The perfect thought at the perfectly wrong time

11 December 2014

oh, the toddler

I think this is maybe the nature of life with a toddler, but sometimes I feel sick of it. So much defiance. Almost every moment feels like a battle unless we are ignoring each other! He follows maybe one out of one hundred verbal requests, and even that percentage seems generous right now. It is getting harder for me to just pick him up and force him to go where I want him to go, and he doesn't listen even afterI allot him freedom to do as he wishes. Every time I get him out of his car seat, he tries to go downstairs to his grandma's whether she is home or not. He thinks it is funny to run away from me and then it is a game of chase in his mind. I feel like maybe I should just avoid taking him anywhere, but that seems bleak, too.

Sometimes he does things that hurt me and then laughs when I say ouch or reprimand him. He does not seem to eat real food but asks for juice and milk and sugary things instead. He constantly requests to watch TV, and I let him every day because it is easier for me, but I always feel guilty. He says "stop it" and "don't" to me constantly, and everyone else. He is quite the bossy little man.

I know it's a combination of factors that lead me to my impatience with this stage, but I wonder if part of it is this evolutionary mechanism to turn my heart toward the more helpless and dependent being who is gestating inside of me and away from the older child. I mean, there are wild mammals who basically forsake their young as soon as they are weaned (still working on the weaning thing). Is that a thing for humans? I hear people say sometimes that they can't imagine their hearts expanding to love two children because their love for their first is so great, but for me it feels sort of like I can't imagine my heart expanding to continue love my older child, and I would rather kick him out and force him to make his way on his own.

But then there are moments where he is so unbearably cute and amazing and I feel so guilty for not appreciating him more.

09 December 2014


Do you ever feel like you are not in a great position to receive advice? Probably because I'm quite prideful and am my own worst enemy, I feel like this quite often.

As baby time draws near (I wish I knew how near!), I feel increasingly anxious about the prospect of a home birth, postpartum recovery, and having two kids to stay home with and care for. The other day a woman in my ward suggested that I practice with a doll to prepare Shepherd for having a baby sister. Mommy's feeding the baby, Mommy is changing the baby's diaper, etc. Good idea, I thought, but probably it's not going to happen. I seem barely able to survive a day without the help of the TV as far as Shep is concerned and things just seem to be getting harder in many ways. I have been thinking and worrying (probably mostly unproductively) so much over the past nine months about how this transition will go for Shepherd. I'm sure I haven't done enough to prepare him for it, either. But I guess when it happens, we'll just go survive.

I've never considered myself a particularly confident or passionate person. I don't have a political agenda about breastfeeding or home birth like some of the women who make similar choices seem to have. I don't think formula is inherently evil, and I respect the experiences most women have with hospital births. The motivation behind these choices for me personally can probably be more simply boiled down to fear of the alternative. After my less-than-ideal experience birthing Shep in the hospital, I am more scared of giving birth in a hospital than I am at home, so a home birth seemed like the better option. (I am aware of the risks and implications involved with birthing at home, though, and I'm scared of those too!) I am more scared of weaning and teaching my child how to sleep on his own than I am of continuing to nurse and allow him to use it as his main method to fall asleep, despite the fact that there are a lot of implications and problematic elements involved with that choice too that I worry about.

I just wish sometimes I felt like my efforts were enough. I understand that almost all of the concern for me others express probably comes from love and good intentions, but sometimes I don't feel very receptive to suggestions, worry, and concern. I'm not doing this because I'm brave or trying to prove something. I feel weak and scared, and I want to hear positivity and confidence expressed in me because sometimes I can't seem to muster it myself. I want to hear that I'm okay and that what I'm doing seems to be working well. Of course no one else can really provide me with these things; I know it has to come from within. I suppose that's something I need to work on.

02 December 2014

lost things

Maybe this is TMI but I've been having nipple problems lately. I've diagnosed myself with Reynaud's syndrome/nipple vasospasms and I blame this condition on nursing during pregnancy. Probably women's bodies were not evolutionarily designed for nursing and gestating babies at the same time. I defy you, evolution! Consequences, though, have not all been pleasant.

This is all to say that I bought these nursing pads made out of wool in order to try to combat this condition. Wool is pretty pricey. Then one day I lost ONE of my boob sweaters. I call them boob sweaters because they're intended to keep my nipples warm enough to not spaz out. TMI? TMI TMI!

I was so very upset by this lost breast pad, which I had purchased just days before. I turned over the entire house looking for it. I couldn't imagine where it could be. I got depressed and instigated a fight with Tim because I was irritable and moody. I felt spiritually agonized and prayed that I would find the lost thing. And then, because I was in emotional turmoil and couldn't sleep, I wandered around the house around midnight and beheld the lost breast pad in the middle of the living room floor.

Yes, it was a relief that this lost thing was found. . . but . . . Tim didn't find it. I didn't find it. It just appeared. Its reappearance was as mysterious as its disappearance. Tim and I both found the manner of its recovery a little unsettling. He's started locking the doors more because maybe someone stole it and then came into our house and returned it? I have no idea. It's weird. Should I be embarrassed that I was crying not too quietly in the other room before I found it on the floor? Mysteries.

Is your spouse #1?

Over the past little while, I've noticed a couple of things crop up around the Internet about putting your spouse before your kids and how important that is to your marriage and for your kids, as well.

I'm interested in thoughts about this. Everything I have read seems to suggest that if you don't willfully prioritize your spouse's needs above your child(ren)'s, then you are in some need of adjustment.

I take issue a bit with this stance, but I'm also a little uncomfortable with my reasons for doing so. Reading what I've read has made me feel a bit guilty because I suspect often that I put my child's needs ahead of my husband's. Not intentionally, but I do so because my child is a very little human. He needs are more numerous and constant, often more simple to fulfill, more urgent, and he requires my constant presence/supervision. While I theoretically value my marriage enough to prioritize it over my child, I think in pragmatic terms it's a bit impossible, at least for me. We don't really have the resources to seek out a date night every week, for example, and I haven't prioritized it. When you don't have a free (or affordable) and reliable babysitter, it's easier to just take walks and hope the kid keeps quiet long enough for you to finish expressing a coherent thought. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. We just take what we can get.

I don't think it's realistic to think that your marriage will be prioritized the same way as it was pre-child. Is that just me? I justify myself by thinking that this stage of our lives (during which our opportunities to connect as two married adults are almost continuously interrupted by a young child functioning in his own dimension) is a temporary one. Our relationship probably won't go back to how it was before we became parents, but I'm sure at some point in the not-too-distant future, it will be a little easier for me to make my marital relationship more well-rounded. Sometimes right now, it feels rather like a business contract involving a parenting partnership. But is it so wrong of me to admit that my life is sort of about my kid(s) more than my marriage at this moment?

24 November 2014

another pantsless party

Rereading my post about making Shep go naked because I wasn't prepared reminded me of our very similar experience at church yesterday.

I usually don't drop Shep off at nursery. Mostly Tim does, and often assistance is offered by the five-year-olds I used to teach in Primary, one of whom seems to be one of Shep's favorite people right now. They like to help take him to nursery and did so yesterday too, but for unknown reasons, I decided to accompany them and even made a point of saying goodbye to Shep before going back to play prelude music. Cue trauma. I decided to let the nursery leaders try to help Shep through his feelings of abandonment, but he didn't seem to be comforted after several minutes, so I returned to get him and ended up taking him into Primary with me, hoping he would be ready to return to nursery later. The return to nursery never happened, which is too bad and a little strange because he has done well in there the past few months.

Shep did fairly well in Primary, though, and was minimally disruptive while sitting with his friends (my former class) for a while, but then I noticed that he was starting to leak through his diaper. In the matter of seconds that it took me to get from our seats to my bag behind the piano, which had a clean diaper in it, it looked like he had completely wet his pants with no diaper as a barrier. As I changed him on the floor behind the piano, I debated about whether or not to put his pants back on. I decided the lesser of two evils was to set him free with a clean diaper but no pants. He was self-conscious at first but returned to join the CTR 4 class fairly soon thereafter without much ado. At this point I was needed on the piano, so I didn't join him. I only could guess that the giggles emanating regularly on the other side were a result of Shep valiantly trying to participate in singing time with only a diaper and thus becoming the laughingstock of the Primary. The poor kid probably didn't realize he was the cause of the laughter though and seemed to join in happily.

tandem nursing

I didn't mean to turn this blog into one about breastfeeding, but it's on my mind today, and I did fairly warn you, reader, that I might try to start using this space as an outlet for what's on my mind. If there actually is anyone reading this, feel free to navigate away to more interesting Internet places.

I just finished reading Adventures in Tandem Nursing. This book has been on my to-read list for much of this pregnancy, but without ordering it from La Leche League's website for nearly $20 (I am not accustomed to paying more than $1 for books, so this seemed obnoxious to me), it was rather difficult to get my hands on a copy. I ended up asking my twin brother (whom I rarely associate with) to check it out from the University of Utah's school library because I couldn't find it anywhere else! I should probably be a member of La Leche League so I can get borrowing privileges to such titles and maybe be a part of a community with some other women who have had similar experiences with nursing. 

Shepherd is 31 months old and he continues to nurse. I hesitate to even describe what he does as breastfeeding, because while in theory it all seems like one and the same (he still suckles at the breast for all intents and purposes), I believe he stopped nursing for any nutritional needs quite some time ago. As others often seem compelled to do, I also feel like I want to state here that my experience nursing a child is so different from what I thought and planned before having a baby that it seems almost unimaginable that I ended up here or once thought about the issue as I did before. 

One of the mother's stories in the last segment of Tandem Nursing sounded a lot like Shepherd: once the baby actually arrived, he was jaundiced and required treatment under the lights, which he didn't tolerate very well. The mother described crying as the baby was crying under the lights and thereafter feeling sensitive to her baby's crying (I imagine that is not unusual), eager and anxious to do whatever it took to stop the baby from crying whenever possible. It was so sad to listen to Shep cry under those lights and be unable to do anything for him, so I sent him away from my room to the nursery and only went in to nurse him. Thinking about this, which I haven't done for a while, makes me feel like crying.

So began a nursing journey, I suppose, that reached far beyond feeding a baby from my body. Nursing seemed like one of the few tools I was capable of utilizing that would generally work to calm him. It seemed like he was always crying if he wasn't nursing. 

I never really anticipated nursing coinciding with pregnancy, but here I am at 36 weeks gestation and Shep continues to nurse to fall asleep (thankfully he doesn't often nurse otherwise). I feel like I'm at the end of my pregnancy, even though these last few weeks always feel long, and I am worried about how things will go when I'm no longer pregnant. I guess I just always counted on the idea that he would give up nursing on his own. I've never liked the idea of forcing weaning on him because I was too intimidated by the battle I foresaw. So I thought he would just give it up at a time when he stopped needing it, and that I would be glad to accommodate until then. But so far it hasn't worked out that way. I've been setting limits along the way because nursing hasn't exactly been pleasant the last eight months or so. It's been a painful and fairly frustrating experience for me, though not wholly so (I've been having nipple vasospasms quite a lot--perhaps caused by "dry nursing"--but ironically the one thing that seems to alleviate the pain is nursing, so I sometimes encourage Shep to nurse even when he doesn't want to!). But we've kept at it anyway. Why? I guess because it seemed more manageable to me to nurse him to sleep than to find another solution to get him to sleep. When Tim is here, I often pass Shep to his arms for him to rock to sleep in the chair. That has worked at times. Am I a bad parent for not teaching my child to sleep on his own? I often fear that I am.

I worry about fitting a nursing newborn into this journey that has been already complicated by pregnancy. Reading Adventures in Tandem Nursing was encouraging for me, though, because it helped me feel like it might be okay to just take things one day at a time with this tandem nursing business and decide not to make any decisions. There have certainly been times when I've come close to making decisions about changing the status quo, especially when the status quo seems pretty intolerable in the moment, but I never have the confidence to pull the trigger on the big guns, it seems. I hope that I'll have the courage to make adjustments when it's necessary for my well-being as a mother. I believe in self-sacrifice for my babes to fill their needs, but sometimes I'm afraid of taking that to martyr levels and endangering myself in the process.

09 November 2014

We were headed home late last night and Shep was really in need of a diaper change. These days I don't really bring wipes with me when we go out, and often no diapers either, because I am in the habit of assuming that he's done pooping for the day after the morning and that his diaper will outlast his pee on most outings. He went such a long time (from age three months to two-and-someodd) having only one bowel movement a day, and it's hard to adjust to the new reality. Also I think I secretly am in denial that he's not potty-trained yet?

When we left and put him in the car, he started to complain copiously, saying "I poop" over and over. Sitting in poop isn't comfortable (I can imagine), and I felt terrible that he seemed to be in pain. We tried telling him if he would just poop in the potty, this wouldn't be a problem, but I don't think that helped. I had Tim drop me off at a hospital on our way home so I could go use the restroom and get him cleaned up. I figured I'd just leave him naked since I didn't have anything with me. Even though I tried to warn him, after I took off the diaper and wiped him with wet paper towels (I can't tell you how many times I have done this in public restrooms at this point), he started crying and saying, "Where's the diaper? Where's the diaper?" He seemed so self-conscious about being naked from the waist down and I felt like the mother of the year. I hope he doesn't grow up to remember this moment I shamed him.

07 November 2014

My sweet friend came to visit me today and we had a nice conversation about circumstances and living above them. I've been thinking about how hard everything feels and how oppressive circumstances are, even though I know that I have control over how I respond to something and think about something. I admired the positive progress that she talked about being able to make in her life and how it gives her hope for the future. I'm not really sure what to do about it, but I know it is something I need to work on.

pregnancy and stress

I feel like pregnancy is an inherently stressful, anxiety-inducing experience. First and not least of all, there is a human being inside of you who is dependent on your growth. And yet, it seems, besides avoiding obvious things like smoking and drinking (and you only really have to avoid doing them excessively, the research seems to say), there's very little you can do to control the outcomes. Many pregnancies end in loss, especially early on. It always feels tentative somehow. Early on, I was quite worried that I would miscarry. My first prenatal visit had me calculating my due date based on my last menstrual period (pretty accurately, I thought) for December 5. When I had an ultrasound, the embryo was too small for those dates and the heartbeat was slow. The midwife seemed to expect fetal demise. It was a relief to go back nearly two weeks later and see growth consistent with the measurements taken the first time, but it was depressing that my due date was dialed back more than two weeks (December 23)! Now I have nothing but positive indications of life to come, but it all still seems up in the air somehow. Even though I have gone through pregnancy before, I can't really imagine how my life is going to change when my womb child (a foreign concept) becomes my child on the outside. I can't imagine how fragile life, especially one that is somewhat dependent on my choices, can become stronger. My life is about to change in extreme yet unpredictable ways.

I was having a chat conversation with a friend who told me fairly recently that I consider contingencies more than anyone she knows. I don't think it is a good thing. I am the sort of person who considers the worst case scenarios, you might say, and my conception of how things will work out is quite nebulous. I worry that they won't work out well. My vision of the future often feels a little dreary. I worry about the adjustment to two and how this girl's brother is going to adjust to life with a baby sister. I already feel inadequate as a mother (I especially blame the ways in which pregnancy has made me feel limited--Shepherd has been watching quite a lot of TV lately), and I'm sure I'll be even more limited once I have to actually manage a newborn's needs. It seems odd to make such a life-altering decision to bring another life into this world. Like being caught  on a tremendous wave, you have to see it to the end and discover where it takes you, because you can't move back from it. I don't feel like I have the intuition to guide me through such things, perhaps because I want to see the end from the beginning too much.

The stress of anticipating such a big change to my life combines with a biological basis for not coping with day-to-day life stressors, it seems. And nine months is a long time. About nine months ago, I quit my full-time work-from-home job and entered the world of  staying at home with my first child. I had a fair amount of freelance work on the side at first, but that quickly dropped off to a slight trickle. A series of unexpected or unusual expenses took the place of my income: in April Shep had ear tube surgery that we paid for out of pocket (Relief did come later--we got on Medicaid and were eligible for reimbursement, but actually getting the money back from the various agencies was a months-long hassle); Tim had a few classes during the summer to take through SLCC for his teaching license and tuition was $1000; we lent money to his mother one month so she could pay rent and haven't gotten paid back (and probably won't); we owed a lot in taxes this year; we've had car problems and more car problems; compelling reasons to upgrade from a queen-size mattress to a king-size forced us in that direction; we've been trying to prepare for the birth of a new child by paying for prenatal care, baby equipment, clothing, etc. The list could go on. When we went from two incomes to one, we knew we wouldn't be saving a whole lot, but we thought we could stay within our means. It's been a struggle to do so. We haven't been able to put any savings aside, and I worry about that.

Then there's life with a two-year-old. I love it and hate it at the same time. It is really fun to see Shep developing language, imagination, and a sense of humor, and it's fun to embark with him on this discovery of his personality and the world around him. It is really not fun to feel constant antagonism. It seems he's always resisting my will or I'm always resisting his, and usually he wins because I don't have the energy for a battle. I suppose life with him has sort of always been that way to a degree, but now it's more pronounced because of the emotional force behind it. Instead of being a helpless infant who has no decision-making power, his demands seem almost maliciously designed because there is some amount of negotiation and reasoning surrounding them now. Little mister is sleeping in the bed as I lie on the other side writing this and his innocent state of unconsciousness has me feeling a bit guilty for complaining (complaining? I don't mean to complain, exactly) about his wakeful behavior. He really is a sweetheart and I honestly can't regret his existence, even though I'm constantly doubting whether I'm doing the best by him.

05 November 2014

an outlet right now

I think I've avoided this space somewhat as a consequence of too many considerations about audience, but who reads this blog anyway? I'm going to revisit it as an outlet for expression, maybe, and see how I feel about it.

I am approximately 34 weeks pregnant right now. That is a little generous maybe because it's probably closer to 33, but I am in need of a little generosity on pregnancy timeline right now. Six weeks doesn't seem like much, really, in the scheme of things, but pregnancy always feels interminable, it seems. My mental health hasn't been too great of late. I guess antenatal depression is a thing for me? Pregnancy is really the pits. I honestly don't know how I'm going to get through the next six weeks (to nine?) when I think about them in a lump, but I try not to do that. One day at a time is the way to plod through. Maybe I should do some more long-term future planning and considerations, but sometimes decisions are too much and deciding not to decide and trying to go with the flow is a little bit more manageable.

And today has been an okay day.

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