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Friday, April 22, 2016

days, and then days

Those first few weeks man. It's like you are slogging through a mire. A fire swamp, if you will.

Side note: We tried to watch The Princess Bride with our kids the other day. I'm quoting every line, laughing, etc. and my kids were like NOT into it AT ALL, especially little man. What gives? Maybe the romance element? In any case. I was bummed.

So now, newborn days, we're out of the fire swamp, I think, finally.

Hopefully not headed down to the pit of despair...

Ha ha.

Wait.

Woah.

Too much reality in that statement.

The pit of despair is where I ended up after my last newborn weeks...floundering with little Green, in the holidays, too sad and overwhelmed to see straight.

You know what?

I don't feel it this time.

I think I also feel much more at peace about the low down days. You know?

Some days with a newborn, you are on top of the world. He sleeps! For three hours! Not in the wrap or in your arms! You sweep and clean and make dinner!

Other days you cry. Three times. You yell at the kids. You fail at everything you try. You think I am terrible at this! And then you eat chocolate, watch Greys Anatomy and go to bed.

But this is the difference, for me, at the moment anyhow.

On the days where I cry three times and eat chocolate and watch Grey's Anatomy I go to bed not feeling hopeless, not in the depths of despair, like I have in the past, but instead, knowing that I tried my damnedest to do everything I need to do in my day, and just because I didn't doesn't mean tomorrow will be the same. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is the day you storm the castle, take on thirty men, and live to tell the tale.

And also.

Also.

You know what? Scratch that. Not that tomorrow is a new day, and you can do better then, because you know what? The to do lists don't define you, as a woman, as a person on this planet. They don't define me. And man, I have done this in the past. Its still a struggle to be honest. But I can't let it.

Not sweeping the floor after every meal (damn ants!) doesn't make you a terrible person, a failure.

Not answering all the emails, making all the follow up calls, writing the new novel, planning the perfect school day - heck, planning your school day at all.

None of this makes you worthy, worthwhile.

Kick up your feet, drink an afternoon iced coffee, crumple up the to do list, nurse the baby (ahhhh, oxytocin!) and let your day, be your day, imperfections and all.

You dont NEED to tackle the to do list with renewed vigor tomorrow to make up for today's 'inadequacies.'

This day of studying spelling words, reading the story of Passover, and taking the kids out for an extended swim, after answering a couple emails.

All that?

That is enough.

Even staggering to the couch with a headache and a crabby newborn while the kids Netflix it up all morning.

That?

Also worth it.

Also worthwhile. Also worthy.

Because you, mama, are worthwhile. You are doing a hard hard thing, this mommying thing.

Kiss them. Tuck them in at night. And know that that is enough.

You know what that is? Grace. Grace for yourself, mama.

You don't have to conquer all the things, do all the things, be all the things for everyone. And this is for all mamas, not just those with newborns. Be yourself, as a mom, bad days and all. because they aren't bad days, they are just days. And tomorrow will be more days, with different things, maybe more things, but still, they are just days.

Days, and then days. Filled with grace.



ETA: PPD is a for real legit thing. Chemicals. In your brain. Doing nasty unfair things. Telling you you arent worthy. And no matter how filled with grace for yourself you are it IS REAL. And sometimes, there isnt a dang thing you can do to "be more positive" and get through it. People told me this. Loving people. And I still floundered in it, for months. I think partially because of nearly losing Little Green in birth, partially because I am predisposed to depression and experience it from time to time, in very real ways (like through the long MN winters, for example!) For you mamas going through it. I feel you. And I may end up having some rough months yet, it can kick in after two, three, six months after birth, so I write posts like this, to myself, to remind myself of these thoughts in those months to come. You are worthy. You can do this thing. Be graceful to you.



And now, for a million pictures of my baby. Because on the days where I feel unsuccessful at 'all the things' it always helps to take a million pictures of these smiling faces and be reminded of the task we are up to in these days - days and then days - the mommying task. And how worth it it all is, and how worthy we are at the task.














This is on the road up to Waimea a few weeks ago.







the below shots are all this morning...














Friday, April 15, 2016

back in the saddle, again

So I've had a certain level of slacking off over the past two months. 

Clearly. 

There's only so much a mama can do. 

And for me all I could handle was feeding children, laying on the coach not losing my mind, and getting some school in, occasionally.

So now here we are, a month into this four kid thing. So I figure time to get back at it. 

I even made a schedule of our week -with craft days and nature walks and trips out to do things. 

We shall see how long it lasts.

My mom and dad left yesterday. We had such a great visit with them. Having someone bring you a cup of tea while you're nursing? There is nothing like that. Especially when it's your own mom.

Rather than sit around feeling despondent this morning, while children whine at me about iPad and TV, I figured let's start easy, let's start small! A nature walk! Out of our own front door! So I packed up the kids backpacks with nature journals and water bottles and we headed up the mountain. Well, volcano, actually. 

And the baby slept in the stroller. 

And the kids learned two new Hawaiian words - mauka, which means the mountain side and makai, which means ocean side. So when we walked the narrow road running along the side of the mountain above our neighborhood and I shouted "mauka" they'd run to the mountain side of the road. And yes, people use these words to give directions. We live in the makai side of our road etc. because you can pretty much always see the ocean from wherever you are.

And we talked about the farm we will have some day with fruit trees and a cat and a dog and Little Misses own bedroom and then Little Green requested if she could please have her own hot tub. Ha.

We explored the Hawaii you don't see in the tourist books. The Hawaii with cows and sleepy pastures, hot already in the morning sun, and tangles of bright flowers and and wild fruit trees and tall grasses and big beautiful trees - that are not palms. 

I'm beginning to love this Hawaii. This real Hawaii.

And the baby woke up so I put him in the wrap. And little Green's legs hurt so I let her ride in the stroller. 

And we came home hot and tired. But we did it. And the kids said we should do that every morning, they had such fun. 

Creative, fun, out and about mama rises from the dust. She lives!







I found little mans ideal schedule on our white board this morning (at zero dark thirty hours when baby woke up) HA!!

My ideal schedule, below. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

the fourth baby at four weeks

Four weeks. Amazing how much more quickly these four weeks went than the previous anxiety ridden four weeks waiting for baby. 

So I sit here now. This bundle in my arms. As the 9yr old boy skims the pool, the girls arguing over who gets what floatie. 

Regular life. 

In the past, post baby, I have found myself in a crisis of identity. No longer "lady expecting a baby" who am I now? What is there to look forward to?? 

Not this time though. I feel, now, solidly myself. This woman, with a baby, and three other kids, getting on with the business of living. Yes it's a more chaotic life at the moment. Yes I lose my shit still at silly things (no seriously just PICK UP THE PLAY DOUGH!) But, I know things will settle out, settle down. 

And it will happen so quickly. And these newborn days, these days of The Last Baby, will be gone. 

I find myself holding each moment out to look at it, examine it. Remember. 

The tiny fleshy feet to kiss. The sweet newborn breath to smell. The tiny sighs after greedily nursing, my own little suckling pig. His look of delight as he watches the smiling cooing faces of his big sister. 

And the 9 yr old dumps a scooped up slug from the net at his screeching sisters feet and I remember his tiny sighs, his sweet breath, his bitty fleshy feet, marveling now at his strong tanned arms, his quick retorts, his complex emotions. 

So quickly. I am reminded. It goes so quickly. 

And I look down again in my arms at this bitty boy, wondering who he is, who he will become, but reveling in his quiet tiny sighs, for now content in his mamas arms. 






Wednesday, March 23, 2016

how to postpartum like a pro

I half heartedly listened as the nurse went on about discharge instructions.

I was dressing little baby V.

Those toes! That little chin!

Suddenly she caught my attention...

"But you are an experienced mom, you know this so..."

Wait, what???

I'm an experienced mom???

I mentally turn around, looking for my mom or older sister in the room. THEY are experienced. ME?? I'm just a hack! I'm just really good at pretending like I know what I am doing while googling the shit out of every little thing that comes up! (A sampling of my google history in the past few days alone: "jaundice at 10 days old" "jaundice when to worry" "baby eye color" "regain birth weight time frame" "estrogen spike post partum" "essential oils for thrush")

I am VERY VERY GOOD at faking it.

But then. Okay, yea, fine. I have been exhausted for ten years now. SERIOUSLY. A DECADE.

That has to count for something right?

I guess.

Apparently. It makes me "experienced."

Well, this time around at least I decided to do myself right in the two weeks postpartum that are so so freaking important for new moms (especially after having dealt with postpartum depression following Little Green's birth). Two weeks now drawing to a close. SNIFF SNIFF.

So, I thought I would share. For those of you (like my baby sister!) who find yourselves crying postpartum tears into lukewarm coffee in the coming months...

HOW TO POSTARTUM LIKE A PRO


1. Kick the kids out. (Not the baby. The baby needs to stay.) AND anything else stressful...

I honest to God told my children for the first few days. Please, come in. Snuggle. Kiss the baby. Tell me about your day. But I swear if you are coming in here to complain or whine to me about anything...GET OUT. GO ASK DADDY. I DO NOT CARE WHOSE TURN IT IS ON THE IPAD.

Seriously. And it was the best.

Of course, it only lasted for a few days. But those days needed to be warm and fuzzy and nice. You owe it to yourself.

This also goes for work email.

DON'T CHECK IT. I mean seriously. Not at all. Nothing stressful. Turn off the news. Don't look at your bank balance. Don't think about all the millions of little things. Think of your postpartum bedroom - and yes, STAY IN BED - as your little nest, you and baby's cocoon. DO NOT go outside the cocoon. Physically or mentally.

Its super hard for me to do this one. I know what the state of the living room floor looks like right now. And yet. And yet.

Choose not to care.

The news. The bank. The work. The mess.

It will all be there when you reluctantly emerge in just a few short weeks.

In the words of our dear Queen Elsa.

LET IT GO.



2. STAY IN BED.

For a few days at least. Ask your helper to bring you coffee. Lunch. Snacks. Reading material. Water. (Drink water EVERY TIME YOU NURSE)

Dont be ashamed to need this. You and baby do need it.

Those first few days set the tone for your bonding relationship, hold him close, take pictures of his little ears. Cocoon inward, together.

If people want to bring a meal...SAY YES. If they want to stay and do the dishes. SAY YES.

And if you venture out of your cocoon after a few days and life overwhelms you (I cried four times yesterday) retreat back inward.

Today I have blogged. Written some emails. Hugged the kids. Read them some books. And stayed in bed.



3. NURSE. NURSE. NURSE.

I write about nursing here because its what I know. I know many moms who I love and admire who bottle fed for a variety of reasons. But I know breastfeeding, so that is what I write about.

Now that that is out of the way.

Nursing is hard. At first.

Gather up pillows, a full water bottle, and really just work at it. The thing that will happen, at first, is to get engorged. And baby is too tiny to gobble up fast enough, and he chokes, and you are in pain, and then you cry. Dude. Four times I've done this now. And yes. Every time. Here is my advice, for what its worth. DONT try and pump out the excess. This just cues your body to keep making more. Wear a good fitting nursing bra, take a hot shower, let the excess drip out a little. Tough it out, just for a day or two. Then your body will regulate. Baby will figure it out. And it will get easier.

I promise.

Thrush. Yes. Every time. I have, apparently, just an issue with this. Plus the antibiotics I had to take in labor this time around. (GBS+ SIGH)

Again. Got the creams and etc. But really, it just takes time to get over. (I swear by taking a ton of probiotics and giving dabs to baby before feeding. He is already over it...)

All that to say. This is your time, your window to figure it out. I totally made use of the visiting nurse option and a lactation consultant from the hospital for little man. We had the WORST time figuring it out. Nipple shields and tears and cracks and thrush and everything. It was awful.

Learn the C-hold nursing position. Baby in a football hold, using the opposite arm from the breast you are nursing from, you holding your breast with your hand shaped in a C.

Learn to breastfeed lying down. Baby in the crook of your arm, you lying on your side. Seriously. Figure this out and life just got a TON easier. I religiously sat up to feed with little man for weeks, months. Once little miss came along, the sidelying thing, plus co-sleeping, it just totally changed my postpartum experience!

Don't time out your breastfeeding. Just feed baby on demand.

Did I ever confess to you how I made an EXCEL SPREADSHEET to document feedings (and naps! and poops!) with little man?????

Oh my gosh I totally did.

Feed when baby is hungry. If baby cries but doesnt want to nurse, well, see point four.



4. Learn baby's cues

I saw this thing on Oprah once (on youtube, no I do not watch Oprah. HA.) about baby crying cues. And dammit if they weren't totally totally on point!

Baby crying while making a "Neh, neh, neh" sound = hunger.

Baby crying with grunts at the end = working on a poo.

Baby crying with gurgles = stuck burp

Seriously. Google it. Amazing.

But, your baby will have his own cues. My guy wakes up crying. I pull him to the breast. He pulls back. Oh, yes, you fell asleep nursing. You have a burp stuck! I pull him on top of my belly in a sitting position (I am lying down) and hold his floppy chin in my hand and gently pat his back. Yep. Burp. And I discovered at one point that if you gently massage baby's lower back and they wriggle in discomfort it means they have a stuck burp! Seriously. (FINE, I think dada discovered that one...)

This postpartum time is to discover baby's secrets. Treasure it. USE IT WISELY!


5. Let your body heal.

So, you just went through a lot. Your belly is empty. Your breasts are full. Your shoulders ache. Your hips are slowly coming back together, uterus still contracting.

Its all A LOT.

Go easy on your body.

Some gentle stretches. Some pelvic tilts. Breathe. KEGELS.

That is it.

Some tinctures I like. Valerian. Just a few drops. Takes the edge off for tension headaches, stress. Also Motherwort (helps with general anxiety and postpartum relaxing) and Cramp bark (a must, seriously helps with postpartum cramps, along with a rice sock.) And a few tablets of Arnica to help with muscle aches (they dissolve under your tongue, take every four hours).

Dont think about skinny jeans. Please. For the love of all that is holy. Stay in those yoga pants.

Eat nourishing food. Your baby isnt depending on you from the inside anymore, but he is still depending on you.

Eat lots of chocolate.

Rest.



6. Emerge with grace...

When it comes time to emerge...do so with grace.

Grace for yourself.

You are going to cry. You are going to feel overwhelmed. Retreat back to the bedroom for a few hours. Nurse and sit on the couch for the afternoon. Let the kids watch too much netflix. You can crack the whip later. Now is not the time.

Now is when you feel tempted. Oh, I can host a playdate! Sure! Oh, lets take the kids to the park, and the library, and out for ice cream! Oh, I can do that meeting sure, I mean, its only three hours right?? Hmmmm.....I wonder if those skinny jeans fit.....

NOOOOO!

Dont do any of these things!!!

(This is where I am currently at...feeling tempted...so I am preaching to myself...)

Grace for those around you.

So dada is amazing. Kids. Work. Cleaning. Dishes. But so far, upon attempting to emerge from magical Babyland cocoon, I have gone on a rampage of "Look at the floor! The counter is covered with ants! Kids hang up your swimsuits! GIRLS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BEDROOM??"

I did this for several days in a row, upon trying to emerge. Not very graceful toward husband and kids trying to give me and baby this space.

Today I say is a new day. Strong coffee.  Kids engaged in activities other than Netflix. Baby and I on the couch, nursing, still in pajamas. Maybe later I'll try him in the wrap for the first time and sort baby clothes. Take the kids for their swim while baby gets some anti-jaundice sunshine.

Today. I postpartum with grace. For me. Dada. Kids. And baby.

But first. More coffee.
















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