Monday, October 19, 2015

The Power of Positive Thinking.

Memory is an interesting thing. I remember being fascinated by it as a young child. On multiple occasions through grade school, and high school, I would sit at my desk and think, "OK. Even though nothing remarkable happened on this day. I am going to remember it. Is it possible? What can I do to never forget this day? The conversations I had? The people I saw? The joy I felt in the small things? What I had for lunch?" As you can see, I remember having these thoughts, but no, I remember nothing about those days. I cannot remember what I ate, who I spoke with nor which activities I participated in, on any single one of those days that I tried so hard to mark in my memory.


The things I do remember, are things I photographed. The things I retold, over and over, turning them into funny stories. The events that I still discuss, rehash and laugh about with friends. I also remember traumatic events, like watching my dog get hit by a car, because my brain brings it back up, I talk about it, I think about it. Imagine, if all I talked about, photographed and discussed with friends and family were the negative things in my life. What do you think I would remember then? How do you think I would perceive my life?


I know there is this constant talk about our "social media" lives versus our "real" lives. How this "humble bragging", "happy all the time", "always picture perfect" posting is impacting others and making them feel guilty, inadequate, and not as successful at life than their peers. When, in reality, we are all {for the most part} going through the exact same thing. I would like to dispute this argument. I believe negative, or even constant "real" posts, would only make matters worse. It's one thing to vent about a poor experience, and another to ruminate on it. We all have those friends, the ones who bring us down, who we feel like they must be depressed because of their constant posts: no sleep, kids sick, I'm sick, traffic, work, drama, hospital, doctor, vet, car problems, plumbing problems, no time, tired. I see this and can't help but wonder: is this how they view their life? It's such hard work. It's so heavy. When they remember things, this is what they will remember, because THIS is what they talked about, all the time. To friends. To family. To their SELF.


For me, positive thinking is now second nature. I don't believe I was born like this. I had an incredible swim coach during my formative years, who trained us to think positive. I have parents who reinforced it. I've surrounded myself by people who bring me up, and join in my happiness. I have a hard time even creating negative thoughts, posts or memories, because I simply don't see negativity anymore. Sure, I see hurdles, I see difficult moments, I see poop and pee and temper tantrums and anxiety and lack of sleep and sometimes I even write about them, but then I see over-coming these trials, and view it as a time to celebrate. At the end of it, I remember surviving (or I don't remember it at all) because, that was my focus.


I just think we all get so consumed with everyone else. With external circumstances. With the feeling "poor me", "why me". We forget, the power of positive thinking. So, next time you have a bad experience, wait to tell about it when you can be proactive, maybe resolve it, and be encouraged by the result, instead of depressed about the journey. And, gosh darn it, next time you want to "humble brag" on Facebook or Instagram, do it. That way, when you decide to take a trip down memory lane, scroll through your own feed, see your "TimeHop" memories, the content that will be thrust in your face will be an awesome life, full of happiness and beauty. Which is exactly what life is. Or can be.

    
As a concrete, personal example, I performed the art of positive thinking just last night. Matt has been in New York for 3 days, and being single mother to 5 under the age of 7 is inherently difficult, stressful and exhausting without any added mishaps. Being a perfect fall weekend, by Sunday night, the boys were utterly, and completely filthy, with face paint and all. Every inch of every single one of them was covered in dirt. My mother offered to make dinner for us, and we tried to eat by 6:00 so I would have time to get them home and clean and ready for school the following day. By the time we finished with the meal I was done. I really couldn't stomach the idea of bathing all 4 of them while trying to care for the infant. So my mom suggested we throw them in the tub at her place and just send them home in some t-shirts.
     Well, the same wonderful reason they were filthy is the same reason they were EXHAUSTED! Bath time turned into kick, splash, hit, throw a fit and cry time. (In all honesty, I laughed through most of it, which probably upset the kids more, as I was not validating their emotions, but it was RIDICULOUS). My brother, home from school for the weekend, sat downstairs, listening to the disaster, wondering all the while who might survive this whole bathing ordeal. They all did, they made it. As I collected their belongings and packed up to leave, my mother dressed them. I walked down the stairs to find them all surrounding her, like 4 baby birds, being fed fruit snacks. That is the image I captured. It's the image I posted about. It was my favorite moment of the day. Had I not just written this little ditty, the joy I felt seeing my four, clean boys, surrounding my mother is all I would have remembered. This bath time calamity would have been completely forgotten, and viewed only as a fun, positive experience.




Only you have the power to mold your memories and therefore, your life. You can choose, on this day, to remember it as a happy one. And one day at a time, you will be creating your happy life. A life that is real, that exists, that is by no means "fake". Just because of a bit of positive thinking {and posting, and story-telling}.

Friday, October 16, 2015

3 months closer.

I refuse to believe that she is growing up. That she is grabbing the blanket and pulling it up to her mouth to nibble on. That she is laughing. Full on, belly laughing. Yesterday, I attempted to put her hair in pigtails. It was a complete failure, so I laughed. I showed her to Matt, he laughed. And as I turned away laughing at Matt laughing, she laughed with us! She thought the pigtails were hilarious too. Which brings me to another thing I refuse to believe, that her hair has grown enough for me to even attempt using rubber bands. I refuse to believe that one week from today she will be 3 months.

She is approaching that age where it's becoming less and less impressive that she sleep 8-11 hours every night. She is watching, tracking, absorbing the behavior of her brothers. She does not like to face inward, she wants to look out, and gaze upon the action. Frequently, in a scornful fashion. I can already see her thinking, "why must I be surrounded by these ridiculous, silly boys?" That or she fears for her life if not always observing her surroundings.

I want her to remain a sweet smelling newborn. Fresh. Tiny. Wistfully sleeping the days away. The little way she finds such relief in nursing, that almost appears like panic at first. How she sleeps with her hands above her head or grasped below her cheek. She taunts us with her perfection.

Everyday, she becomes more childlike and less newborn-ish. She is slowly developing opinions, likes, dislikes.

I love nothing more than a newborn.
Written on 8-10-15. | Diana, Age 3 months.


The Wild Stallion

I've finally come up with the perfect analogy for having children.

No kids. This is the wild stallion. Running free on the plains. Not a care in the world. Bound by nothing.

One kid. The once free stallion has been captured. He has been left out to pasture though. Free to roam, but with in certain boundaries.

Two kids. The stallion has been moved into a stall. He is still left alone, and let out to roam every so often, but his freedom has become so limited.

Three kids. The stallion is now in the stall all the time. He is only out when being led by a person. The term 'free' has left his vocabulary completely. One could almost say, he has been broken.

Four kids. The stallion now gets outfitted with a saddle. He cannot go anywhere without being chained by someone or something.

Five kids. He is ridden. Led everywhere. Even when the stall door is opened, he doesn't care to go out and run free. He is simply too tired.

Six kids. No one has six kids. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Final Straw

Matt has been in China for 8 days now. This means, I am left with 4.5 days to go as single mom to 5 kids under age 7. There have been some highs. There have been lots and lots, well, and lots of lows...but mostly it's just been 8 days of extremely, painful in the chest, palpitations, nausea provoking anxiety. Every single one of my minutes, of every single day is occupied. By somebody else, and then some. Between work, school, sports, feedings, laundry, dishes, meetings, broken bones, rotton teeth, poop, pee, baths, beds, books, toys, walks, dogs, cats, finger nails (120 of them to be exact), I have literally no time to even think my own thoughts. 
 
It is all I can do to keep my head above water. In all of my life (and I've done some pretty difficult things, like Med School, Residency, Division I Swimming, etc) the ONLY THING that has even come close to comparing to the brokenness I currently feel, was Christmas training camp at IU. Specifically, my Sophomore and Junior years. Even still, the exhaustion, beat down, and pain that I felt then was 90% physical. What I am experiencing now is 90% mental/emotional. Simply put: MY BRAIN HURTS. I think some people describe this as a headache (not something I routinely experience.) Maybe it's a tumor. You know that popular saying, right now? "I just can't." Well. I can't. 

I. just. CAN. NOT. 

I had been mentally preparing myself (and my family, and friends, and nanny) for the fact that Matt was flying halfway across the world - or is China ALL the way across the world? - for a few weeks prior to his departure. This extensive, good intentioned, but seemingly (at the time) over the top preparation helped me get through, exactly, the first 2.5 days. Then, it happened. I can remember the exact moment that the "I CAN" attitude got squelched. It was like a birthday candle being doused with 2 gallons of water. So over the top. So unnecessary. No. I am not talking about having to find time to repair Brock's broken arm. I am not referencing his dentist appointment. Nor the back to school night that went an hour too long. Nor the changes in work schedule. It was on night 3, when I found out that Brock had been selected to be, THE FIRST, "Student of the Week" in his First Grade class. 

Translation: Oh, you are home? Alone with 5 kids? Taking care of all of their needs, while working full time and trying to keep rodents from taking over your filthy, disgusting, neglected house because your children insist on crumbling crackers and cereal while they eat it walking through the house, and stripping down thereby leaving dirty clothes throughout the house, and the dog pissed the floor again, and your mental health is hanging on by the thinnest of all that is hardly visible thread? Well then, let me hand you our BIGGEST project of the year. You know. That one that is "all about the kid". The one that needs pictures printed. Paper cut and colored. The one that requires you (the most impatient human to ever exist, who has never spent more than 30 seconds on her own homework in her whole life) to try and get your child to sit and write (his least favorite thing EVER, by the way) and think about the things he "loves" while his 3-4 other siblings run a muck. Crying. Laughing. Watching movies. Playing. 

This assignment rocked me to my core, I couldn't even cry OR laugh about it. I simply switched into survival mode...and that is where I have remained. I tried to look at the silver-lining. It will be done. He's the first, therefore NO expectations. I get it. He's the new kid in the class, it's his chance to tell his new classmates all about himself. It all makes sense, but, fuck. The timing is so bad. I told myself, it's ok, technology is extremely advanced. I will simply choose some pictures on my phone, load them online and pick them up from Crick Camera. My favorite locally owned camera shop. An hour and 3 failed attempts later, I gave up on Crick. Screw it. I will just stop in CVS with my USB cord and print some from my phone. Fast forward 4 days later (the day before it's due) and I, to the shock of no one, have not had one second to stop in CVS. I call my mom, asking if I can drop the kids and run in the store for 15 minutes to print photos. 

ONE HOUR LATER, I have prints in hand. One hour. An hour I simply did NOT have to offer. If I was going to get an hour, free of children, it should have been to work out. You know. Release some endorphins. Or eat a decent meal, not another meal of hot dogs and potato chips. Or get a pedicure. Or sit and have my own thoughts again for a minute. This particular Kodak Kiosk, would not recognize my device. I needed to download the App. But apparently my App store had disappeared. I thought the App Store app couldn't be deleted!!?? Those kids have managed to find yet, another way to ruin my life. I can't even go to the App Store to find and download another App Store. I had 3 other iPhone users completely stumped. Gone. 20 minutes later, thanks to Google, I found it. Matt had turned off my "in-App" purchasing, thereby, "hiding" the App store all together. I had to call him in China (1am his time) to find out the random password he decided to use, instead of the usual 4-digit codes each of us have used all of our lives. The Kiosk then shut down. Just decided, you know what, I don't feel like functioning properly. I feel your day has not yet had enough obstacles. It had to be rebooted. This takes 8 minutes. Never, in my life, have I ever cussed to random people. (Not AT. But TO.) That streak ended today.

I'm really not sure I can handle anything else. The simplest requests feel like 135 pound weights on my chest. I used my precious child nap time to help Brock compile all the components of his board. Laundry which should have been folded (or, who are we kidding, at least sorted) remains untouched. Unwashed even. The mice are probably having a party with all the unvacuumed crumbs. My sanity has been chipped away at, yet again. But, the project is complete. It's ready to hand in on Monday. He might not have a uniform to wear, but his (my) homework is finished. 

That is, until Wednesday, when the PARENT'S are assigned to write a note. At least this time, it is appropriately titled. I mean, let's be honest. This entire project, along with almost all of grade school, is really just parent homework, right? I don't really know this for sure. Brock is my oldest, so I am just now experiencing this whole "school thing" from the other side. I don't remember doing homework, at all. I definitely don't remember my mom helping me with it. And now, I am a doctor. So, maybe I just leave them be? 

Who knows. What I do know, is:

Four. More. Days.

I. can. not.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why having FOUR older brothers is THE WORST.

They drag you to the pool. The freezing cold pool. They run around, laughing, shooting water guns, and eventually, they splash you in the face. Why must they be so wreckless?

When your mother wants a family picture, you fear for your life. Every. Single. Time.


Your "pretty boy" brother wears pigtails better than you do. Not right.


No. Just no.


As if tummy time was not bad enough, you rarely make it 5 minutes without getting hugged, kissed, stepped on or kicked. 
Can they not just leave me be!?


You rarely fall asleep and wake up in the same condition. And their accessories simply do not go with the outfit.


They insist that power tools are fun. Please.



You can't even enjoy your brand new, adorable chair, in your newly finished nursery, without, again, fearing for your life.

They seem incapable of understanding the concept of personal space.





They have even convinced your parents that tractors are fun. You have GOT to be kidding me!!!
They are always hogging the iPad. And playing really dumb boy games at that.

I repeat. No. Personal. Space.

Always wondering if you will survive. Just curious. Will I make it another minute? Why are they all surrounding me?
Nothing, not even your adorable girly accessories are safe from boy cooties.

Do you see this!?

Mom, please, please get me out of this madness. What are they even doing? Why do they think that is fun?

Dirty, grimy fingers. In the mouth. In the eyes. In the ears. Eww. Just eww!!!

They just don't get it. I am crying BECAUSE of you. Please don't try to cheer me up. Ugh, boys.

They insist on filling my crib, when I'm only a few days old...have they not heard of SIDS? No stuffed animals in the baby's bed!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Daylight {for days?}

I think the boys' internal clocks have finally switched into 'Summer mode'. Their once easy and succinct 8pm bedtime has slowly become 9pm. Blame the daylight. Blame the "sleeping in" {ha!! yeah right} because of no school. Blame the heat of the 3rd floor (and that short 2 week stint of a broken AC). Blame moving a 4th boy upstairs (even though he's still in bed by 8pm). Blame whatever you want...but it's time to succumb, or better yet, embrace it.

We fought the new bedtime for a while. A couple weeks even. Refusing to believe the 8pm reprieve from child craziness had truly left us. We even tried herding the boys upstairs much earlier than 8 o'clock in an attempt to get them into "bedtime mode" sooner. All our efforts did, was turn a usually 15 minute bedtime routine into a 1.5 hour long routine!

It was making me grumpy. It was making Matt grumpy. We were getting irritated at the kids for repeatedly coming downstairs asking for a drink, to pee, a hug, a kiss, a snack, another book. We were yelling, threatening punishment. Instead of having an extra hour of time to relax, we had added an hour of all out war (I'm exaggerating quite a bit here...but that feeling in your chest when you hear little pitter patter of feet coming down the stairs 25 minutes after you thought they were in bed!? Well, it's anger. And I sincerely dislike feeling anger toward anyone, especially my children.)

Until it dawned on me. Why not embrace it? Why not use that extra hour to play, sing, hang out with our little guys? So, it's taken us 3 months to get through half a season of OITNB. So, I rarely get to enjoy an entire glass of wine. So, I never get to blog anymore. I'm enjoying my children and snuggling my teeny, growing way too fast, baby. This last week has been great! 

Last night, we stayed up late enough to play with sparklers in the dark. Everyone had a blast. I spent most of that time nursing Diana and getting her settled in for the night. Mitch spent most of that time clinging to his father's leg in terror at the fireworks. The rest of us were in hog heaven. The boys might remember that night as fun, magical, special, different. 

An added perk? The bedtime routine is back down to 15 minutes, and relatively stress free. Instead of 4-7 irritated individuals, we have 5-7 happy ones! (Obviously, with that many humans in one house, someone is bound to still be grumpy).

Parenting, child-rearing; it's constantly changing. Moods change. There is so much growing, learning, maturing going on in our house at all times. The animals that survive are the ones that adapt. The same goes for parents. If you don't change, adjust, mold and accept things, parenting will kill you. 

I'm so glad I figured ALL of this out, just in time for the schedule to change again in 2 weeks. School time!!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stink Face

George was the first one up this morning. He walked in our room, I checked his diaper, as sometimes it's overflowing, requiring immediate attention. This morning? It was so so. Could be changed, but could withstand another urination if required. I stayed in bed. Eventually, Matt got up, showered, dressed, and left for work. I assumed he had attended to George's needs at some point in that process. You know what they say about the word "assume". By this point, all the brothers were up and at 'em. Well, except for Mitch. I'd heard a few noises over the monitor, but none that lead me to believe he wanted out of the crib as of yet. I nursed the baby. I found Brock and Curtis engrossed in a cartoon on the iPad. I didn't not find George. "Boys, where is George?" Two shoulder shrugs.
 I started off just listening. Listening at the top of the stairs, into the kitchen, living room and dining room areas - silence. Then I listened at the bottom of the 3rd floor stairs into the bedrooms and bathroom - silence. It has always been a somewhat silent fear of mine that a child would decide to go out the door and go "exploring" in the wee hours of the morning, without Matt or I hearing or knowing, so a bit of panic started to well up in my chest. But there were still LOTS of options as to where he could be, so I'll keep my wits about me for the moment.

"George? George!? Where are you?" No answer. I keep calling him, as I begin a much more thorough and detailed search. I actually go downstairs and walk through all the rooms. Then upstairs. Then the 3rd floor. No sight of George. I finally give in, and disturb Mitch by going into the nursery to check. No George.

Panic increases, I pick up the pace and the volume. "GEORGE!!! Where are you!!?? Get out here now! George??" I am now opening every closet. Looking through clothes, under blankets, in hampers, behind curtains. No George. Damnit. If a kid ever were to wander off, it WOULD be George. I am still calling his name while heading back into my room to find my phone in order to ask Matt when he left. I needed to know the exact last time the child had been spotted for my "Amber Alert" phone call to the police. As well as what he was wearing, in case Matt had changed his pajamas.

In my heart, I am sure he is somewhere in the house, but seriously, I had looked everywhere, and by now, it's been at the very least 10 minutes, but probably closer to 15. Hell, maybe even 20. I had been in and out of every room AT LEAST 3 times. Just as I get ready to turn into my room, I hear some pitter patters behind me, I turn to look, "SURPRISE!!!!" George has bounded into the hallway, completely and utterly naked, with the largest, most satisfied with himself smile he has ever mustered up, repeating, "I skeerd mommy." He is now doing some kind of jig as I just look at him. He could not contain his pride, so proud, so very very proud of his accomplishment. I just watch for a moment, completely unsure of my current emotional state. Was I mad? Relieved? Amused. Ugh, I was definitely amused. I had to hold back a smile, and try to act serious as I tried to explain to him why his {actually very funny and impressive prank} is not so funny as he is only 3 and should NEVER disappear from mommy for extended periods of time. He told me sorry, in an obviously non-remorseful way. We hugged. I got him dressed. We continued with the morning as if nothing happened. I, of course, called the grandmothers, Matt, and Leah to tell them of his shenanigans. Nothing like starting off the day with a laugh and a heart attack.

This is George.

I missed writing about him for his 3rd birthday. I've missed writing about a lot. But, this one story captures so much that is this hilarious, hard-headed, independent little boy. As my sister said, "I guess this is what you get when you combine Matt's love of a good prank and your (my) persistence." A three-year-old, willing to hide, naked, in a small box that is normally home to all the stuffed animals in the nursery, for no less than 15 minutes, without making a peep. Not a sound. To this day, I find myself wondering and curious as to what was going through that little brain while he heard me calling for him. Frantically searching the house, coming within inches of finding him.


Since that time. George has also taken it upon himself to walk around the block. Alone. (Causing a woman to abandon her running car, in the middle of the street to go escort him home.) He has forced us to lock the "candy cabinet" as well as the pantry door. He has forced me to store all cups, or toys, or items that could potentially store liquids up as high as possible. He has sampled nearly every pill and chemical that is within reach. If something can make a mess, and there is not an adult in sight, he will find this item, and make that mess. He is potty-trained, in that he knows when he has to pee or poop, he can hold it, and he can use the toilet independently. He is not potty-trained, in that he only chooses to use this skill about 50% of the time. He likes to get dressed on his own, and almost never gets the clothing on right. He will eventually stop putting his pants back on, usually by about noon.

The inability to take anything seriously appears to be extremely exhausting, as the child still naps almost 3 hours (sometimes nearly 4) everyday. In fact, his most common "disappearing act" is to find ZeeZee and just walk all the way up to the 3rd floor and put himself to bed. As much as he likes to get into shit, he doesn't when he naps. He simply sleeps, wakes up, comes directly back down the stairs, finds us and says, " I had good nap?". I know, buddy. I know you did.

His favorite song is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". But it's more like, "Qwinkle, qwinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the so high world, like a hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm, qwinkle, qwinkle little star." His heart swells with joy when he gets some mom time. Or Mimi time. Or Magra time. Or, well, time with just about anyone without his big brothers. Most of the day, he hides his sensitivity behind his comedic act, but I see it in there. He is a very sweet, sensitive and extremely lovable little boy. He is not overly aggressive. He rarely, if ever hits. He has been known to bite a time or two. He loves, loves, loves, "baby seester, Di-eena". He's never met a stranger. He loves an audience.

Of all my children, I find him the hardest to fully understand and predict. He will have the same teacher as his previous two brothers, and when she asked about his personality, I didn't know what to say. I have no idea how he will behave in a school setting. A little piece of him loves to please, to follow the rules, to be praised. But another, slightly larger piece, loves to push limits, find boundaries, create new borders, stand out, and be himself. If I can find the patience to let him, George will be an artist of some sort, some day. He has a huge head, with a huge brain. His intelligence is NOT in question, but I sincerely believe him to be right-brained. Or maybe he's just ADHD. Time will tell. He is my 3rd child to become a 3-year-old, yet my first to make me aware of it. I am looking forward to the fours with this one. He went from talking like a caveman to talking non-stop, so I don't see how 4's could get any worse (as my least favorite part of a 4-year-old is the questions!!!)

As I write this, I cannot say I am surprised. This child made us laugh from day one. That 7 month photo-shoot where he publicly debuted his "stink face" serves as a pivotal moment in his comedic career. Life without George? Seems it would be so dull, so stereotypical. His interesting, aggravating, insanely frustrating, hilarious, lovable, sweet personality makes our family just that much better. He is not our biggest. Hovers at 50-75th percentile in everything. He is not our most beautiful (sorry, am I allowed to say that!?) He is not our oldest or youngest. He is rarely the on-looker's favorite. He is smack-dab in the middle. Yet, I think, he stands out the most. And always will.
I may not fully understand what is going on behind those giant, beautiful blue eyes of his, but I love him more than anything. I hope I can foster, and support, and not squelch that fire in him to be unique, while still keeping him safe, polite and grounded. Happiest of happy 3rd years, George Edward.

In the meantime, does anyone know how much a human GPS device costs? Should I just go ahead and get him micro-chipped? Oh, GeoGeo.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Love Instagram...

...for my own use.

You should too.

I'll be real honest here. When I click on my Instagram icon on my phone, I almost always go immediately to my "home page". Here, I see all of my tiny square thumbnails. These thumbnails display, in the palm of my hand, everything I love in life. I see my life. My loves. My joys. Things I found ironic, amusing, adorable, funny. I'm so, ridiculously proud of my Instagram feed.
This is not a humble brag. I so so so sincerely, hope that everyone feels this way. About their own "home page". Without ever knowing it, I have lived by the quote, "Every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday." Instagram proves this. For me at least. I encounter, at the very, very, bare minimum, least one beautiful thing a day. I try to limit my postings. I don't want to be annoying to my "Followers". Yet, I love and want to remember a lot of things in my life.

I "like" others' photos, because they too, are creating a beautiful portfolio of their life. A portfolio that is organized. If someone asks to see a picture of my son, instead of sifting through my thousands of phone photos, I can pull up his specific #hashtag. If I need to find a picture of my whole family, I have a hastag for that too. One for my dogs even. A hasthag for reoccurring events. Ones that connect me with others at the same happening...such as a wedding.

Sure. I enjoy the encouraging and complimentary comments. I enjoy the funny ones, too. I like when someone shares a similar story or moment. (And, a little known secret, that I probably shouldn't share, as it reveals a bit too much of my OCD, but, I have been known to "like" my own photo. When, and only when, it has 10, 19, 29, 39, 49, 59, or 69 likes (those higher numbers kind of never happen, but whatevs.) I have no real explanation for this.

Recently, I have tried to not be to connected to my phone. To let events happen and not whip out my phone to photograph them. To try to be more "present". I try not to bring my phone to the table during meals. I try to post to Instagram or Facebook while I really have nothing else to do, or no one else is around. I use the word "try" because I have a lot of room to improve in this realm, but have not fully decided that it's what I want. I so love my daily postings. I just don't want to do without. It's very difficult, finding a nice balance in this world filled with such beauty, and the easy access of social media.

For now, I will continue to post 1-6 times a day. These photographs are mine. They are for me. I love them all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Temporary Tattoo.

Curtis wanted a tattoo. Three. Days. Ago.
We have this little booklet full of them. Hundreds. Matt put on a few. George had on a couple. I think even Mitch and Brock had a tattoo. In fact, Curtis might have had one, but he wanted another. Seems simple enough? Just tear out the tattoo, get the wet paper towel, and hold it on there for about 30 seconds. The whole process takes about 1 minute, maybe two, depending on the location in the booklet of the selected tattoo. Which was a red sports car, in this particular situation. Not surprising, for our little, charismatic lady's man. I fully intended to get him his tattoo. Every single time he asked, I happily (well, more likely exasperatedly) said, "Yes, Curtis, let's get you a tattoo, but after...

...I finish feeding the baby."

...I clean up the dog puke."

...I finish fixing lunch (or dinner, or breakfast, or getting snack.)"

...I change Mitch's poopie diaper."

...I change Diana's diaper."

...I change George's clothes because he wet his pants. (And clean the carpet or floor or chair or wherever he was.)"

...I help George on the potty."

...I wipe George's butt."

... we got to the pool."

...we go to the park."

...I put in this load of laundry."

...I get dressed."

...I let the dogs out."

...feed Diana again."

...we go out to dinner."

...we go on a Spirit Walk."

...I find George."

...I do the dishes."

...I eat something. For the first time today. At 3:30pm."

...I finish monitoring the picking up of toys."

...after you clean up your room."

...after bathtime."

Before I knew it, it had been 3 days.  THREE DAYS that I had been putting off applying that temporary tattoo. With a newborn and 4 other, hardly self-sufficient and highly destructive individuals, a fun, cute, little tattoo falls really low on the totem pole. This realization was devastating. For so many reasons.

Mostly my heart breaks for Curtis. He wanted such a simple, fun, harmless thing that I would have been more than happy to provide for him, and he had to wait. He waited, and waited. This sweet boy will wait forever. He will move on and continue to be happy, despite having not gotten his red sports car. As a middle child, with 3 younger siblings and 1 older, this will be a pattern in his life. He will frequently have to put off his wants, desires and needs for the others, when theirs usurps his. An he will, because he is a peacemaker. He likes to be surrounded by happiness. Had this been Brock, I would not have heard the end of it until he got that tattoo. He has insane, awful, unforgiving persistence (and obsessions.) I would have caved, moved it up the list. Had it been George asking, he would have just "put the tattoo on himself". I put this in quotes, because what would really happen is that I would find George on the counter, or in the kitchen sink with all the pages of the booklet torn out, as well as multiple tattoos all over the counter sink, and in the garbage disposal, and probably a few tat's on his belly, arm and maybe even face. If Curtis were in a 1 or 2 child home, probably even 3, he would have gotten that tattoo within the hour. Or four. At the very least, before the next mealtime. Which leads me to another of those devastating thoughts...

...do we have too many kids? I can't even give him a little tattoo, for goodness sake. At what point does the "large family" experience become a negative one. He will gain so much from his huge family. He has built in play dates, friends, support. He will never be alone. But, he will NEVER be alone. For a long time, he will share everything, including my time, abilities and attention. True, we have a newborn, and those are time-suckers. Very soon, a lot of my little spare minutes will free up again. We will get a fence so I can just let the dogs out, instead of walk them. Slowly, everyone is getting better about dressing themselves, Curtis can almost wipe his own bottom, George can almost potty on his own, Brock can serve his own drinks as well as some foods. Every passing day, more and more minutes free up (and then there are those days that take them all back.) Eventually, all the minutes will be mine again. At which point, I will probably say, "I should have had more kids".
Lastly, who says my priorities are right!? That tattoo was probably more important than quite a few things I listed. Sometimes I just forget to remember the little things. I'll try to do better tomorrow. And everyday. Tattoo's for all!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Perfection.

Diana,

I am going to be honest. You weren't supposed to be so wonderful, and perfect, and beautiful, and {dare I say it??} easy. I needed you to do something that would make me not want to EVER even CONSIDER having another child, whatsoever. You tried during the pregnancy. I think I was in "early labor" for 4-5 days. Having managed and delivered a lot of obstetric patients myself, I could never understand why a woman would come into triage day after day, insisting she was contracting, in labor, in pain and extremely uncomfortable when she really "wasn't" (no cervical change).  Now I know. And had I not been trained in the medical field, with lots of obstetrical experience both as a doctor and a patient, I would have been one of those women. It was rough. Stand up - contraction. Sit down - contraction. Roll to my side - contraction. Think about contractions - contraction. I could hardly stand for more than 3 minutes at a time. I could hardly sit for more than 10 minutes at a time. Sleep? Hahahahahaha.  You did your darnedest to make those last few weeks so awful, that the thought of ever doing it again was pretty much gone.

Then, I went to see my doctor on Mother's day (11 days early) around noon, maybe 1pm. I was already dilated to a 3cm, which has never, ever happened before being in "actual labor". My OB was certain, that with a 5th child, and how my previous deliveries have gone, that I would simply go from a 4 to 10 in no time. So, to the hospital I went, due to "spontaneous rupture of membranes" (my water "broke"). Then we waited. And waited. And waited. The contractions never got closer than 10 minutes, and never got painful enough. We started the pitocin a bit before 4pm. They quickly became frequent, but still not strong. By 6pm, maybe 7pm, I finally had a few contractions that made me willing to get that dreaded epidural. I've really never had a bad experience with the epidural, in fact, they always work sooo well, that the actual epidural is the most uncomfortable part of labor and delivery for me. This epidural was no different. Before I got this epidural, I was still 4 cm. No progress. I was freaking out...you're heart rate was dropping with each contraction (likely due to the cord around your neck) but this makes nurses uncomfortable, and unwilling to turn up pitocin. I texted my OB these concerns: that I will not progress because the contractions aren't strong enough and no one will turn up the pit. Her response? "It's typical of 3rd or more babies...I think she will be here soon...4 to complete then BAM!!" The plan was to let me rest with the epidural for a few hours and check again at 9:30pm. In the interim, my mom and sister showed up to visit. I didn't mind their presence, but was annoyed that I'd be having a baby at 4am and felt they had really jumped the gun in arriving. I was sure they'd now have to be here all night.

By 8:00pm or so, I kicked them out of the room to take a little nap...which I did. Sort of. I very soon began to feel slightly nauseous. And a bit after 9pm, I was awoken by a REALLY strong contraction, that actually hurt through the epidural. I looked at the moniter, and you did NOT like that contraction either. Your heart rate was in the 60's. Crap. No one is going to like that. They are going to turn off the pitocin. I am going to stall in labor. Oh my gosh. We are headed to c-section town. Sure enough, 2 nurses, and THE DOCTOR (never a good sign) come "calmly" walking in...I was already trying to turn myself to make baby "happier". I start to again voice my concerns to my OB, and she says, "Oh, you're probably just complete and baby dropped really fast." I laughed. Yeah right. I have never progressed that fast.
DIANA BEDE O'LAUGHLIN
MAY 10TH, 2015 at 10:02PM
8LBS 5OZ AND 21IN 

Sure enough, she checks and asks if I want to start pushing. What!? Call the grandparents. Get Leah in here (she was going to hang out for the birth). I was stunned. Simply stunned. And not really ready to push. And anxious to meet my baby, but in disbelief it was really happening. Before I knew it, I was pushing, you were coming out, and I almost lost consciousness! I totally missed the delivery, next thing I knew, you were all purple, and floppy and on my chest, and adorable, and looked momentarily, just like Mitch.  You were not the rigorous, flailing, strong newborn I was accustomed to, I was trying to rub and stimulate you to cry a bit and "tone up". You had lots of fluid (bloody) coming out of your nose...so I suggested suctioning. No one heard (or maybe just ignored me.) I said it again, trying to give you to the baby nurse, but they like to give baby immediate tummy time (which I LOVE, but not when I can tell it needs some fluid taken out of the lungs/belly). Finally, it was probably 90 seconds, they took over and continued to try to stimulate you...from afar, all I see is George in your little features and huge cheeks. And then they suctioned a good amount of fluid. You pinked up, toned up, cried a bit and came back to mommy more than happy to begin nursing {and never stop}. And now, you remind me exactly of Curtis.

My recovery with you was by far the easiest. You were only 8lbs 5 oz, in contrast to your brother George who was 10lbs 7oz!! I have been up, walking, playing with your brothers, continuing to try to organize the house and various other things since our release from Shawnee Mission Med Center. Our little stay in the hospital felt like a mini-vacation, with all of our favorite people visiting, in and out of our little room. You sleep like a champ. Better than any of your brothers, and Curtis gave you some stiff competition. Honestly, I am still in disbelief. I am finishing up the final edits here at 5 weeks, and despite my being sure "the ball will drop" so to speak, and you will become fussy and inconsolable, it hasn't. I take a picture of you almost every morning. Your beauty and perfection, and calm newborness, is irresistibly wonderful. The way you breath, take comfort in my voice, smell, and warmth fills my heart to a breaking point. To say my cup spilleth over is a gross underestimation. My cup is a fountain, or waterfall even. You smile, you have been since about 3 weeks, and as Matt put it, you have "happy eyes". You are so patient, and happy, and maybe the sweetest little babe that has ever existed in all of time. Simply, THE BEST, Mother's day gift I have ever, and will ever, receive. If you are my last, thank you for ending my reproduction career on such a high note. Thank you for earning all the doting that you will surely receive for the rest of your life, baby girl, Di-eena.

Welcome to this crazy home, to your many brothers, and to this incredible thing called life. We hope you enjoy it all.

With the greatest of all love,
Mom


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

So many LITTLE things make me one BIG happy.

I am not just referencing my so many, little children. But they are a big source.

Our Zoo plans with friends got cancelled by this obnoxious rain, but we still hung out, had coffee, and our kids got to play. I will drop almost anything when I am home to hang out with friends, and their kids. Getting texts, emails, calls, seeing their photos on Facebook and Instagram and staying in touch daily with these people that I have chosen to stay in touch with, because they enhance my life in some way, makes me really happy. Happy to have them, and happy they choose to have me.

I feel like I am in a coffee shop, sitting in my own dining room. The rain is helping the 3 little ones soundly nap, and the two older ones are engrossed with a Netflix cartoon on the iPad. I've brewed a fresh pot of coffee, and have lots of food options, as I have gone to the grocery store and Costco very recently.  Coffee. Blogging. Calm and sleeping kids. Not only a fully stocked kitchen, but the fact that I have the ability to have a fully stocked kitchen, ALL make me so very happy.

Getting prepared to travel to Michigan with my mom and daughter, on a girls trip, to reunite with a lot of my girlfriends, to witness one of my best friends get married, makes me happy. Happy because I know I am leaving all my boys with their dad, and no one is better suited to take care of them alone (except maybe me. Or Kerry.) Happy, because I love the people I will be with for the entire drive and weekend. Happy, because I know my family at home in KC will be hanging with my boys as well.

Getting my nails done. All twenty of them. While Diana snoozed along side me. Makes me feel refreshed, put together, and beautiful. This makes me happy.

The boys filled Mitch's bed with all his toys and stuffed animals this morning to make him happy. In turn, I am happy.

The basement flooded from this stupid rain, and Diana was starving, and the dogs had to be let out, yet I was down there picking up ruined boxes. I think all my childhood artwork is now officially the "trash" it might very well have been already...but I came upstairs to find 3 boys still sitting at the table, happily eating their lunch. A safe and warm, albeit starved little baby. A snoozing toddler. A caring husband who called to check in on the status here, so despite my 20 minute moment of anger/frustration/sadness, I am totally over it. Instantly, I am happy.

The boys give their baby sister a kiss every morning. And afternoon. And throughout the day.

I have a job I love. People think my 4 week maternity leave is short, but I don't. I want to get back to my patients, partners, co-workers. I want to stay home too. And I can do both. I feel very balanced. I have a trustworthy and able nanny. I have a huge family support system. It all works out, and for this, I am thankful, and, well, it makes me happy.

Matt, Diana and I went to dinner last night. We got to talk (while consoling a baby) and enjoy a good meal, served directly to us. No clean up afterward.

We drove to Hays, KS with little incident. The boys stayed in a hotel. Now they point out every hotel they see. They loved a simple weekend away, in a simple town, in a simple hotel. I don't think I need to say it, but happy boys, means happy mom.

The rain has forced me to stay in and do my laundry. FINALLY.

I could fit into a lot of my "regular clothing" at 2 weeks postpartum.

I have a wonderful house, in an even more wonderful neighborhood.

Perhaps, I will add to this list, as I think of it. But I'm pretty happy with it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Oh, little one.


 
I go to bed almost fully dressed. Because I am tired and the little one sleeps. She might wake up in 15 minutes. She might wake up in 2 hours. She will likely do this a few times, giving me plenty of opportunity to brush my teeth, slip into PJs and "settle in" for bed later tonight. She is only 72 hours old. So very little.


My normally too long to count "to do list" has vanished. My routines, gone. My expectations for the day, a mere memory. With such an amazing, needy, tender, lovable new little one, all that's needed is now. I could literally sit, with her on my chest all day, and listen to those tiny breaths from her tiny nose, frequently interrupted by those tiny squeaks. She is really squeaky, Matt thinks she swallowed a dog's chew toy. As I feed her, I don't even notice right away, but her miniature yet so long and slender fingers have wrapped around mine. We are holding hands.
I have no plans for tomorrow. I accomplished nothing today. And I'm fine with it. I wish all of life could feel this way. Seems so simple. But only for such a brief time am I allowed to do nothing but love and care for my sweet, new, little one. Soon, I will have to begin coaching her on the ways of life. She will want more than to quietly gaze into my eyes. I will need to get back to caring for those other 4, much older, and probably, in a lot of ways, much needier humans that I also call my children. 

I try to recapture this amazing feeling in words. In photos. But, as it did with the four prior, the feeling will eventually slip away. I will remember that I love newborns. That seeing her awake, asleep, peaceful, crying, hungry, full, and every other emotion or state of a brand new little one can be enough to set off tears. Tears of absolute amazement. Joy. Tenderness. Sadness at the moments passing too quickly. And the most painful, swelling, about to burst, simply cannot keep it inside LOVE that you will ever, ever, ever experience.
Oh, little one. You make me the happiest, most complete person. Each, and every time. I love you, Diana.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Don't Blink!

This 5th pregnancy has been different. By different, I don't mean symptom-wise, or because it's a girl, or "how I'm carrying", or due to living in a different house or the fact that I kind of have Gestational Diabetes, but none of us (including my OB) are fully willing to label it as that, because my case is sooooo borderline, easily controlled, and, well, I have giant babies anyway, so who cares. Kind of. It's simply been different.

I know it's been 8 months, and I only have a few weeks before Baby 5.O arrives, but I still cannot believe I am pregnant! How did a baby get in there!? Of course, I know how. I'm a doctor. Duh. But, to have an "unplanned" pregnancy, always leaves you a bit in awe. In shock. Every so often, I look at George and think, you just weaseled your way into this world, didn't ya? (As he was also a surprise. Him, maybe should have known better...5.O? A pharmaceutical company might owe us some money, at least college tuition. Seems fair.)

Anyway, despite the absolute, constant and utter discomfort, my mind cannot fully wrap around the idea that I am to go through labor again. That a baby will be here. That she will be ours. That she will come home and live with our family. I have noticed with each pregnancy, that this dissociation from my condition gets worse. Perhaps I am so busy with the other 4, there is no room to think about the future. I don't obsessively wonder what she will look like. Or worry about her temperament. And I absolutely have ZERO, ziltch, notta, nothing, no nesting tendencies, whatsoever. None. Period. I don't even care to look for the car seat. Her hospital gown and whatever anyone gifts us (washed) will be all she wears for weeks, I think.

I told Matt, the other day, that I didn't think I had complained as much this pregnancy. He laughed. He pointed out that I was ridiculous. And began reciting the few times in the last HOUR that I had already complained. OK, to him, maybe. But to social media, family, friends...I am just tired of complaining. This has been my condition for 4 years in total, and 6 years with some slight breaks. I cry a lot. Brock came up to me and said, "pregnancy must be horrible. You're not yourself. You don't like to do everything anymore. Your back is broken." (Glad my 6 year-old gets it, too bad the 31 year old doesn't.)

I have even tried to be more patient with the strangers that comment. I have learned to not mind most questions. When are you due? Do you know the gender? That's a big baby. You must be ready to go, anyday. The one question I dread though? Is it your first? Ugh. Do I have to answer honestly? I mostly hate to answer because it sounds obnoxious. Every. Single. Time. To go from is it your first, to no, it's my FIFTH. Invariably, this leads to the question of what I have at home? What are their ages? Then some amount of undeserved praise. My personal favorite. "You are a saint." For what? Not murdering one of my own children? For populating an over-populated world? I will never understand that comment. What I really hope, is that the questioning stops there, because if it goes further and they find out I am a Family Physician, then I'm really in for it. I'll be honest, people. Compliments make me sincerely uncomfortable! I truly believe that most of us do what we can with the personality, energy, body, mind and spirit we've been given. This happens to be where my genetics and upbringing lead me. I deserve no compliments. And truly, in full disclosure, I often feel so incredibly self-centered, that compliments just make me feel guilty.

I have spent this entire pregnancy trying to trudge through the symptoms. Move into, organize and keep clean a new house. Take care of 4 children. Build a new medical practice. Love on my new nephew, niece and other friends' babies. I have tried with all my energy to "ignore" my condition. With that mentality, I have suppressed a lot of the wonderment and amazingness that is pregnancy. This very likely could be and is my LAST pregnancy...and I have ignored it. I can't help but smile when I feel the baby moving. I feel complete relief that she is in there growing and healthy. I think, this is the only part of pregnancy I will miss. Feeling a body in there. Knowing I am creating someone. No feeling in the world can match the experience of creating another human from your own body. I'm not saying that it's necessarily the best experience you will ever have, as I think actually rearing the child is better, but the feeling is, simply unmatched. There is nothing else like it.
So, here I sit. In the blink of an eye. Staring down my last few weeks of this pregnancy. And it's just now hit me. It's for real. She is coming. She is here. She needs a name. She is growing, beautifully inside of me. I love her so much. I love that she will get to join our family. I cannot wait to see her brothers with their newest sibling. I love seeing my husband as a new father, he does it so well. I do not take for-granted the blessing, joy, and privilege it is to be such an integral part of this process, her life. Even though it's my 5th, I still see the anticipation and excitement from my family and closest friends. They love her.

So, even though I will probably continue to cry every night, for a multitude of reasons. At least one of those reasons will be due to the overwhelming love and happiness I feel for my future daughter. Right now. Maybe I am a bit late to the ballgame. But I am there. I am in it. And I always will be, your mom.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Nobody Told Me.

I am insanely sick and tired of these posts I regularly see about pregnancy, breast-feeding, birth, and child-rearing with the title and or implication, "nobody told me". Somebody told you. Even Baby Center is pretty darn accurate with their warnings of pregnancy discomforts, breast-feeding difficulties and behavioral issues. It's everywhere. Mother's are talking about them every, single day. We are surrounded with people telling you. I have told you.

The instant that egg implants, you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever feel the same again. Ever. Never ever. Done. Life as you know it. Your body as you know it. All of it, gone. You are now different. From henceforth. You will feel varying degrees of nausea. You may or may not vomit. Daily. Or multiple times a day. There is no "morning sickness", it's all day sickness, or afternoon sickness, or maybe no sickness at all. You may have once loved coffee, or licorice, or celery, or pizza, but now, maybe you don't. Or maybe now you love it so much you could eat it everyday, all day. Maybe you need to eat every 10 minutes to not feel sick, or maybe just a drop of water makes you so queasy you hate to even be in the same room as a sink. Everything smells. And by everything smells, I mean both, pungently and bad. You might lose 10 lbs in 5 weeks or gain 10 lbs in 2. Your breasts will get large and tender. Your clothes will not fit.

At some point, or multiple points, or all throughout, you will be constipated. Then, at some point your sphincter won't work as well as it used to. And by sphincter, I mean all of them. Your anal sphincter, your lower esophageal sphincter, and your urinary sphincter. Poop will come out when you don't want it to, acid will come up when you don't want it to, and you will wet your pants. Some of these problems go away soon after birth. Some of them don't. You will get bloated. With gas. With water. With baby. Laying down may become difficult, or even impossible. Sitting will become uncomfortable. Standing will become uncomfortable. YOU will be uncomfortable. Your back will hurt. Your legs will hurt. Your lady parts will hurt, and swell, and produce different kinds of discharge and who knows what else...I don't look, it scares me. You might develop hemorrhoids, and if you don't, there's a good chance you will during labor and birth.

Your skin, hair and nails will change. In the first trimester, you may become an oily teenager again, and breakout everywhere. Some women get an itchy rash. Some have dark spots develop on their face (sometimes these never go away). Some will get stretch marks, and not just on your stomach. Mine appeared on my behind, thighs and calves. Your hair will eventually fill out, your nails grow strong and beautifully, and just when they are at their best, the baby is born. Breastfeeding may help you hold on to some of these perks for a short time, but inevitably, by 4 months, hair is falling out by the clump.

The hormones will make you emotional. Not just weepy. But tired. And angry. Bitter. Happy. Sad. Confused. Insane. Like literally, mental breakdown, wondering if you should be institutionalized nuts. You will have headaches. Your lips might be dry, your mouth dry. You will be so sick of peeing, and so unsatisfied each time, that you will wish for a permanent catheter. There will be moments of very odd pelvic, uterine and belly pain that you will be certain is very bad...but it's usually gas, or your ligaments stretching from the growing baby, or your bladder rebeling and cramping from the pressure, or just that constipation again, or a Braxton Hicks contraction. Damn, these things are uncomfortable! Or am I in labor. You will always wonder. Am I in labor. Whether you are 20 weeks or 40 weeks, labor is always a concern.

You will feel the baby move, and it will be the most reassuring feeling in the entire world. It will make you smile even amidst one of those horrid cry-fests of self-pity, discomfort, and "I don't know why the f*%# I am crying, but I am and I needed to". It will hurt sometimes, especially if they settle on the ribs or the bladder, but that pain is the best of all. You will wonder what the baby looks like, and hope it gets only your good features, and only your spouses good features. You will contemplate a name. By 35 weeks on, you will obsess. All you can do is think about baby, and wish they were born. Partly because you are dying to meet them, and partly because the pregnancy discomfort is approaching its all time high. Everyday drags. The last 5 weeks of pregnancy are THE LONGEST. You will cry nightly, or daily, at the end. You will become bitter at any comments, but most especially, the "you're still pregnant?" one. You could rip that person's eyes out, and shove them....well, you get it.

You might waddle. You might not be able to bend over. Or squat. Or jump. Or walk. Or fit into your shoes. You will get sick of pulling up your pants and pulling down your shirt. You will develop symptoms I haven't listed, because, well, there are too many symptoms to mention! Restless legs. Vision changes. Taste changes. Sleep changes. How did I forget to directly mention sleep. Your dreams are bizarre. Your sleep restless. In the end, sleep is nearly impossible due to discomfort, indigestion, urination, you name it. Until that baby is born, you will have forgotten what it is like to truly sleep. And even if it is for only an hour and fifteen minutes, sleep after birth is wonderful.

Nobody told you about your labor, because it can go only about one billion different ways. There is no way to truly prepare for labor. You don't know what position your baby will decide to land in, there at the end. You don't know how your cervix will behave. How much pain you can tolerate. How long labor will be. How hard you have to push. Some people hardly make it to the hospital, others push for 4 hours only to end up with a cesarean. You might scream in labor. Poop. Vomit. Shake violently. Give up. Push harder. Get an epidural. Have the baby in a tub. Some babies tolerate labor no problem, and others poop, then choke on it and get whisked to the NICU. But somebody mentioned all of these things at some point. Just like pregnancy, you heard all the symptoms, you just never experienced them yourself, in your exact combination.

Somebody told you that breastfeeding is hard. That your nipples will crack. That the baby might not latch well. That your supply might suck or be so copious it nearly drowns the child at each feeding. Someone told you that you will leak in public, on your bed, in your clothes. That you will feel like nothing but a cow for the first few weeks. Or months. That you will cry. A lot. Like every night. And maybe even more. You were warned that if you strictly breastfed for months, the baby might not take a bottle. I never advertise that I "like" breastfeeding. I don't feel clean, ever. It is so convenient, and healthy, and cheap though. If you bottle feed, you may need to switch multiple formulas, until one settles with baby. Even if you breastfeed you need to eat the right foods. If you're too stressed you won't let down. If you don't drink enough you won't produce enough. If you're gone from baby too long, your breasts will hurt and you will become more and more anxious.

Somebody told you all of these things and more. Don't even get me started on what you have already been told about newborns and their sleep habits, and temperaments, and crying. They make you watch a video in the hospital about babies crying and how to deal with it (not by shaking them). It's what they do. Maybe what nobody told you is, that it doesn't matter what ANYONE tells you. Motherhood is an experience. A unique to each and every individual experience. Motherhood is the same for no one. Your combination of physical and emotional symptoms are 100% your own. If anyone thinks they can tell you what to expect, they have never been a mother them self. I don't think I have EVER spoken to a first time mother who said, "That was amazing and everything went just as planned!" But I have spoken to all sorts of mothers who say, "Whoa. That was amazing." No matter how things go, there is a moment, where you are nothing but proud at what you created. Where you feel on top of the world. Like superwoman. And that is what it's all about.

So quit whining that no one told you about it. Embrace the experience, move on, grow and love that baby with all your heart. Because, there simply is, nothing else like it.

Johnson County

*Pre-edited***** Final post to come.

Johnson county is the __ richest county in the US. Matt has lived there all his life, besides college, and just recently when we crossed the border to the Missouri side. I have only lived there for the past 8 years, but I married a Johnson county man, and have befriended many in the area...therefore, I have guilt by association. There is a stereotype in this region. Basically, that Johnson County people are snob-ish. Prefer name brands, specifically luxury items. I think we all know the type, and I believe as very much qualify as one, in many ways, but I am a Jackson County girl at heart. My family owns a farm. Like a dingy, 100+ year old farm that has never been renovated, and has a well with snakes in it...not like, a brand new, functioning horse farm, or anything of that sort. I am snob-ish for myself, but feel people can do as they please, and I won't judge them for it (most of the time). I preface with this, because what I am about to describe is probably the most Johnson County-type post I have ever made, and I know it. But it has to be said.

It is Spring Break for the boys. Niether Matt nor I took off of work, in fact, Matt traveled out of town for half of it. My sister and Mother-in-law managed to grab a couple of the boys for a couple adventures {thank goodness for them} but I was still feeling as though the boys had been slighted. I suggested at some point that we stay in a hotel or take the boys somewhere special, but had no energy for the follow-thru. Then, in the final days of break, Matt had a surprise for the family! A night at the Holiday Inn and passes to CocoKeys Water Resort. Though happy he had done this, and made this effort, a little part of me sank __. An indoor water park? Are you kidding me!? Crowds. Lines. Filth. Children everywhere. Claustrophobia. I more had in mind some obscure (so that it wasn't crowded), but clean and well kept up hotel with a pool and a breakfast buffet. I kept my opinions to myself, happily prepared for the night, and mentally envisioned the worst situation possible, so that perhaps, the place might exceed my expectations...

When we pulled up and had to circle the parking lot several times for a spot, already, my heart began to sink. So, so, so, so, so, so crowded. Then, as we approached the lobby to find it littered with smokers outside, one being morbidly obese, in her tattered swim suit with wet hair, and choked our way in through the front doors, the inside proved to be just as chaotic. Crowded. And full of, what I felt to be, inappropriately clothed people. I know this hotel is adjacent to a water park, but, still, we are in a lobby. The condition of the hotel seemed a bit worn, but I thought maybe it was just due to the water and crowds. I was still remaining positive. Reserving judgement. Determined to make this a fun adventure for the kids. I made not one remark. Which is remarkable.

We got to our rooms, 350 and 346. We felt those odd numbers to be joining rooms, but what do we know...oh, wait. A lot. We know a lot. And not surprisingly, they were not adjoining rooms. As specifically requested multiple times throughout the reservation process. With four children, 6 and under, non-adjoining rooms is simply not an option. So Matt got on the phone to deal with this, as we sat in the hotel room. Upon walking in, I had immediately noticed that the desk/dresser combo appeared dusty and covered in crumbs, but assumed I was seeing things. Then Curtis, after exploring the closet, came out with a beaded bracelet and Mitch with a torn piece of napkin. Brock picked up what he thought to be a sock someone had left on the floor, and it turned out to be a shoe sole insert! Gross! Seeing as I have to pee every hour, I finally gave in and headed into the restroom. There were hairs as long as mine strewn about the toilet lid. Seat. Floor. Sink. Hmmm....did I black out? I had I already been in here as well as washed, brushed and blow dried my hair? Wait. Even if I had. I'm pregnant. My hair isn't falling out, currently. More and more, my ability to be fine with this whole thing was sputtering out.

Finally, after speaking with 3-4 different people, it was final. There were not adjoining rooms available, and we would be checking out. I can't say I was dissapointed. I can say that at least 3 little boys were. One 18 month old remained clueless. We shuffled back through the disgusting, decrepid, filth and chaos of the hotel, and drove back to our little Brookside neighborhood to enjoy an ice cream cone. And head to bed. Goodnight, CocoKeys. Perhaps, some other time. A little day trip. No hotel.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A February Review.

Did I mention that Matt and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary last month? I don't think I did. Which is sad. I find that every February I become increasingly sentimental. Afterall, the month is based around love, seeing as Valentine's Day finds it's home in there. We don't celebrate that holiday, but our anniversary is the 10th, so it kind of feels like we do, sometimes.

This year, it dawned on me, February is OUR month. The number of HUGE milestones our family has been through, good and bad, during the month of February is simply astonishing. I will work backwards:

February 2015: Closed the sale on our very first home. The first home we ever purchased together, and lived in for over 8.5 years (see February 2006). Matt received a well-deserved, and much desired promotion.

February 2014: I wasn't pregnant.

February 2013: I was pregnant.

February 2012: George was born on the 17th.

February 2011: Matt lost his very first job. I didn't match for residency. All around, kind of a crap deal. On the plus side, Matt and I celebrated 10 years of dating!

February 2010: {TMI} Curtis was conceived.

February 2009: We baptized our first child.

February 2008: We celebrated our First wedding Anniversary. And, ahem, we conceived our first child. Sorry, TMI.

February 2007: We got married on the 10th.

February 2006: Matt purchased our first home.

February 2002-2005: Nothing big that I can really think of...4 of these years were my Big Ten Conference Meets, so huge for me, not so much for our relationship.

February 2001: February 8th, we began, officially, dating.

The month just seems to be a big one for us. It has the fewest number of days, but seems to set the tone for our year. Based off of 2015's February, things are going to be AMAZING.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Can I give a 4-year old Coffee?

Curtis is not a morning person. He is not. This is becoming more and more apparent in his old age. I mourned the day we had to switch him to share a room with his early-rising big bro, because he used to sleep in late. Though he does not wake up grumpy, it takes only the most minor thing to upset him in the morning. And by upset him, I mean, send him into a screeching, wailing, inconsolable crying fit.

These things include, but are not limited to: any one of his brothers talking to him. Any one of his brothers touching him. Me not letting him play with my phone (which he is NEVER allowed to do in the morning). Having to pee. The dog touched him. The dog looked at him. The dog might look at him. Sponge Bob is on TV. Sponge Bob isn't on TV. He has school today. He doesn't have school today. It's cold outside. We are out of milk. He doesn't know which sock goes on which foot. He wants to wear "scratchy" (athletic) pants. His drink is in the wrong color cup.

At times, this is extremely inconvenient and aggravating, but mostly, I feel for the guy. I have always been in a fine mood in the AM, rarely, if ever, waking up "on the wrong side of the bed". So, I have no idea what it must feel like to wake up and be pummeled by 2-3 siblings, a loud TV, dogs, parents, school prep, and breakfast all while really wanting to sit and hear nothing. I try to keep this in mind, and give the guy a break. Talk a bit quieter with him. Have some patience before frantically expressing we have to get dressed and eat and leave by 7:30am. So, this morning, when we finally got dressed, made it downstairs and he had begun eating breakfast, it was extremely distressing to turn around and find that he had removed his socks! When did he remove them. Where are they now? But most baffling, and what I needed to know at that instant, was WHY!?

"Curtis!? Why did you take off your socks??"

He just looks at me, sheepishly. Not going to fly.

"No really Curtis, why did you take them off!? We have school. You need your shoes on. Where are they!?"

He is still silent and has now looked down.

"Curtis, why did you take them off?"

And then comes the little pouty lip. Oh no. Oh geez, poor sensitive Curtis. He is 4. He has no idea "why" he does anything 99% of the time, let alone, why he decided to remove his socks this particular morning. I try to stop the tears.

"Curtis, it's fine, we can put them back on, just don't take them off before school." I say, in the most loving, sympathetic, yet still authoritative voice I could find.

I wasn't enough. The sad, sad tears started. He felt so bad. He is so sincerely sensitive. Curtis very much dislikes tension, and even more does not like to be the root of causing his mother to be upset. His little brain could come up with no reason as to why he removed the socks, but he was so very sorry that he had.

I continued to try and reassure him that I was not angry, just confused. I hugged him. Put on his socks. Gently reminded him not to do it again. And have proceeded to feel guilty all day. I cannot get the image of my happy little boy's face turning to such sad tears.

Brock, in this same situation, would gladly have given me no less than 8 reasons why he took off his socks, and defended each one. He would have owned his decision. And for me to get him to feel bad about it, I would have had to yell, and scold and perhaps even cry myself (which I don't, this is just for comparison.) I would never feel guilty for sternly asking Brock "Why he removed his socks". I would have forgotten the incident ever happened...seeing as it happens, CONSTANTLY with him, and we all just get over it.

It is so absolutely true that parents treat each child differently, but their personalities require it. Curtis has a fire burning inside of him, but it could so easily be squelched because of his need for acceptance and love of peace. Brock's fire often gets stoked by conflict. He also, is extremely social, but is missing that need for others to accept him. Don't like it? He moves on (or obsesses about it with you until you give in and join him just to get him to shut up.) I simply cannot discipline the 2 oldest children in the same manner. It wouldn't work. I hope they don't feel their childhood "unfair", and I try not to make the parenting differences obvious. But someday, they might be...

...until I figure out what to do with my little morning angel, Curtis. Can I just start giving him some coffee? In whichever cup of his choosing?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's not a competition.


Last Saturday, which is a "whole nother story", Matt was shooting a 1st birthday party for a friend's nephew at the country club. I had all the boys at Chick-filet for a birthday party. Long story short, I had to stop by the country club to seek out Matt, momentarily to get some keys. The friend's mother saw me, of course, and we chatted for a bit. I should add, this friend was a former competitive swimmer, so they know me and my "winning" personality all too well. I believe the first thing she laughingly said, was: "Matt said he's trying to convince you that number of children is not a competition you have to win."

Now, I have to admit, this thought has crossed my mind. I've had multiple heart to hearts, with myself, in which, I am trying to understand what exactly it is that compels me to have such a large family. And the best I can come up with is: it's complicated.

On the surface, it's easy to say these things: I'm competitive. I LOVE all things miniature. And cute. Especially if these things are living! (Though, I like the inanimates as well.) I enjoy chaos and am bored by simplicity. I dislike predictable schedules (again, boring). I really like my husband, and am apparently very fertile. I grew up in a large family, and it's simply what I am accustomed to, enjoyed and feel my children will benefit from it. I LOVE newborns, how they help me to relax, to stop and smell the roses, to cherish life; they ground me.

When I dig, I mean really dig, I believe it all comes down to one core value, which I have held for as long as I can remember; do not waste your gifts. In 7th grade, we were encouraged to begin a journal. I went to Catholic school, and this journal was to be between you and God. One of my first and longest entries was all about gifts, talents, in essence "why were we put on this earth". I intensely felt that we all had a specific purpose. Why else would every human be so different, and possess such different skill sets and abilities? I felt it our duty to discover our greatest talents, strengths, or gifts from God and refine them. Practice them. Perform them to THE BEST of our ability. It infuriated me to see people waste their good fortune. Intelligent classmates perform poorly on tests. Artistic classmates putting no effort into their artwork. Athletic classmates goofing off in gym or at basketball practice. Great singers not trying out for the school musical. I simply did not understand. Why would you ignore this beautiful thing, handed to you. Yours for the taking and making. Yours to share with all of us who do not possess that same talent. This mindset, I'm certain, is why I have done all that I have thus far in life. I simply cannot ignore my gifts and talents, and must pursue them as much as I am able.

It's obvious I took this mission very seriously. I achieved nearly the highest level possible in swimming. I achieved one of the highest levels of education. Then, once I began child bearing, and discovered I was blessed with the ability to conceive and carry a healthy child to birth with relative "ease", I felt, this too, was a gift I have been handed. Matt once got very upset with me for mentioning that "maybe the Duggar's aren't that crazy." I simply meant, I can see how easy it is to view not only every child has a gift, but the ability to continue to reproduce them as a gift as well. So, if we go back to my initial value: "do not waste your gifts", how I can I simply stop having children at some arbitrary number?

My body has yet to show signs that child-bearing has become dangerous, or detrimental to my health. My, now 4, children are all still well-fed, bathed, dressed and happy. Sure, it's possible my husband might be reaching his max capacity, and perhaps I am as well. Also, I do know that at age 35 things do, statistically, become riskier. My logical brain very much understands that there is a limit. A limit that we may have already surpassed. But my passionate, theoretical brain, says, "how can you just ignore this amazing, beautiful gift, and perhaps even, purpose for your life on earth?" If I've ever questioned my path in life, or had doubts about my career or decisions, it's only that I've wondered, did I choose the path meant for me?

I try not to get too into existentialism. It gives me a headache. Especially, because, there is a possibility that we really have no true purpose. But, it seems I have always operated off the idea that I should not ignore my strengths and continue to maximize their potential. I refuse to be a hypocrite. I will always be overly passionate (obsessive, perhaps even a bit compulsive) And I will never stop pursuing my dreams or refining my skills. So. Here we are. At 25 weeks pregnant with number 5. And I am just ecstatic. I am not worried about how she will fit in with us, nor how we will manage with 5 children under 6.5 years of age. I realize it's not a competition (against other people, anyway.) But, I'm not sure the reason for my competitiveness was ever to prove anything to anyone but myself. It's not about being better then other people, but being the BEST of MYSELF. I view it as an opportunity to fulfill one of my many gifts and duties in life. One that I am so, so honored to have been bestowed. I don't care how many children you have, you never stop viewing each one as a beautiful, miraculous blessing. What a wonderful gift I have been given; motherhood.