Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yeah....I'm not lovin' it

I love my new son. I am thankful beyond belief that he is healthy. I wouldn't trade him for the world.


I am not lovin' this newborn thang.

Today I saw a lady I know from N's preschool who has a 3-month-old in addition to having 2 older children (the oldest being the same age as N). I made the comment, in my curmugdeonly way, that I forgot how hard it is having a newborn, and she said, "Oh, but don't you love it?" And by the look on her face, I got the distinct impression she really does love it.

I wish I could say I love it too. But I'd be lying.

I don't hate it....and I am trying not to wish away this time because it is usually not my way to wish things away (other than this damned incision infection), but I cannot help but think it will be nice to get to a routine when I am not being sucked on 45 trillion times a day. And not being woken every 3 hours at night.

At 3 weeks out, I am at the point where I'm feeling better than I did 2.5 weeks ago but my breasts still ache upon letdown, my nipples are all raw and sensitive, and I'm just tired.

For a long time I have referred to the newborn stage as the wormy period because newborns are just wormy---they wiggle and squirm and don't do anything of any interest. Every day I have been taking pics of M, and every pic is the same: him laying there with a look of utter disinterest on his face. He cries, he nurses, he sleeps, he poops. I don't bother with the camcorder because after watching many long minutes of N as a newborn on video, I decided it simply wasn't good filmmaking to show a newborn "doing his or her thing." Ken Burns would, I'm sure, agree.

Beyond the boring factor is the clothing. The 2-piece outfits I see for babies ages birth to 6 months are so stupid because all they do is ride up the front and back. This happens when one has no upper body control. Hence the reason I keep my babies in 1 piece sleepers for most of their first year. A potato sack would work just as well but would be more itchy.

For me, I'm just surviving until 1. my nips toughen up and 2. M decides to grace me with a real smile. And while those first smiles are nice, it is hard to make that initial warm fuzzy feeling last until the babies are 6 months old and can sit by themselves. At that point, life starts to get more fun.....they start trying to crawl and eventually trying to walk. Up until then, I feel like I'm just packing around a slightly more interesting worm who occasionally smiles.

Now I've only been a parent for 5.5 years, but thus far, my favorite age period is from 14 months (when they start walking) until about 3.5 years. Their language is exploding, they start developing a sense of self and a sense of humor, they are so easily entertained and distracted. Everything is deliciously new to them. The stages on either side of this "favorite stage" have their advantages, but I don't relish them the way I do that middle stage (where G currently is now).

I feel a little guilty writing this because I worry that I will seem ungrateful for my beautiful boy. But it's not that. It's that I'm sore and tired and, like most other people, I just have my favorite stages, and the newborn period ain't it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christmas planning

It is almost November, so I am beginning to stew a bit over the holidays and what to get the kids. I am really going to try to keep things at a minimum because they get so, so much from grandparents and aunts/uncles. Throw in mommy & daddy and Santa, and you have an insane amount of stuff. And, I, as the keeper and stower of the stuff, does not know what to do with more stuff.

So here is the game plan:

Each child will get 1 gift from Santa, and no more than 5 small things in their stockings.
Each child will get 1 gift from Mommy and Daddy.
Children will share 1-3 gifts that all can use (ok, M will use in a couple years, but whatev).

And while this seems reasonable, I know it is still too much stuff.

M will be getting a baby book from Santa, and an outfit for his 3-month picture in January from Mommy and Daddy. He is the uber easy one.

G will be happy with anything with wheels, or a puzzle of cars/trucks, or a book. He is really easy too.

N is another story altogether. She is over the Disney princesses and has a million Barbies, but she isn't really into anything else either. Since we don't have cable, she isn't into Hannah Montana or iCarly or anything of that nature. She has plenty of clothes. Both my mom and MIL are relying on me to give them ideas of what to get N, but since I don't know what to get her myself, I think this will be darn near impossible.

Aside from the difficulty of buying for her, I am also faced with the fact that she will be aware of how "even" things are between her and her brothers. For example, I would have Santa get G a little Matchbox car because G would totally be thrilled and "Santa" likes to be frugal, but N would say, "Why did Santa get me this and got G this dinky little car?"

And then there's my list of gift cards for N's teachers, and her bus driver, and her Daisy troop leader.

It is really hard being the leader of Santa's elf brigade for this household.

Happy 12 years

This Sunday, D and I will celebrate 12 years of married bliss, or whatever it is we've been doing for a dozen years.

We will be celebrating very similarly to how we did 2 years ago....sitting at home with yet another newborn and wondering when life will ever get "normal" again.

D and I have had our share of ups and downs, as has any married couple. The first six months of married life sucked. We, more or less, couldn't stand each other. Since we didn't cohabitate before marriage, I had to adjust to how much time D really did spend on the computer (23.5 hours per day). And D had to adjust to the fact that I wasn't his momma and wasn't going to do everything for him. Once we got our cats, and I started a Master's program, life got much better. We had distractions.

When I think back to that time, life seemed so simple, and it likely was. I spent time and energy trying to make our house into a home. It is funny to look at the blank slate that was our life in 1997-1999. Slowly life got more colorful and interesting (as did our house). We took many, many fun vacations. In our current dining room, I have prints from every place we visited prior to having kids: the Grand Canyon, Italy, Greece, Iceland, Savannah, GA., Toronto, Niagara Falls, Assateague Island.

Probably the next hardest time for us was in 2004, the year N was born. We both flipped the fuck out over having a baby. He didn't know what to do with a baby, and I didn't know what to do with a man who didn't know what to do with a baby. Plus, N had torticollis, so I had to do physical therapy on her. And get used to not being gainfully employed anymore. In the fall of that year, I had my nervous breakdown, and a month later D's dad died suddenly of a massive heart attack. We were both reeling for quite a while.

I guess life has settled down since then, although it seems like every year there has been some challenge or "life-altering event." D had emergency gallbladder surgery in 2006, my dad was diagnosed with melanoma in 2007, G was born in 2007, and then had tubes put in his ears in 2008. My dad had his colon removed earlier this year. Oh, yeah, and little Mr. Unexpected showed up 3 weeks ago.

In 12 years, we've had 2 houses, numerous refinances, a Corvette, a Contour, a Tribute, a Maxima and a Sienna. We've had 2 nieces and 2 nephews. We've replaced the washer and dryer that we got right after we married.

So lots of changes in 12 years. The best change has been creating our family....our 3 (wow) beautiful children. And 2 stupid cats (they get acknowledgment just for having been around so long).

My feelings about D have changed over the years too, but thankfully they are stronger, more loyal, more loving than they've ever been. When I get frustrated with him, I always think about the saying, Are you better off with him or without him?, and I know, without a doubt, that my life is tremendously better with D in my life.

Happy Anniversary, D. Wanna go for another year?

Monday, October 26, 2009

And the diagnosis is....

An infected c-section incision. To add some excitement to my already thrilling life.

I was able to see the nurse practitioner, and she gave me a script for Keflex, which she said should knock it out. But she wants to see me again on Friday to keep tabs on it.

It occurred to me last night in the shower that an infection could be the culprit, given the discoloration of the skin, and while that sounded a heck of a lot better than a hernia, my anxious brain ran into the woods thinking things like, "What if it's a drug-resistant strain that requires lancing the wound and intravenous medication?"

But I do feel tremendously better knowing what it is and being able to do something about it. Now if only the H1N1 vaccine would make its way to me via the local health department I might be able to really calm down. Of course, the threat of SIDS will be on my radar for another 3-5 months, but I can manage that one alright....or at least I managed it twice before.

And, today at least, nursing went more smoothly. I think (knock wood) M is getting the idea that
1. he doesn't need to smack the shit out of my breasts with his hands to get them to work
2. he needs to open his mouth wide if he wants to suckle.

Sweet relief.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And back again....

If there is one good thing about having recently had a baby, aside from having a beautiful baby, it is getting back in touch with "crazy" Carrie.

As anyone knows who has read my blog since Oct 7th, every post has been a wild mood swing. One day I feel good, like I'll do fine getting through this adjustment period. And then the next 3 posts are about how miserable everything is and how worried I am about all sorts of things about which I can do absolutely nothing.

This is what Carrie was like all the time prior to being medicated. Except I didn't have a blog, so only a couple people, like D and my mom, knew the full extent of my moods, my thoughts and anxieties. And they definitely thought there was something wrong with me.

It is a good thing to remember what anxiety feels like, if for no other reason than it reaffirms my empathy with others who suffer from it. There are some who might think I can "snap" myself out of it. This never worked and still doesn't. I can't pray my way out of it---tried that too, many, many times. Never tried drinking or doing drugs out of it because I don't believe in self-medicating.

Lord knows, I certainly wanted out of it. Wanted to escape my brain with all of its worst-case scenarios. Still do.

I know that even if I do have a hernia, it is likely mild and may not require surgery, or if it does, I can put it off until M is older and not breastfeeding every 15 seconds. I know that if my kids get the flu, I will be dragging their butts to the doctor for medicine asap, and in all likelihood, avoid any severe illness as a result. I know that I will eventually get used to this life change.

But just knowing this doesn't mean my brain really, truly believes it. It's like the anxious part of my brain is the world's biggest doubting Thomas, so no matter what I tell it, what statistics I throw at it, what reasonable argument I make, it doesn't believe it. It doesn't listen. It insists on going about its merry way, turning every possible scenario into those involving disease, death and pain.

Everyone has seen the cartoons of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, and anyone who suffers from anxiety (and has received some sort of therapy to help them cope with it) knows these figures all too well. Because that devil is doubt/fear/anxiety, and it is far more fierce, cunning and ruthless than the angel who tries to show you logic, reason, fact.

Right now, in these times of change, some days the angel gets the upper hand, but while it wins some skirmishes, the devil is currently winning the war.

Friday, October 23, 2009

When I get down, I really get down

And I don't mean in a funky, do the "hand jive" way. I mean when a low mood strikes, it takes me straight to Hades.

From the get-go, today was a pisser. G has a stuffy nose, so spent all morning whining and saying, "Nose tuffy," and wanting me to wipe it even though there was nothing to wipe. It was just all in his sinus cavity. D felt badly due to congestion although he did manage to attend Daddy & Doughnut Day with N at her school. My congestion was better, although my black psyche more than made up for any nasal improvements.

I remain riddled with anxiety over all the things I mentioned here the other day---the sore breasts from nursing (feeling like I am never gonna feel better), the incisional bulge that I'm gonna see the doctor about next week so I can stop worrying about what it is and just know what it is (and whether it will require another surgery), the shared cold amongst our family (and whether M will succumb).

I did get out alone to get my allergy shot and swing by Wal-Mart to get the kids' vitamins, but this was not a good idea. Despite being solo, I was still completely wiped out upon returning home. And tiredness coupled with anxiety are so not good bedfellows.

Coping with change, coping with discomfort, are things for which I do not have sufficient skills. I am floundering today, and that makes me feel hopeless and helpless. I am not above a toddler tantrum at the moment.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Week 2 postpartum odds & ends

  • Today was my first day driving since delivering on the 7th. I took M to the doctor for a weight check (7 lb, 13 oz on Oct 12th, and 8 lb, 5.2 oz today) and to cauterize his belly button (which was gross and oozy). And then I got really crazy and took the kids to the new Target (with the help of my momma), which completely wore my ass out. I am amazed at women who get back in the saddle quickly after delivering....of course, having a c-section is an altogether different ballgame than delivering vaginally.
  • I'm still anxious over any and all health-related issues. N was sick over the weekend and is still coughing (and starting with some nasal stuffiness). G started today with congestion and a bit of a runny nose. In the shower last night, I noticed a tiny, hard, slightly bulgy spot near my incision which I worry is a hernia (because despite being told not to lift anything above 10 lbs for 6 weeks, I do have to care for a toddler during the daytime, which means lift him into his crib). And then there is still no damned H1N1 vaccine anywhere NEAR my home. This fall and winter are gonna be the psychological death of me.
  • I really need a haircut, but that ain't gonna happen for awhile. Probably sometime around the time I venture out to Target again. Or the mall again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mind battles

It took me going to therapy for almost 3 years to understand that the crap I tell myself about myself inside my head is just that....crap.

I thought my thinking, my self-talk, was normal, like well-adjusted normal. But it wasn't.

It isn't normal/healthy to think you cannot handle anything.
It isn't normal/healthy to expect the absolute worst at every turn.
It isn't normal/healthy to worry over the most obscure, catastrophic situations imaginable.

And even though I am medicated and a much more sane person than I used to be, it is hard to undo years and years of negative, fear-laden self-talk. Even though I know from experience that, thus far, things usually never turn out to be as bad as I anticipate them to be. Nor am I as bad a person as I sometimes think myself to be.

When I say "bad person," I don't mean back-stabbing, lying, cheating, nasty person. I mean "bad person" as in mistake-making person. Somehow along my life path I developed this notion that I, Carrie, must be perfect. And this being perfect makes it very, very difficult to be human.

For example, today before my mom arrived to babysit me, I fussed at N and actually said "Dammit" when she kept flailing the comforter on the sickbed (the hide-a-bed) and tossing G's bowls of crackers all over the floor. I asked her to stop but she kept doing it, which is when I raised my voice.

Now reasonable Carrie knows that she is allowed to fuss, to become angry, frustrated, sad, whatever because I am human and a mom and going through all the normal postpartum bullshit. But infallible Carrie thinks that she shouldn't raise her voice at her kids or fuss at them when they do something accidental. And infallible Carrie has had many, many years to get the upper hand, although reasonable Carrie has learned to fight back.

So I apologized to N for fussing at her, which made me feel a little less ogre like. And then I felt guilty when I fussed at her about needing to rest when she was wanting to jump around (I hate that damn 24-hour fever free zone when the kid feels better but still needs to rest and so acts like a bonobo all day as a result of terrible boredom).

Although I physically took it easy and tried not to overexert myself on this first day solo (or somewhat solo since Nana was here), my psyche was terrifically busy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I don't think I can do this

I keep telling myself that most people in the civilized world (and uncivilized world, for that matter) have their children 2 or so years apart.

I, however, was never, ever, ever the type of person who wanted my children spaced any less than 3 years apart.

While I can see the potential benefits of closer spacing, I am not that good of a multi-tasker. I cannot handle the notion of caring for two very young children even when I am at my best, let alone recovering from a c-section.

Hence the reason I am DREADING hubby's return to work on Monday. I think all day today has been one long stewfest, a worrypalooza anticipating just how shitty the next few months of my life (or longer) will be.

And this is a first because usually I am biting at the bit for hubby to get the fuck away from me and go back to his office. But this time, I just want to cry everytime I think about him driving away to the sanity and quiet of his job. For 8+ hours. While I am alone at home. With two young kids for most of the day. And then a 3rd one for an hour and a half. With sore breasts.

I know that what a person tells himself/herself has a deep impact on his/her ability to cope, but I cannot fathom that I even will be able to cope. My self-talk has been hedgy, along the lines of, "I don't know how I'm gonna do this." And that is what I would consider my "positive" self-talk at the moment.

My mother and MIL will be coming in clips next week to essentially babysit I don't start to become depressed because this, too, is my M.O. following childbirth. Especially if I am unable to get out. And all things considered---the surgery, all the cooties going around---I am beyond hesitant to get out even though I know I desperately will need to.

It appears I won't be needing to work on my acceptance speech for Super Mom of the Year.
Wuss Mom of the Year.....
I'm a fuckin shoe-in.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A post about my breasts

There was a time in my life, from age 10 until maybe 17, when I spent a lot of time thinking about and noticing my breasts. Usually wanting them to be bigger.

At some point, I stopped thinking about them. Maybe when I realized that I had so many other stellar qualities that my mammaries weren't terribly critical. Har-har.

But now my breasts have a life of their own. Their own zip code. As they always have while I'm nursing my children.

I could add the following to my list of "shit I forgot about having a new baby:" Breast tenderness. Breast tingling whenever I get that filling up sensation. Breasts tingling some more whenever I let down. Breasts on fire whenever M latches on poorly, which at this rate is still quite often.

I am astounded by how excellent newborns are at swatting at sore nipples with their flailing arms as one tries to latch them on. I am equally astounded by how insistent they are about falling sound asleep whenever one tries to swaddle their arms to make latching on easier and not so darn dangerous.

So, once again, I am spending a lot of time thinking about and noticing my breasts.
Good times.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Postpartum health anxiety

My modus operandi after having a baby is to brood over potentially life-threatening health issues. My OCD goes into hyper-drive.

After N's birth, I convinced myself I had breast cancer when, in fact, I had eczema of the nipple which cleared itself once I stopped nursing and got my anxiety under control. If anxiety can feel like a heart attack, you know it can do all sorts of other psychosomatic damage, including to one's mammaries.

After G's birth, I didn't freak too much about anything in particular, at least that I can recall. I do have a pre-cancerous patch on my arm that always, always starts to worry me following the birth of a child, so I'm sure I stewed a bit over it. I'm stewing over it at this moment as I write this.

Now with the birth of M and the H1N1 epidemic in full-swing, I am terrified that all three of my children will come down with it and at least one will die. Probably not M because he is getting all those good breastfeeding antibodies and white-blood cells. One of the other two. A thought that obviously makes my mind and heart seize up in paralysis.

Irrational? Perhaps, but that is how anxiety rolls......
There was a time I thought thinking like this was, dare I say it.....normal.......

I can tell myself that statistically, the pediatric deaths, given the widespread nature of this strain of flu, are miniscule. But that doesn't negate the fear.

So what to do?

At this juncture, nothing besides washing hands alot, and staying at home a lot (which I would do anyway given my surgery). And keep taking my Lexapro. And talking myself down from the ledge of panic. And call a therapist if things get too scary in my head. And get the frackin vaccine as soon as possible (because for me and my OCD, the benefits of a shot far outweigh any risks associated).

Monday, October 12, 2009

I forgot all this shit......

I forgot how it is possible to be so tired you really feel like you might die, literally die, from exhaustion.

I forgot how much breastfeeding can hurt (when you've got uber-sensitive skin and a newborn who is learning what to do).

I forgot how much mommy guilt one feels in the early days post-partum, especially when the 2-year-old clings to you after your being gone for 3 days in the hospital.

I forgot just how often hormones can make a postpartum mom want to cry, for no apparent reason.

I forgot what it's like to do tag-team eating.

I forgot how big of an adjustment it is bringing a new little person into a family.

We are in survival-mode. Damage-control.

Those things being said, I am so, so thankful to be home with my family, to have such good friends bringing us meals, to know that M is pooping like gangbusters and has gained 2 ounces since Saturday, to have a breastpump at the ready to ease my aching milk-laden breasts.


G has been telling me, "Put it back," whenever I've got my breast exposed to nurse M. Once I cover it with my bra, he is fine. Apparently, he isn't terribly enlightened about breastfeeding and considers it indecent.

Tonight, G sat next to me while I was nursing M, leaned his head on M, and said, "I love you." Melt my heart cute!!!

N asked me six questions, all related to M, most of which I cannot recall, although #3 was, "Do you think he will like me?"

So even in the throes of chaos, there is wonder and joy and delight.
But mostly chaos.

Friday, October 9, 2009

First 48 hours......

And I can't seem to remember that this new boy's name is not G. I keep saying, "Wanna nurse, G?" and "Is G asleep?" (to D when he's holding him). Poor M....hand-me-down clothing and toys, a bedroom to share with his brother, and he won't even have his own identity because his mother is simply unable to recall his legal name.

Despite this, I am completely in love. M has a big round face and looks like a chipmunk. The hospital photographer came around this morning and got some extremely cute pics of him (which should be on the our365 website in a couple days).

He is a great little nurser. I guess with him being my 3rd and having all purpose nipple ointment from the get-go, I am finding nursing to be quite pleasant. There is something so wonderful about nursing a newborn. This sounds totally dorky, but there is something very empowering for me to breastfeed, to provide my baby with all his nutritional needs.

I had a little bout of sadness this morning, after talking to G on the phone. He has been handling my absence very well, but will talk to himself and say, "Mommy be back." I wonder how he'll react once I am back at home. N, I know, will be thrilled to see both me and M.

So I am going to enjoy the remainder of today. Relaxing and healing and taking occasional walks on the maternity floor.

Before I am officially inducted into the role of 3 times a mom.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My bonus baby

I suspect the Duggar family might agree with me that no matter how many children you have, the birth of each one is it's own slice of heaven, a time when one is awash with the mystery and miracle of it all.

Yesterday at 10:27 a.m., I was awash in tears that steamed up my glasses. My son, MDL, was born, weighing in at 8 lb., 4 oz. and measuring 20.5 inches in length. In terms of facial features, he looks like N and G when they were newborns. Except his hair is dark brown, not red, and his eyes are grey, not sky blue.

It felt strange to walk into the operating room, as opposed to being wheeled in as I was last time. The birth was uneventful, other than me puking at the beginning (which is what I did with G's birth), and the doctor thinking she may have accidentally knicked my bladder (my bladder is fine, but I did pee bright blue for awhile after they did a wash to ensure my bladder didn't have any holes in it.

M screamed and fussed while the nurses were cleaning him up in the operating room, something N and G never did. And his apgar scores were great: 9 and 9 (so take that to those who blather about the harmful effects of antidepressants during pregnancy). He is already showing himself to be a little barracuda when it comes to nursing.

He is simply devine. To borrow from a friend's blog title, the 3rd time's a charm.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pumpkin picking while pregnant

This past Saturday, I took the kids and my cousin, Devin, to a nearby farm to go on a hayride and pick pumpkins. Devin is a photographer, and we have been trying to do some maternity pictures but between busy weekends and unpleasant weather, we were down to the wire. So she suggested we do a few maternity shots as well as just some fun pics of the kids.

The shots she took turned out beautifully, I think. Far more artistic than anything I am ever able to get. I have her site linked to mine, Flashy Photography, in case you'd like to see her other work.

Devin did me another service, beyond the photographs. As of late, I had been feeling kinda pathetic in my mommy duties until she reminded me that at under a week until delivery I was going on a hayride and pumpkin picking with my children, which is hardly anything to sniff at. It's that objectivity that makes for good pictures and the good sense to recognize when someone is doing a pretty good job, all things considered.

Love you, Dev.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The end is nigh

More or less, my thoughts and feelings about this week's planned delivery of baby #3 have been going something like this:

1. OMFG!!!!! I can barely handle 2 kids, and now we're gonna throw another one in this stew? Holy hell!!!

2. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (It is nearly unbearable for me to sit anywhere, which means I must lay on my side. And side-laying almost always results in a doze.)

3. OMFG! I cannot handle being pregnant 1 second longer. I am so frackin uncomfortable. I feel like arms, legs and fingers are gonna poke through my skin any minute.

4. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

5. Some combination of #1 and #3.

I asked D this morning if he is excited about the baby coming, and he gave me this look, which pretty much matches my thinking about this baby coming. Now that I am 2 days out, the reality of surgical delivery, postpartum pain, caring for 3 children is almost overwhelming.

When I think of "excitement," I think of feeling super positive about something with no or only the most minimal "worry." And there have been maybe 5 things in my life that I have been no holds barred excited about. Most of those were vacations in our life before kids when I knew I could just let go and relax and do whatever I wanted to do. I was really excited to go to Italy and Greece and Iceland.

But everything else, from college graduation to marriage to having children, especially as the D-Day loomed ever closer, was mostly trepidation. And that is where I am right this second.

G has been very, very clingy to Momma, and to some extent N has too, but that just may be because this whole fall break from school has thrown her routine off kilter. And while they will just have to deal for a bit while I am in hospital and during my recovery, it makes me feel a little guilty.....a little like a negligent mom, although I know this is stupid. Hell, I'm going to deliver their sibling, not taking off for Vegas to drink and gamble their college savings away with various male consorts.

I guess due to my lack of energy I have felt like barely a "good enough" mom, so what lies ahead seems to only make this situation worse. But I keep reminding myself this is temporary. I will adjust. They will adjust. This is just temporary.

When Wednesday comes I will be glad....because then I just have to deal. And dealing is so much easier than worrying about dealing.