter's bought with MSPI (Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance.) If you'd like to read about how we got to the bottom of the green poo, check it out here.
Hope this helps!
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula
"Surprise, Surprise! Uh, uh, uh, Happy Birthday!" Thoughts on accepting gifts and help from friends.
Eliza, my youngest, has been super into Cinderella. Again. And still. (We were on a Sleeping Beauty kick for several months, along with Frozen for a while.) I've been reading at least two versions of the story a day (How, and why, exactly, do we have 5 slightly different versions of the story in book form??) She watches her favorite parts on the kindle when I take her with me to the work out room at the clubhouse.
One of her favorite scenes is where the mice are lamenting about how much cinderella has to do, and she won't be able to go to the ball. Then, they come up with the idea to finish the dress themselves. They come together, work hard, and make this beautiful, amazing dress to gift Cinderella.
Cinderella is worn down, beaten, downhearted, she comes into her room to find this amazing gift. What does she do? She thanks them.
Imagine if instead of Cinderella accepting a dress, it was a new mother and her friends all came together and offered to help her with meals, or even watching an older sibling. What would her response be? Would she even accept it? Would she pretend to have her act together and assume she needs to be self-sufficient?
I was a new mother once. (albeit, a while ago, it seems now) I remember the ridiculous amount of guilt I had in accepting meals from our Sunday School group. Feeling inadequate as a mother because I was too sore and tired from recovering from a cesarean birth and breastfeeding difficulties to cook meals for my husband. I felt overwhelmed with motherhood in general, and the inadequacies of not being able to have a vaginal birth or having breastfeeding come naturally just pushed me over the edge. It didn't take much for the insecurities to take root and for me to refuse offers of help much past two weeks postpartum.
Here's the thing though, (or one of the things) I really needed help past those first two weeks. I was just too proud, too insecure, too polite, and too immature to accept the gifts of help graciously. I secretly felt that the people who were bringing me meals were doing it out of a sense of obligation, and I was supposed to "politely" put up a fuss about their offers to help. I was "supposed" to be able to do it on my own.
On the other side of my journey to motherhood, I now realize what those people were really offering. It wasn't to make me feel more inadequate. It wasn't to "judge" me or my inability to feed anyone. It was to help lighten the load. Most of those women had given birth before, many of them were multiple time moms. They knew because they had been there.
So my advice from my experience is to suck up your pride and accept help. Welcome the people who are trying to lighten the load. Don't wave them away, say "we've got this" even if you do. Just take a cue from Cinderella. Twirl around with that dress and say "oh, thank you so much."
It wasn't multiple child syndrome (the syndrome one has when they have multiple children. Other symptoms might include not having a baby book, or not compulsive writings of "firsts".) I didn't cry because I wasn't sad. I was happy.
I won't get into it all, but I will tell you that it sucked. (If you want to read more about it, I blogged about it here.) Yes, God used those losses in a way that I never imagined. But, it still sucked in the middle, deep pit of it all (even though God met us there.)
One of those pregnancies, we found out we were pregnant around the same time as a friend. A friend I saw often. We, obviously, lost the baby. My friend did not. It was not her fault in any way, shape, or form, but it hurt for a long time to watch her son grow up. (Not in an angry at her way, or angry at him way. In a, miss-my-baby way. Just want to be clear on that.) It hurt because I was watching him do all of the things that our baby would never do.
That same due-date baby's major milestones were always an emotional blow. Those blows lessened after having Isaac and Eliza. But, the day he started kindergarten was especially hard on me. It was a big milestone. One I wasn't prepared to hurt so much, because, y'all, I had TWO MORE CHILDREN by then. (Grief is fun like that.) But, the baby that we lost, he/she was still our baby, too. And, gosh, I missed him/her. Hard.
So, yesterday, as Isaac walked into the gym at his school, and as he sat down in line and as I walked him to his class, I was so proud of him. Beyond that, all I could think was a small pray of thanksgiving "Thank you for letting us/him have this experience."
So, no, I didn't cry for Isaac. Because, he's here, and growing up well. But, when I got home, I again cried for the babies we never met outside my womb.
I've heard that it is good to eat dates during late pregnancy. Is this true?
Yes! There was a study conducted by The Jordan University of Science and Technology on late pregnancy consumption of dates. They found some interesting/positive results in the group of women who consumed dates compared to those who did not:
The study says the women ate approximately 3-7 dates in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. Go buy that bulk sized container of dates at Costco, whip up something yummy to eat with your date or alone, and enjoy!
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula
*some of my favorite date recipes:
paleo energy balls
chocolate coconut date balls
banana date smoothie
bacon wrapped dates
moroccan stuffed dates
or just eat them plain!
What are your suggestions for the best way to labor at home before going to the hospital? Positions, activities, etc.
You know the old burger king saying "have it your way?" That's kind of how you should labor at home. The best way is your way. Various positions, while helpful to know, usually fall by the way side as you find your own groove. Find a position that works, and let your body do what your body needs to do.
But, that's putting the cart in front of the horse. I have heard it said, and I say it to my clients, when you first think you're in labor: deny, distract, rest. (I like to change it to "dream" for the "3d" approach, myself. )
Deny: I've heard a lot of birth stories of women who show up to the hospital well into labor and they tell the nurse "I didn't think it was labor at first, so I just kept working" (or doing whatever it was that they were doing before they noticed contractions.
Distract: Have you heard the suggestions to bake cookies for the nurses (or doula. ahem.) while in early labor? That works great, too. Keeping your mind off the contractions actually helps you relax, instead of focusing on them- semi-wishing for them to get stronger/longer/closer together.
Dreaming: If those contractions start at night, go back to bed if you can! I know this one is hard, ladies. You're pumped, excited, anxious to meet that sweet babe. But, I promise your future active laboring self will thank you if you try to rest. It doesn't have to be actual sleep, though that would be fantastic if you could. But, being still, closing your eyes, listening to soft music, praying, etc. will help keep your energy up later.
There will be a time when you can no longer deny, distract, or dream as early labor approaches active labor. Depending on when you have decided to go to the hospital, you may or may not still be at home. Some suggestions for positions or activities include:
(this is obviously NOT a full list. I just wanted to share a few ideas.)
9 years ago, I was 38 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. I was hoping/praying desperately that I would be able to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
Even though he was my second child, I wasn't all together 100% sure that I would know when it was "time". I had preterm labor with my first, followed by weeks and weeks of contractions with an irritable uterus, dilated to 5cm for WEEKS, and eventually had an induction. With this baby, though, lots of Braxton hicks, but I just wasn't "sure" that I would "know" it was time.
When labor first started, I thought I had made a poor choice in our dinner location. I hadn't eaten a lot of greasy food toward the end of my pregnancy, and we went to Arby's because of a sudden, but very intense, craving for curly fries. My stomach heaved and rolled, and I squirmed and wished I hadn't eaten what I had. I took a bath, and tried to go to sleep. I had no idea it was labor.
Until, well, until it was REALLY, REALLY labor.
By the time I realized it wasn't Arby's, but my body getting ready the have the baby, it was midnight, on Saturday morning. I can't even begin to tell you the feelings of relief and excitement that my body had actually gone into REAL labor, at the RIGHT TIME, ON IT'S OWN!
The feelings were so strong, that I can remember them clearly, sitting here 9 years later. 9 years, and it still makes me cry to remember the relief.
I'm not going to share my entire birth story right now, but I did go on to VBAC. We had an amazing, blonde haired, blue eyed, baby boy on a scorching hot Saturday afternoon in July. That kid changed me, (as did all of my children) and through his birth, God healed so many things in me that were left torn open after my cesarean.
There's no great question to answer in today's post. No important birth topic to cover. Just warm, deep, happy feelings that still touch my soul that all came from this kid, his birth, and our maker.
Tracy Abney is a certified birth and bereavement doula serving Huntsville, Madison and other parts of north Alabama.