Sunday, August 28, 2011

Year of Discovery...

...and a $#!% storm of drama. (Excuse me for my typos, as my editor is currently in bed. Asleep).

The year was 1996, and the date Oct. 17th. This was the 10th anniversary of my father's death, and the day I was diagnosed. Though I didn't know it yet, it was already the start of a hellish year in which I discovered myself, lost three family members in 7 weeks (one of which was my brother), and my stepfather had a massive stroke. I was homesick, scared, and not always on my best behavior. Be it a surprise that I was hospitalized for mental health issues? I think not. 

On that day, I learned I had bipolar disorder. Though this diagnosis would change in some ways over the years, my anxiety disorder combined with the bipolar made life a bit more complicated for an average person. I, thankfully, am not an average person. Nor shall I ever be. :) 

My life really didn't turn upside down, but I began to understand perhaps why I acted or behaved in some of the ways I did.  PLU had hired a psychiatrist from the area to come in on Wednesdays, and I saw Dr. Marsha Cain on the behest of Leah Stock, a PLU counselor. Turns out my lack of sleeping, hypermoods (that drove a number of my friends crazy back then), tendency to spend money I didn't have, and my not so cute behavior of "I'm so cute and perky that I am annoying" led Leah to believe there was and is an underlying problem to be concerned over.

Though this diagnosis really didn't phase me until after I got out of college (as PLU didn't really offer any support back then for students with new disabilities) I don't remember coming to terms with my disability until after my good friend Brie came with me to TACID (Tacoma Area Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities) and attended my first peer support group meeting in 2001. Eventually I became a facilitator of these meetings, and was able to help others through their problems as well, but this took some time. I started attending regularly and it was refreshing to know I wasn't alone in my struggles for sanity, to find the right "medication milkshake," and my inability to find the peace that will never quite reach my ever busy mind. 

Over the years my diagnosis would change and be altered a bit in order to treat me better. I was first diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, then added Bipolar II, that was later changed to Bipolar I with PTSD as well. Now, am an ultradian cycler, and the anxiety I've struggled with since I was a kid is actually the predominant disability that has helped me manage so well with the Bipolar disorder. Where many individuals with Bipolar are disorganized and have difficulties with dates, times, meetings and so on... My anxiety over not being ready, on time, with all my crap together has helped me be on top of things.  Not all, things, but some. Come to my house and you will see how I creatively organize in piles. Lots of piles. See my desk at work, I color coordinate everything and prioritize with folders and have a pretty clean desk. (Why does this NOT work at home??)

"Controlling," is what my husband might call it. And being as he is pretty good at being perpetually late to things, even church, this has tried my patience and my ability to adapt just a bit.  (But not much!). But as we know that line from Days of Thunder:  "Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what's gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs."   So, I have learned to let go sometimes.

From this experience I've learned to advocate for myself and others. Though currently overwhelmed with new found mommyhood, my advocacy has fallen off the wagon.  I've always had a passion for advocating for others; whether it is people with disabilities, my brother obtaining access to the general education classroom, being a job coach for individuals with disabilities, teaching special education for six years, or serving on the GCDE (Washington State's Governor's Commission on Disability Issues and Employment). I realize that the only way I was able to be successful in going to school, getting my masters, achieving my national certification, in being a mother, and being able to remain emotionally/mentally healthy through all of this was because I have an awesome support system. 

While attending the peer support groups at TACID, I realized that many individuals didn't have the type of support system I did, and this made their struggles exponentially more difficult. I was able to stay out of hospitals, learn to be good to myself and set boundaries and establish goals and achieve them because I had the help and support of family and friends. Many of the individuals at TACID didn't have this access, had burned bridges, or had families that were not supportive of them. With this, their needs were not met, and their sanity more tenuous.

I do not know how much some of my friends understand that I owe so much of my current mental health to them. Especially, my husband, who though he doesn't always understand where I am coming from (often another galaxy altogether) but has always tried to be supportive.

I can see all of this now, as 15 years have gone by, and I have been so successful in evaluating myself, my behaviors, my moods and learned to be totally honest with myself. If I am half a$$ed in evaluating how I am doing and not being completely truthful, then something gets missed, and I head for a hill or cliff that I really should not try jumping off from. (That is also for another post).

So today, I'm being honest. My depression has come back and I am cycling more. Not too much, but enough to notice that I am feeling really burnt out right now with Sunshine and feel like I need a break. Hubby works a job that is a 1.5 hour commute away, or tries to work from home. He ends up working 12 hr days to make up for inability to work as effectively while away from the office. (*Note, I do talk about myself in 3rd person often).
This puts more pressure on mom, less time to self, and Heather is with Sunshine for 23.5 hours of the day. At some point, Heather needs some major alone time, and I would hate to leave hubby at home for a day to fend for himself with Sunshine and her moods.... but that day looks to be coming soon if I do not get some alone time to decompress and just "be." Some mothers would say that this is not fair for the kid.  But in all honesty, I have recognized that in order for me to be the best mommy I can be, I have some needs that must be met or I will not be that emotionally stable. 

I believe this current emotional state was precipitated by a large swing in anxiety and my needing to take medications again to alleviate some of the panic and anxiety that I could not work through. As I have found taking some medications to treat one disorder (anxiety) tends to cause side affects (more rapid cycling) in another disorder. Thus, at times, quantifying the need to take a medication to manage that as well. 

I have maintained pretty good mental health without being on medications for the past year. This was due to my pregnancy, leaving a stressful work environment, and continuing to breast feed after Sunshine was here. I do not wish to discontinue breast feeding Sunshine, but if after further evaluation I need to go back on medication, I hope that I may still be able to supplement breast milk once in awhile. 

I also have to thank the counselor and ARNP that have both helped me through the way. It has taken years for me to find people who work with me to decide the best route to go with medications, not just have someone dictate what I need to take and not explain why. I have advocated for myself and I know myself better than they do, so can explain why the side effects of a medication outweigh the benefits it may do for my mental health. This has always been key in managing my health, and journaling the side effects and how I have been doing has always helped me back my thoughts and feelings up with the practitioners I have worked with. My current ARNP, rocks!! She was a midwife as well, and also has bipolar disorder. We are discovering what works and I love that we research and explore together.

On another note: Mental illness is becoming a bigger issue in the PacNW and there have been ads on t.v in support of being open and learning more about mental health. I am so glad to see they are doing this as the stigma is so devastating for many, and I've been on the receiving end and burned in the past by revealing my disability. No doubt, I will still be burned again, but I have a voice and choose to use it in these instances. However, a note to those in the communities we live in:

Mental Illness is NOT a disease, but a disorder. Disease has always connoted something communicable to me, and that somehow others could catch it. Disease has been used more by doctors for diagnosis in the DSM V and for those without disabilities who need to feel safer by placing those who are different in a neat and tidy box.

Mental Illness is a disorder. Where life is "disorderly." Where things tend to fall apart, and usually do, and we may lack the ability to pick things up (like those without the disability so easily do). To continue on is not so easily done, or often impossible. Where life is unorganized, doesn't make much sense, or indeed, scares the crap out of some of us and our ability to cope is hindered, altered, changed, or gone completely. Where our ability to relate to others is either diminished or greatly expanded by our experiences of looking at life not just through "rose-colored glasses," but a kaleidoscope of hues from experiences we've lived through, suffered, and come out on the other side forever changed.

To me- mental illness is not a disease. It's simply an ever changed life, where a disorder can lead to chaos. Where the black and white world of decisions and choices to "the normal people", seem like a myriad of grays to those of us "crazy people" that live with the disability. At times, it can be living in a perpetual state of drama and "emergency functioning," or a state of total numbness and apathy.

To me- mental illness was the tool given to me in which to see others differently, and to experience life more richly, deeply, more emotionally than others. Often scary as all get out, often intense, but still filled with the same joys and sorrows that others experience. Just experienced in a different way.

So, to my fellow supporters- THANK YOU!! To those I don't know but are reading my blog for the first time, may it shed some light for you.  To my fellow unique and special beings with mental illness: Blessings to you on your journey and may you find what will sustain you in this life, this great adventure.

To everyone, don't forget to giggle!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Sneaky-Chef, and ME!

Okay. For those of you who know me... I don't cook. I have my own issues with inadequacy in this department and well, when you have a spouse who does enjoy cooking and likes to make delicious meals but may not always be positive about what you make.  You get the picture right?  Let HIM do the cooking.

It all started a few years back. (Holy Cow! More like 8 years ago!!).  I made spaghetti and decided to add garlic. (My bad.... I didn't realize you needed to cook said garlic and put it into slices). I just plopped the half heads of garlic into the spaghetti when it was close to being done.  Well, my hubby (bless his pointed little head) has the tendency to say exactly what he thinks about my cooking (though maybe not to others).  He said something along the lines of "I don't like it." and all I heard was "This is awful."

How long has it taken for me to come around and cook for him again after that??? Yeah, about 3 years. Lame A$$!! Why don't men learn how to couch what they are saying with something positive before just spitting out that your cooking sucks??  He and I have discussed this several times, and while he has a different point of view of what happened at that first cook off, we have come to an agreement.

We have discussed his managerial skills and working with others, and he has the same difficulty. He wants to be straightforward, tell people they are screwing up and how they should do it correctly and this, of course, would come off as not so polite. If he wants to work on speaking to the people he works with and telling them how to improve and figured out that telling them where they have skills or done things correctly usually makes people feel better before they get the "but, you should's." Why the heck wouldn't he try to do this with his wife?? Constructive criticism is not in hubby's basket of skills.

Okay. So on to last evening. My friend introduced me to the most amazing brownies I had ever had.(Thank you, Jenny!!) And you know what?? They are sneaky chef brownies and have good things in them!! Wow! I thought, I want to make these.  Rarely do I get excited about cooking anything anymore, but this had me interested.  So, I went and got some of the sneaky chef cook books and last night made my first meal.  (Not complete, as Sunshine only permitted me a bit of time to do it, and my hubby ended up doing the puree for me so I could finish the rest). So, it wasn't necessarily so sneaky with hubby in the know about what was going into it, but the Barbell Burgers turned out okay.

Now, "okay" for me means something totally different to Mike, aka hubby.  When I asked him what he thought, he said "He didn't like that the burger was crumbling," and that he "didn't like the condiments he put on the burger."  Now, granted I had no fault on the condiment issue, other than I never got around to making the sauce that actually goes quite well on said burgers. The crumbly part, again... I know what I did wrong (added to much oats), and can correct it.  But the man didn't say anything positive to me. Nothing. Like, "It was a good first try," or "It's creative," or "I can't even taste the blueberries or spinach in it."  Nope, he just said what he didn't like about it.

He and I spoke about this tonight. Saying what he did, doesn't make me wish to try and cook again when all there is are bad comments, nothing nice. He said, tonight mind you, that he "Appreciated the effort." Yeah, Sure. He has a rather "rich" palate, and enjoys things very spicy, or lots of flavor. His spicy rating is always 5 star, and this is not the "white version" of 5 star, but the Asian or Indian version of 5-star. Picture sweat pouring down face, under the eyes and nose. This makes Mike a happy camper. The burger I made would be bland to him, but it was healthier than what he usually eats.

So, this is what I figured. I am making the meals for me and Sunshine. If he wishes to partake in them, he is free to do so. If he doesn't like it, tough. I will do what I need to do to make healthy dishes for us. If he doesn't wish to eat it, that will be his shtick. I will fix things that need to be fixed, and try things over and over to get them right... but not for him. I don't think I will ever make something that he actually says "I enjoyed that" or "Wow, that was yummy." I am not going to wait around for a pig to fly either. I am going to cook for me. I think the food will taste much better this way, and well... heck. I should have done this a long time ago. Simple meals, to try and create with a little one in my arms is not going to happen always, but I will make every effort to do what I can with the time that I have.

So, I will be sneaky with my food. I will create what masterpieces I can, and share what I learn. Even though it was crumbly, I still thought the burger tasted pretty good. Just means there will be more left over for others!

So, cook something yummy for yourself and don't forget to giggle. Lord knows I need to practice this!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Attack of the Sleep Monster

Sigh. Here I am at 2:30am, totally awake.  Yet, the past 4 days I have been utterly exhausted. I crave sleep like a drug and have taken every available nap I can with Sunshine, yet still remain in a stupor. Like a drug induced walking coma, or perhaps... quite Zombie-like. I have been getting a fair amount of hours of sleep, yet still am so tired. Honestly. Feels like I first did when I became pregnant with Sunshine.

And yet, sleep eludes me this morning. Perhaps it is because Sunshine is not sleeping well right now either. She is thrashing about in her little rocker. Back and forth... yet still in a somewhat odd sleep state.  I can't sleep listening to that, as this usually means I am to feed her. I have. Twice. I have emptied the udders, so to speak, when they are usually quite full from not having fed her for a few hours.

I know this lack of sleep now is really going to do me in for the rest of the day. What sucks is that, tonight, for the first time in 2 weeks I have not had those yucky night sweats that really have been all-day sweats. I get these extreme heat flashes throughout the day like it is 100 degrees out, instead of only 75. When it comes time to feed Sunshine, sweat pours out of me like I am in the Bahamas with 100% humidity. At night, these happen quite a few times. Throughout my pregnancy I felt like this. Normally, before I was pregnant, this "Transplanted-Californian" was cold- ALL THE TIME! I wore sweaters in the summer, or little cardigans. Nothing prepared me for the heat flashes of pregnancy, or the fact that in the dead of winter I would be throwing the covers off due to my increased heat sensitivity.

I figured once I had Sunshine that I would not have this continued warmth and would go back to my normal, "really cold" state. Not sure what this means now. I read that it could be 1) lower than normal progesterone levels 2) early menopause or 3) I'm pregnant. Not sure about any of these, but I am going to need to go get checked out because this is just not normal.  At least, it wasn't normal before. But I sure as heck hope this is not my "new normal" since having a baby.

Sigh. I hear Sunshine still talking in her sleep and thrashing about... Not sure what has her riled up in her sleep either. Wonder if my touch of heart burn right now has passed on to her in the breast milk? Will go see how I can sooth her, or neither of us will be much good tomorrow, er...uh. Today.

Don't forget to giggle!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The birthing process...

Seriously... I enjoyed the whole birthing process.  I think many women will hate me when they hear my story, but man... I am seriously lucky and hope our next one will be just as wonderful.

My labor started in the early morning of May 4th.  2:30am approximately.  At first, I believed I was just waking up at my usual time to go use the bathroom for the 5th time of the night.  But, no... I realized something was different. 

I was feeling this tugging in my lower abdomen and it was coming rather frequently.  Now, don't get me wrong... throughout my pregnancy I had terrible back pain and round ligament pain. I had an unfortunate event of jumping off "The 40's" (40 foot cliffs near my home) and landing in about 1 1/2 ft. of water when I was younger. I am scared of heights, so normally I wouldn't do this in my right mind. However, at the time... I was NOT in my right mind.  I fractured my tail bone and had a lot of scaring. Since then I have had problems with my sciatic nerves and just too much sitting on my bum that causes bum pain.  

This said, when the labor started I was feeling more pain in my back then anywhere else, so I continued to roll around on my birth ball and just hum to myself.  Then around 4:00am, I had called the doctors as my contractions were actually quite close together... just not intense and my water hadn't broken.  For some reason, the midwife on call said to go into the hospital.  Well, what do you know?  By 6:00am, they were sending me home with some medication to get me some sleep and a note to come back when my water had broken.  

Did I sleep?  Hell, no!  What were they thinking?  Someone who has anxiety disorder, who has taken ambien in the past and the $#i% doesn't work on me, and well... I was a little panicky because I have never had a baby before.  So what do I do?  Strung up on ambien, I go and take a bath while my husband was downstairs checking in for work and letting them know the "baby's arrival was imminent."  Yeah, for all those out there... Don't take a bath when strung out on ambien.  Most people sleep with that stuff. Not me.  I just walk around hung over. Still, not a good idea to submerge oneself in water without supervision.  But God was watching out for me, and nothing happened. Plus, hubby came to check on me and panicked when he saw me in the bath. He didn't leave my side after that.  (We had a similar incident with another medication way back when we were first dating... answered the door. Buck. Naked. Don't remember a damn thing. But that is for another post). 

At around 10:30am... little Sunshine was ready to come out and the water broke.  We headed into the hospital and they strapped me to monitors.  Problem is, Sunshine kept kicking the darn things off.  (If I didn't say this already, Sunshine was a consummate soccer player in my womb since week 11 of my pregnancy. I am really sensitive to things going on with my body, and that is when it started.  She rarely stopped for the entirety of the pregnancy and even after she was born.  The girl had/has ants in her pants!!) So whenever a doctor would try to listen to her, she would kick at whatever was pressing on the stomach. Including the cat. While in labor, I just could not sit down because my back pain was so bad.  The nurses and midwife were so worried because the baby monitor kept falling off, or moving (even if they made me lay in bed- which SUUUCCCKKED). It was because Sunshine was not having it. She was ready to come out and things pressing on the tummy in an already cramped situation was not what she wanted.  

From 10:30am-3:30pm, my contractions continued. I was at 3.5 centimeters by that point and progressing nicely. The contractions were constant. Never really stopping so I could catch a breath, and when they ebbed, they didn't really stop or go away... they just weren't as painful as they were when they really contracted.... and they hurt. Mostly, the pain was in my back.  It just killed.  But Sunshine was not in a position to cause "back labor."  My back is just that whacked out.  By 5:30pm, I was in tears and just wanted my back pain to stop.  The nurses were concerned because they couldn't get a good reading on Sunshine because I was standing, and wanted me to lay down. This was not happening with my back. So, though I was hoping for a natural birth... I opted for the epidural. Man... wish I had gone for that sooner.  

The action of putting in the epidural was a challenge because they wanted to wait for my contractions to go down to insert it. Problem was my contractions didn't let up for them to do it easily.  But, the anaesthesiologist was awesome and got it in with only a few pin pricks. Really, my back hurt so much that I didn't notice much else.  Poor Mike, was in front of me holding on to me while tears rolled down my face. I think he was in pain from my being in pain. At least the look on his face said that much.  We were about to be parents and I think we were both scared poo-less!!  

After this it was smooth sailing. Amazing really.  I could self-administer more or less of the epidural as time went along. I didn't really use it until later. By 8:30pm, I was 8 centimeters. At 10:00pm, I was at 10 centimeters.  Usually doctors worry that the labor will slow down when given an epidural, but we had no problems there.  They began to set up for the delivery. I guess I had this greenish/silvery bubble sticking out, and you could see Sunshine's hair waving around in it. I had them bring a mirror so I could see it, but would not permit Mike to take a picture. Now I kinda wish he had. It was called a "caul." (A child "born with the caul" has a portion of the amniotic sac or membrane remaining on the head. There are two types of cauls. The most common caul is adhered to the head and face, and looped around the ears of the infant. Birth with a caul is rare, occurring 1 in every 80,000 births.- Wikipedia). If you really want to see what the caul looks like, you can visit here. The rare ones born in the caul are known as "caulbearers."

When they told me I would be pushing soon, I gave my self an extra pump of the epidural button at 10:30pm, and then at 10:40pm. I started pushing at 10:51pm and little Sunshine came out at 11:17pm. Twenty-six minutes of pushing and we had/have the most beautiful little girl!  Because I didn't have to push very long, (I guess this is where many women would hate me) and because her head was lubricated and protected by the caul, her little head was perfectly round. She was mostly clean with very little vernix on her. My midwife said that the umbilical cord was pretty dead and it was good she came out when she did.  

I hurt a whole bunch afterwards. They say you are in this whole other world with your little one when they come out.  Really, Mike and I were. Amazed. Awed. Astounded by this little life.  But having to have a DNC while trying to establish our connection with Sunshine? That sucked because the epidural had definitely worn off by then and I felt the scrapping and pulling and tugging of the placenta that really didn't want to detach from my uterus.  Ughh!! I kept saying, "Uh! I feel that. Uh... that hurts. Uh, OW!" 

Other than that, and the lovely few stitches I got, I felt like I deserved a gold star. I've got some majorly awesome tummy muscles (hidden beneath my lovely phat ;).  I don't even have to do those lovely kegel exercises because all's good under the hood down there. ;) No accidental pee accidents from laughing or anything. I am super lucky!!! I honestly owe this to singing. If I hadn't developed those lovely muscles from singing and using breath support, would never have made it.  Totally kept me calm throughout the pregnancy, too.

So... that is my birth experience. They kept me in the hospital for 3 days. Mostly to keep an eye on me, and my lack of meds and oh... the stress induced first breast feedings. We got a social worker that came in to make sure I was "okay" emotionally, and had established mental health care. All-in-all, I am supremely blessed and lucky that it went as well as it did.  I have several friends who had a much tougher time of it, and I often feel guilty for it going so well.  Will it be as easy next time?  Don't know. I think the process was helped a great deal by the caul and what are the odds that will happen again? Not as good, I think.      

That is my birth story. If I can give any advice to soon-to-be first time momma's, it is go with your gut. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm and have a healthy baby. As my ARNP said, it is better to have a pink baby than a blue baby... and if you stress to much you deplete the amount of oxygen to the little one and end up with the blue baby. So do whatever you need to do to stay calm and enjoy the process... as much as you can in this given situation.  It really is a beautiful experience.

Oh! and don't forget to giggle!  

Sunshine, Hula Dancing, and THE FORCE

There she was.  Doing her best to stand on her two little chubby legs.  Wobbling back and forth, much like the hula dancer on a dashboard.  Super cute.... but Oh!  So frustrated.

The dribble was coalescing on her chin.... Down, down, down it fell and moistened the none-too-dry hands that were holding her up.

She was leaning; listing to the side like a ship in a storm. Enticing the item with her beautiful blue eyes. Glaring at the object on the ground.  Why the heck would it not come to her?  She stared in the direction of the items on the floor with such intent, she would swear the items would get up themselves and walk over to her.

Her mother, sensing her aggravation, looked among the items out of reach and moved them closer to her.  The green ball with little rattles in it.  Tends to be my favorite, she thinks, but nope. The force had failed her. This was not what she wanted.

Next item, was the teething keys in various bright colors that beckoned to be gnawed on.
Sigh, nope. This was not what she wanted. Damn, she thinks,  My ability to wield the force is rusty.

She stared harder than ever, so that the strength of her will would induce it to move closer to her.

There.  It wiggled.  She coos at it, encouraging its motion.  She wobbled her hips back and forth with excitement as it came closer. Closer. Closer. Almost there.... Gotcha! She grasps it with her little hand and shoves it into her mouth!

The BINKIE has landed!  She sucks on her pacifier with wild enthusiasm and hulas back and forth in her mother's hands with happiness.

She has cracked the code folks.  She may not be able to manipulate the FORCE, but using her happy smiles and gurgles she sure as hell can manipulate her mother to get what she wants!! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy cows live in.... Washington???

Original Californian, transplanted in Washington state, and I love the "happy cow" commercials! Totally crack me up!  And being that the current status of "lactation brain" has permanently set in for the time being, you are more likely to see me in a field of heifers chewing grass and being "udderly" out of my mind.  (haha- udder.  Get it?)

Now, the action of nursing produces a hormone called "prolactin."  The more I nurse, the less likely I have to go back on medications because nursing will make me feel all warm, snuggly, and that my purpose in life is to sit and produce milk. Well, since returning from our camping trip (which was a success, I might add) Sunshine has been attached at the boob for better parts of the day.  Not really nursing, but just wanting that extra reassurance and security that the boob provides that a Binky just doesn't.  So, being that I am accommodating and would rather want her happy than crying and fussing (and I just could not figure out what it was she was so upset about) I just let her latch on.  What do ya know?  She is content as a kitten and just nuzzles down and falls asleep. Now, if I try to move her... all hell breaks loose again.  So, thus I am feeling quite like a cow, chewing her cud in a field right now.

When settling in with said lactation brain, I have all these great ideas going through my head but do not obtain the desire or energy to follow through with them because... nursing produces this "happy cow" energy where my main purpose in life is to sit and provide the "moo juice" for said survival of my calf.  Seriously, I almost started this post with "Beam me up, Scottie" as I love me some Star Trek. I go into this other universe for the better part of an hour when normally nursing Sunshine. Right now, I am in some far off galaxy for the better part of the day.  You are getting this post during my 20 minute reprieve... She finally drank so much she entered into her milk coma, which hasn't happened in a few weeks. "The Milk is Strong in this one."  (haha, had to throw in a Star Wars theme)

So, I am back to wandering the fields, aimlessly.  No real purpose but to produce Grade A+ moo juice, and making sure my little one feels safe and secure.  If that is walking around with her attached to me like a calf to a cow in the field... then so be it.  Milk does a body, er, baby good!!  Got milk??!!


Make sure to moo and have lots of giggles today!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Big Prep...

Prepping for camping with our little one is no small feet!  (Well, she has small feet, but really! Crap load of stuff and they say that traveling with infants is way easier to do than with toddlers.... sheesh!)

Due to the length of time we are camping, it has come to my attention that we will need a ton of stuff just to keep her occupied or at least comfortable.  Plus, because we will have to do laundry half way through the trip, we still need to pack enough clothes that in case she does make a mess... we are covered.  On top of that, I need to make sure I pack enough so that if she spits up on me or makes a mess, I am going to be covered! (Here is hoping dad gets nailed as much as I do with the spit ups... Sorry, honey).

She is in the stage where she needs to do tummy time, and interact with colorful items.  So, gotta take the play mat.  If I want to use the shower, or do something while others go off and swim or I want to read for just a few minutes... gotta take the bouncer.  She also has to sleep sitting up a bit cause her acid reflux is so bad.  So we have to take the the Rock n' play sleeper.  (I had to include the link, for anyone who ever needs a bassinet type sleeper for their newborn and your baby also has reflux. We got it on amazon for a better price than what is listed here. This is the greatest thing!  You can take it with you. If the baby moves, it will rock them. Plus, it has breathable sides in case they roll over or place their head near it.  For the first few months of babyhood this has been so helpful!!)

Then you have to think about layers. We have several clothes, sleepers, stuffed into bags, but seriously... what are the chances that while camping she will finally blow out a diaper, or spit up? (She hasn't done this yet, and keeps most messes to the day time... but what will you bet she will do this while camping?) So, yeah.  I have come to the conclusion that being prepared is better than not being prepared.  And 10 days of camping is a LONG time to go with a 3 month old. But we are going to attempt it.  Attempt being the key word!

We have made it a tradition to go camping near where we got married, and around our anniversary. Hard to believe it has been 7 years of marriage, and 10 years of being together. Amazing how time flies!! I have loved every minute with Michael. Even the really tough times, and those rough first few years. I love him more now that we have faced these things together. He is an awesome man, and I am one lucky woman to have him, and Sunshine is lucky to have a daddy that loves her so much!!
Well, wish us luck on camping and I shall let you know how it goes!!!
Have a brilliant day and don't forget to giggle!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Personal Bill of Rights:

1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
2. I have the right to say "no" to requests or demands I can't meet.
3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, Positive or Negative.
4. I have the right to change my mind.
5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
7. I have the right to say "no" to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behaviors, actions, feelings, or problems.
10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
13. I have the right to feel scared and to say "I am afraid."
14. I have the right to say "I don't know."
15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior or choices.
16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me. (mentally, emotionally, or physically)
20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
22. I have the right to change and grow.
23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
25. I have the right to be happy. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Concerns for a little girl...

I so wanted to be natural with Sunshine-  not have to give her medications if I didn't have to.  Of course, I am so worried about her comfort and distress, that finding out she has an infection that I could really do nothing to stop from happening, and thus she needs antibiotics to get it to go away.... Well, it just makes me sad.

When I was young, I was on antibiotics often for some reason or another. As I got older, prescriptions really did stop working on me so well as I had become immune to their efforts.  When I was in college, I continued to have strep throat, ear infections, tonsillitis, etc.  It wasn't until 2008 when I finally had my tonsils removed and I have rarely gotten sick with a real infection since. I still feel run down, tired, exhausted. This is mostly due to depression, or seasonal depression up here in the Great Pacific Northwest.  What a difference having my tonsils removed and feeling ever so much better. Not to mention, my pitch and tonality in singing has gotten supremely better!  I believe my range got wider too.

So, what does this have to do with Sunshine?  To take antibiotics, or not take antibiotics? That is the question. How do we as a parent know, without being doctors, when enough is enough, or that there has to be something else that can be done?  Sunshine has been on an antibiotic for her UTI for 9 days now.  Her fever still pops up, but she is definitely being feeling a bit better and not in as much discomfort. However, the doctor does not believe her UTI is gone since she keeps sprouting the temperatures.  On top of that, she sounds congested a lot, but her chiropractor said it could be because her axis in her neck has been out.  I think, honestly, that she has allergies.  Could be the cat or dog, or dust in the house. I find her and I sneezing at the same time often. She has had white stuff in her nose, which my ENT said for me, is the presence of allergies and my system fighting it off.

She was given medications for her acid reflux, and this was changed as she seemed to get used to this stuff as well. So, on to another prescription.  I am seeking her comfort, but when is too much, too much? I don't want to kill off any of the good enzymes in her stomach that will later be able to do the digestive work for her.  I certainly do not wish for her to be in the pain she has been in.  Perhaps, these two issues have something in common and are something totally different?  Who knows?

Perhaps the real reason I am having troubles with this is because I have hated having to take medications to make me "feel okay" for my mental illness.  Medications to manage my mood fluctuations, my stress and anxiety... and what it took for me to be relatively okay is to get pregnant and to continue breast feeding. An  "All-Natural" remedy to mental illness. How long will this last? Again, who knows?  My hubby keeps saying "Let's start on baby #2," while I am saying I want to lose the last 30 of the 65 lbs I gained with baby #1.  Perhaps, he feels I should stay pregnant so I don't have to take all those pills and am fun to be around?  I have to admit, I was in a profoundly better mood most of the time, even if I was extraordinarily uncomfortable at other times during my pregnancy. How is it that pregnancy closed the gaps between my synapses, aiding in my ability to feel better and not worry so much?  I won't lie when I say that I still had severe difficulties with thinking straight thoughts throughout the pregnancy, and I still had and have difficulties with stream of consciousness and little hypermanic episodes where I spend money we don't have.... All in all, I am doing much better. Amazing how God creates us.

Back to square one with Sunshine.  I guess I will have to talk to her doctor about all this. My concerns about the antibiotics and so on.  On top of that, the ultrasound should pick up what the root cause of all this could be, and perhaps then she won't have to take any more meds.  That would be a blessing.  Keep praying.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Until next time, a beautiful day to you and may you have lots of giggles.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Sound of Music....

The Sound of Silence, Does. Not. Exist. In. This. House!  I often find myself humming the same tunes that Sunshine uses on her play-mat in the living room.  It has a jungle theme, but plays varying themes of "Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star", "Skip to my Lou" and other tunes.
Every morning and afternoon she spends some time kicking the little poles that hold up these butterflies, and it makes the music go.  I find myself dancing to this wherever I am, telling her to "kick-kick-kick" and she talks back to me.  I even think she is doing her own version of singing to these songs.

There seems to be a constant sound of giggles, crying, or singing going on in this house.  I love it!  The dog even howls when particular songs sound from my cell phone. (Namely hubby or Nana calling, or alarms to get going). I have found that Mike and I make up songs to little activities we do all the time, before we had Sunshine. Now that she is here, we do this even more now. I find myself tapping 16th notes on her bottom, and she seems to not go to sleep unless I do so.  I sing her to sleep with the "River Lullabye" from Prince of Egypt, or "Baby Mine" from Dumbo. Dad will chime in for "I'm Just a Little Black Rain Cloud" from Winnie the Pooh. She loves to hear dad's deeper more resonant voice.

Even though we don't consciously hear or see it, music is a huge part of our daily lives... be it in the sounds of birds chirping and the wind in the trees, or the hums we sing to Sunshine as we change her diapers, count her buttons, or rock her to sleep. Music is everywhere we go and in everything we do... One just has to take the time to listen.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Toofers, is Heater speak for teething.  Poor Sunshine is already teething, and thus the reason her low grade fever has never gone away. Her "toofers" hurt and she is grumpy, but this is mostly because she hasn't mastered her finger dexterity yet so that she can grab what she wants to shove in her mouth.  Quite comical really. Her little 3 month old frustration tantrums and the drool flowing down her chin. She just talks and talks and tells me all about how displeased she is with her little conundrum.

She also does this cute sitting thing....where she is being supported by a boppy pillow but leeeaaannnsss to one side and then falls over.  I'd like to say I am laughing with her, but she is so pissed.  But seriously.  It's hilarious! Today, she was so displeased that when I tried to put her down for tummy time she immediately went into supersonic mode and was hiccuping with displeasure.  Sigh... she really is vocal about what she likes and doesn't like. I believe our little sensitive daughter is going to really break some hearts later.

Well, I am off to do laundry since I can sneak away while she naps. Amazing the energy I am finding at the most odd times of the day, where before I really had none.
Have a beautiful day and don't forget to giggle!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mental Illness and Motherhood...

I had quite a bit of tragedy and trauma in childhood.  My mother, bless her heart, did the best she could.  As well as my Step-father.

There were parts of my upbringing that I had to reflect on today, as I sat in the office with my ARNP talking about my insecurities and fears. Whether it was known to my parents or not, I developed an inability to speak my mind, or feel emotions at the appropriate times because I learned it was not okay to be angry or upset with them or with what I was experiencing. I was not permitted to be angry or to talk about the feelings I was having, if those issues were to sensitive for my parents or they were not able to deal with said emotions very well at that time. I had no outlet to discuss all my confusion and feelings occurring from abuse, abandonment, and trying to gain attention and praise by living up to my brother's astounding accomplishments. (This could never be done, but that is another post for another time).

On top of that, I questioned everything I did: Why or why not people liked me? If I had the ability to learn or do new things without my parents approval.  I wanted, no-  NEEDED, to earn their approval and attention. Now, granted, a lot of these issues brought up (possibly stills bring up) guilt, resentment, and fears of their own to my mother.  (If you are reading this mom, truly... you did the best you could under the circumstances and I no longer blame you or dad. I need to be free to talk about these things, even if you are not ready). I just want to make sure the pattern is not repeated with Sunshine.

I noticed, after all the wonderful comments sent back to me regarding my post this past Sunday, that I portrayed my "insecurities" as being affected by the people I was with.  Truly... these are MY insecurities and no one else now has caused them but myself. It is not one person that may bring them up more or less than another. I have realized that I am truly over-sensitized to what others may think and do around me, that I take their meanings totally wrong. Doesn't mean there aren't some mommies out there whose advice I really just don't need. Just means I have to work on ME. So, here is a better understanding of what mental illness is like and why I may get my wires crossed a bit:
You have two houses.  They look the same on the outside.  On the inside, however, house A has great insulation, wonderful layout, clean and clear wiring and electrical. House B, however, has NO insulation, and the wiring and electrical shorts out a bit and sends energy to different parts of the house. It turns lights on when you wanted the dishwasher to work, or the refrigerator to run, when you really wanted the fan on.  What is it about the two houses that is so different.... the insulation.

Some people, are like House A. They can generally take hard hits, take lots of information and not have it effect them emotionally at all.  I, however, am your House B. Whether it is rain, sleet, hail, wind.... I feel it deep in the core of my house, and have difficulties interpreting their meaning. Here is another point.  The 50mph wind that hits house A, doesn't phase it.  The same wind that hits House B... can knock the house off its foundation.

I'd like to think that with all the issues I have faced growing up that my house has held up pretty well. But add in new mommyhood, lack of sleep, and no medications... My walls are not fairing so well and I take things a bit personally.  Possibly too personally.  Because I am unable to let go of these emotions effectively, have an effective outlet, loved ones close to me (Sorry, honey) get the brunt.  Mike doesn't deserve that, unless of course he is part of the reason I am all worked up. (;-p

There are times when I have needed to speak up and ask people to back off, but I have never done so because I learned to not question authority. This includes running away from jobs because I am too intimidated to speak up to my very authoritative bosses, or running away from conversations where I have a valid opinion. I have the right to question others who give unsolicited advice, right?  Or at least tell them to lay off a bit?  Like, tell my mother-in-law if she really has a problem with my not cooking for her son and having a dinner prepared for him when he gets home everyday, that she should talk to HIM about it, and not me?  I can't even do this. I just sit and take the "you should's" over and over again.

What kind of message does this send to my brain? Well at first I tell myself, "This is just his mother being protective." However, after hearing these comments repetitively, or the fact when she calls and is on speaker phone and only asks how her granddaughter is doing or if Mike is eating alright.... I get the sense that her "you should's" is her affirmation that I am not doing what she believes I should and a boundary has been crossed. Why can't she trust her son to make his own decisions?  This does not help my relationship with her at all, nor the sense that I am doing things right. For me, it is hard to disconnect from those comments and just have it fly off my back. My insecurities grow, and I get more disgruntled. I am just waiting for a day when my buttons will be pushed and I will really tell her how I feel. I don't want this to happen, as this hurts both her and Mike.

What worries me is this: How does my insecurities, intimidation, and my mental illness, affect my daughter? How will she learn to have healthy relationships with people if her mother is not able to model and teach her how to effectively communicate to others... even if those people are family and even if she may disagree with what they say or do?  I do not want her to be tongue tied, or taught that speaking her displeasure or disagreement is wrong. I want her to know her opinion matters, even if those she shares it with do not agree with her.

I guess I have a lot of work to do with myself, first. Learn how to accept myself the way I am, and give myself some slack for my foibles. Good thing I have awesome friends, a counselor, and ARNP to help with this. Eventually, with time, all wounds will heal though they may leave scars. With time, I will figure myself out and be an even better mother than I am now!

So, yeah.  These are my musings for the day. Thanks to all of you for your support!
May your day be beautiful, bright, and filled with giggles.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wait. (The discovery and purpose of the hands).

Excerpt from Sunshine's day:

"There it is.  I can almost touch it. Gotcha!"

"Uh, why can't I let go?  Wait, was that me?  Did I make that noise? (shakes fist) WOW!  That was me!  Hmmm.  What does this taste like, I wonder?

Wait. I shall place this in my mouth.
Hmm... surprisingly bland. But squishy.  Let me try this again. Hmmm.  I could get use to this.  Not to bad. Just squishy. Wait. Why does it keep rattling? What is that crackly noise?  I don't like that!! Crap. Get it away from me!  Now!!

Wait. Give me something else to suck on, dammit! You can't just take that away from me and not give me something to suck on.  Hmmm.  This cloth on body may do.  Yum. Metal button.  The rest doesn't have much flavor, but it will suffice.
It's soggy now.  I am not happy with soggy! I want something else!

Wait. What is this?  It is red, it is squishy, and it doesn't make any noise.  I like this.  I shall place it in my mouth. Hmmm.... I like this.

Wait. What is this?? This feels different, but is tasty. Yum.  Those little phalanges are tasty. Those are what I have been using to grab items... and they themselves are really tasty! Wow!  Forget those damn toys, these are the bomb!!

Wait.  Why can't I put both of them in my mouth at the same time?  This is not fair. This is sooo not fair!!!  Give me something to suck on dammit!    

Wait. The orb! I want the orb!!! 
Sigh.... that is better. Nothing beats the moo juice (or in this case the mom juice).
Now I will proceed to make a mess in my shorts to show my appreciation."
(She discovered how to use her thumbs to pick things up more effectively. She had been just using her fingers to pinch at things. She started off playing with a crackly dog we have named Flopsy. He has a rattle and feet she could suck on. Obviously, her attention span did not warrant prolonged time with this one. Next she went to sucking on the button on her outfit. Again, short but sweet.
Next she went to a red Winnie the Pooh item, that is part blanket with a head and arms of Pooh sticking out. She generally likes this one... but then discovered her hands tasted better.
Then, she was not satisfied with her hands because she could not get both fists in her mouth at the same time. She then justified that it was time to eat. She was much happier with the orb. While eating, she made the dirty diaper. While being changed, and after eating, she went back to chewing on her fingers.)