Monday, September 19, 2016

It's been a while

As my journal can attest my writings are usually Insomnia induced.  I know it's been a while since I've sat down and dared to release my brain on the world but tonight I needed to write.  I stopped writing after my son was born because I felt like I should write what happened, the birth story.  But I didn't want to, it was so hard to live with all of the emotions that were happening and make sense of them.  As with most of my life I just wanted it to go away so I pretended like it didn't happen but it didn't go away.  In fact most of it is still very vivid in my memory and still creeps up to haunt me in the night, easier to think about with time but still not ok.

I could have probably gotten away with still writing about other things going on in my life and not talking about it as some people do and people would have understood that it was too personal or I just didn't want to talk about it but everything else in my life I would describe the same way.  Too personal and I don't want to talk about it.  So I didn't for two years.  But now I'm pregnant again and emotions are high and I need more than I am getting from life right now.  I need these things to not be inside of me where the baby is.  I want this baby to feel all of the joy and good things it's older brother felt when he was inside of me but I can't.  I don't know if prepartum depression is a thing but if it is I think I've got it.

I was so excited for the first one, I was on the internet every week or two looking up the development of the baby.  What fruit are they going to compare it to this time? I felt sometimes like I was growing a grocery store not a baby.  When does it's heart start beating, when does it grow fingernails, when will I feel it move?  Will it have hair when it's born, all it's fingers and toes, what color eyes will it have, will it look like me?  I wrote regular updates to my brother Tim who was on a mission at the time.  My only worry was that I would somehow have to go through labor alone.  I was completely confident in my ability to handle pregnancy, labor, and being a new mother.

My husband and I picked a birthing center instead of a hospital and he went to every single appointment with me.  I shunned birthing classes telling myself if my grandmother could give birth to six children (presumably) without taking any classes then I didn't need to either, that if I was in tune with my body everything would be fine because this is what my body was made to do.  The midwives suggested practicing handling pain by holding ice in my hand for as long as possible but I thought, "I really hate ice and cold and that's not what labor is going to feel like anyway so what's the point?"

Things were so up and down I thought often, "I should write this down, I could write a book about everything that's happened."  But then the day came when my son was born and I didn't even want to tell my friends and family what happened let alone write a book that potentially millions of strangers would read.  I found the seemingly innocent question of, "Did you have a C-section or a natural birth?" (or other variations) extremely hard to answer especially when it was asked right after or preceding the question of how big my son was when he was born.  I never realised before then what a personal and potentially intrusive question that could be and vowed to never ask anyone that question myself.  Even harder was the news we received 2 weeks after he was born.  The crucial, life changing news that the hospital neglected to tell us before we checked out.  When they pulled Samuel out of me I had torn...a lot.  I forget the names of things now but the tissue had torn 3 centimeters on both sides of the cut, the arteries on either side, and the muscle on my right side.

Our midwife ordered us not to try to have more kids for at least 2 years.  In 2 years it would heal as much as it was going to and things would be safer after that.  Because of that and what Marley went through in the hospital that day he never wanted to have any kids ever again, it was too scary for him.  I didn't know, I certainly felt that way then 2 weeks postpartum but felt it was waay to early to even discuss things like a second child.

About a month before Samuel turned two we found out I was pregnant.  I had been really stressed out lately because I was in the process of trying to get a new job and feeling really unhappy with life.  I thought I was late because of stress.  It had happened all the time when I was in college but the last time I was late I was pregnant so I took the test so I could have one less thing to be stressed out about.  But it came up positive...I didn't know how to feel, Marley and I ended up staying up late that night talking and crying.  If not for the circumstances it would have been really nice, Marley and I hadn't opened up to each other like that in a really long time.

Unfortunately, one of the first things he did was look up the plan B pill to see what the rules were for taking it.  After that he told me he was all in but then immediately asked if there was something else I could take to end the pregnancy, somehow thinking that there would be something that could be done that wouldn't be an abortion.  I feel betrayed by the man who once promised to support me in everything I do.  Last time I was afraid of doing it alone but I wasn't because he was always there through everything giving me strength and support.  I've since learned, but am still working on, to ask for what I need from people so I figured next time around I for sure wouldn't be alone because I would have more than my husband to support me, but instead I'm more alone than ever because I don't have him this time.  And that's the worst part of all, more than the huge pile of fears I have this time around, is not knowing that he's going to be there for me.

There was no discussion this time around about Midwives, Doulas, Birthing Center, Home Birth, or Hospital.  Marley assumed it would be in a hospital because he's too afraid of doing anything else now.  I've realised there's no point because I can't afford the Birthing Center this time around anyway.  But I'm scared.  With Samuel there was no time out to figure out why he wasn't able to come down into the birth canal so I don't know if it is likely to happen again or if there's anything I can do to do it differently this time.

We waited a full week this time before telling anybody about it and I had a really hard time telling my family about it and haven't actually told anyone besides them.  Marley has told people and I haven't denied it when people have found out and asked me about it but I'm not excited.  I haven't been on the website even once to find out what my baby is growing this week.  I don't feel connected to or concern for the baby except for what all these negative emotions I have about it are doing to it.  I haven't picked a hospital or even a doctor for that matter and even though I'm 15 weeks in haven't been to a single appointment.

At first I was ignoring it hoping it would just go away, knowing that if I told people that would be admitting it was real.  I rode roller coasters and felt guilty afterwards, then hopeful, then even more guilty.

My life is good right now if I can forget that I'm pregnant.  I got a new job that I enjoy and I actually get to see Marley more than twice a week.  Samuel is in swimming and tumbling classes and seems to love everything about life.  He's finally sleeping through the night...I'm not.

I take my prenatal vitamins and try to do something productive around the house at least once a week, that's all I can handle right now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Josh Groban

I decided today was going to be a Josh Groban day because I haven't listened to his music in a long time and he's one of my favorite singers. One of the songs that came up on the iPod was the song "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)". This is one of my favorite Josh Groban songs and I realized that it also fits really well with my last post so I just wanted to put some of the lyrics down here for your enjoyment.

Don't give up
it's just the weight of the world
 when your heart's heavy
I, I will lift it for you

Don't give up
because you want to be heard
if silence keeps you
I, I will break it for you

everybody wants to be understood
well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
don't give up
because you are loved

Don't give up
it's just the hurt that you hide
when you're lost inside
I'll be there to find you

don't give up
because you want to burn bright
if darkness blinds you
I will shine to guide you

everybody wants to be understood
well I can hear you
everybody wants to be loved
don't give up
because you are loved
you are loved

And here's the music video if you are a visual or audio person:

I also want to share his song "Galileo (Someone Like You)" because it's my current favorite of his songs. The chorus goes like this:

Who puts the rainbow in the sky
who lights the starts at night
who drempt up someone so divine
someone like you and made them mine

And the last one I want to put is probably one that you have never heard before but I really like it.  Every time I listen to it it makes me want to go protest something.

Weeping by Josh Groban

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Baby Stuff

I've been reading a lot of baby stuff lately: websites (such as, books (the one I'm reading now is Parenting the Fussy Baby and High-Need Child, William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N.), and blogs.  There is a lot of information out there about babies and how to take care of them.  I'm grateful for the information that is there, especially when something happens that seems like I should be worried about it, for instance Samuel poops while I'm changing his diaper and it's just green bubbles, and then Marley Google's it and says that it's caused by a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance and there's actually nothing to worry about.  I'm confused by the information out there I've read that says one thing, then later contradicts itself.  I'm angered by the information I read that is like the book I ended up just skimming through (Child Behavior : from the Gesell Institute of Human Development) that was full of passive aggressive language saying that experts are now saying you should do such and such (usually good advice) but they write it in a way that makes me think they don't really believe you should do that.  I'm horrified by the information I read like:
The cry of habit is one of the most difficult to recognize. These habits are formed by indulging infants in various ways. Some children cry to be held, some to be carried, some to be rocked, some for a light in the nursery, some for a rubber nipple or some other thing to suck. The extent to which this kind of crying may be indulged in, even very young infants, is surprising, and it explains much of the crying of early childhood. The fact that the cry ceases immediately when the child gets what it wants is diagnostic of the cry from habit. The only successful treatment of such cases is to allow the child to 'cry it out' once or twice and then the habit is broken. (Diseases of Infancy and Childhood, Dr. Emmett Holt)
Since when is needing love, comfort, and warmth a bad habit we need to break?  The author goes on to say that, "On admission to Babies' Hospital very young infants almost invariably cry a great deal for the first two days...The mothers were forbidden to quiet the infants by taking them up, and after two or three days' discipline the crying ceased and peace and order were again restored."  This is the man who invented the "cry it out" method (in 1897), not because it was good for babies but because he didn't like their noise.  The worst part is that people still believe that this is a good thing to do, even after studies have shown that this method in daily life usually increases babies crying and when it does actually lessen crying it's because the babies have given up looking for comfort, not because they no longer need it.
Babies who are "trained" not to express their needs may appear to be docile, compliant, or "good" babies. Yet these babies could be depressed babies who are shutting down the expression of their needs, and they may become children who don't ever speak up to get their needs met and eventually become the highest-need adults. (Sears)
I hope nobody reading this has been pressured into taking bad baby care advice.  Even though I've only been doing this myself for the last 7 weeks and I don't have a high-need baby, Samuel is more like a medium-need baby, I understand the need to feel like you are doing things right and that your baby is "normal".  While I was pregnant I learned the importance of listening to my body and I've discovered it's just as important now as it was then.  I was given some advice which sounded good at first but I later realized that it was not going to work for my family.  I'm glad that the book I'm reading now is so supportive of me listening to my instincts and gives advise for parenting and soothing with that in mind.
A mother is biologically programmed to give a nurturant response to her newborn's cries and not to restrain herself. Fascinating biological changes take place in a mother's body in response to her infant's cry. ...These feelings help you love your baby. Mothers, listen to the biological cues of your body when your baby cries rather than to advisers who would tell you to turn a deaf ear. These biological happenings explain why it's easy for those advisers to say such a thing. They are not biologically connected to your baby. Nothing happens to their hormones when your baby cries. (Sears)
I learned that while my ears can't always tell the difference between my baby's cries my body usually can and that by listening to my instincts I can more easily figure out what he needs, and have also discovered nonverbal cues to how my baby is feeling.  There have been a few times where I wasn't able to attend to Samuel's needs right away and I heard the change in his cry, every single time I hear that other cry I start to cry too.
When we began writing about babies, we interviewed hundreds of mothers about their views on the cry-it-out advice. Ninety-five percent of the mothers told us that this advice went against their basic intuition. It made them feel "not right." We concluded that 95 percent of mothers couldn't be wrong. (Sears)
 I'm glad that even though it may not be the most publicized view, it appears to be the most universal view that it is best to comfort your baby.  In the book I'm reading it has lots of quotes from parents of high-need babies that tell about their different experiences.  Here's one that I found to be pretty profound in how it describes our society in relation to babies' needs.
As a result of all of this, we now find that popular messages about parenting today make us profoundly sad. At what point in this country did we start putting such an outrageous premium on independence? We seem to want small babies to be "easy" and extremely self-sufficient. Is it because no one has time to parent anymore, or is it because we've forgotten that it's okay (even necessary) to need other people? We see articles and talk show segments every day promoting "training" six-week-old breastfed babies to sleep through the night; new gadgets that simulate human contact; day care; early weaning -- it goes on and on. Is it any wonder that we are becoming a society of angry, addicted, and lonely people? It seems to us that the key to solving many of the big, complicated social problems is for parents to be able to devote themselves to the parenting of their children, to raising children who are so full of rightness and self-esteem that as adults they have no need for unhealthy behaviors to fill up the spaces where love should have been.
I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, although I would like to note that not everyone has the same reasons for putting their child in day care.  I myself will be returning to work soon, due to necessity not because I want to, and there will be times when schedules cannot be worked out that I will have to put Samuel in day care.  Several years ago I worked at Sea World for two summers and I saw many parents there with parenting styles I did not agree with.  They seemed to be more concerned with having fun themselves or "getting their money's worth" out of the day that they were completely ignoring their child's needs.  I feel like if you are concerned with the money you spent on admission and don't want to take your children home, take them home for an hour or two, get everybody a nap, and then come back.  There was one thing I did actually agree with in the book I skimmed Child Behavior, it said that you should try to figure out why your child is having a tantrum and then work to avoid those situations in the future so that it doesn't happen again.  This is similar to what it says in the book Parenting that if you have a child who is fussy at the same time everyday, find out why so you can avoid that or prepare the baby before hand by doing lots of soothing activities.

As further argument against the cry-it-out method, I offer this:
Consider how you would feel if you had a desperate message to convey, and your previously trusted significant other stopped listening. You're delivering what you feel is a very important message, at lease to you. You need some help, yet the one to whom you are talking ignores you. How would you feel? You might conclude that what you are saying has little or no value to the listener. You might further conclude that your listener doesn't care about your message, or about you. (Sears)
When I was reading this for the first time in the book it made me think of my relationship with my husband and how ignoring messages from him would damage our relationship. According to some of the main reasons for divorce are: lack of commitment, too much arguing, unrealistic expectations, and lack of equality in the relationship.  All of these sound like they could be related to people not listening to messages being sent by their spouse.  If this is so damaging for adults what makes us think it is any different for children, especially babies?
Ignoring your baby's cry is usually a lose-lose situation. A more compliant baby gives up and stops signaling, becomes withdrawn, eventually realizes that crying is not worthwhile, and concludes that he himself is not worthwhile either. ...A baby with a more persistent personality does not give up so easily. Instead, he cries more loudly and keeps escalating his signal, making it more and more disturbing. You could ignore this persistent signal in several ways. You could wait until the baby stops crying and then pick him up, so that he won't think it was his crying that got your attention. This is actually a type of power-struggle; you teach the baby that you're in control, but you also teach him that he has no power to communicate. ...You could desensitize yourself completely so that you won't be "bothered" at all by the cry; this way you can teach baby he gets responded to only when it's "time." Also, according to this scenario, baby gets used to being in a constant state of want. Not feeling right becomes the norm to be re-created throughout his life. ...Or you could pick baby up to calm him but then put him right back down because "it's not time to feed him yet." He has to learn, after all, to be happy "on his own." Lose-lose again; he will start to cry again and you will feel angry. He will learn that his desires make you angry. And he will learn his communication, though heard, has not been understood, which can lead him to distrust his own perceptions ("Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm not hungry"). (Sears)
But babies cry so much you might say, I just don't have the energy or the time to respond to every little sound!  They do mention in the book that over time you will learn which cries need to be responded to right away and that older babies can actually be left alone at some cries because they will realize that this is something they can work out on their own but you have to pay a lot of attention to your baby to figure out when they need you and when they don't.  Besides, the more you pay attention to your child the happier they will be.  According to a study:
Babies who developed a secure attachment and whose cues were responded to in a prompt nurturant way became less clingy and demanding.... babies whose cries were not promptly responded to began to cry more, longer, and in a more disturbing way.... The babies whose cries were sensitively attended to cried 70 percent less. The babies in the cry-it-out group, on the other hand, did not decrease their crying....It is interesting that the studies revealed differences not only in how the babies communicated with the parents based on the response they got to their cries, but there were also differences in the mothers. Studies showed that mothers who gave a more restrained and less nurturant response gradually became more insensitive to their baby's cries, and this insensitivity carried over to other aspects of their parent-child relationship. (Sears)
So, not only does crying-it-out change the baby but it changes the mother too, which is a little frightening.  The cool thing though is that when you respond effectively to the crying they learn how to communicate without crying, which is very nice.
Your other option is to give a prompt and nurturant response. This is the win-win way for baby and mother to work out a communication system that helps them both. The mother responds promptly and sensitively so that baby will feel less frantic the next time he needs something. The baby learns to cry "better," in a less disturbing way, since he knows mother will come. (Sears)
I've already discovered the early signs of hunger in my baby that he makes when he is awake.  I've learned the fussy sounds he makes when he is waking up and needs attention versus the sounds he makes while sleeping that don't need attention.  I think I may have taught him a trick for telling me he's hungry, but it probably is just coincidence and wishful thinking on my part.  Either way, I hope that I am meeting my baby's needs effectively.
Needs that are met early in life go away. Needs that are left unmet never entirely disappear. Instead, the child can follow one of several paths. He can go through life with lower expectations and resign himself to an unfulfilled life. He can spend his life coping on his own and never learn to use the resources of others. Or, he can live a life of anger that the responses he expected were not the responses he got. He will always be searching without really knowing what he is searching for. It's a case of "parent me now" or "parent me later". Therapists' offices are filled with high-need adults in search of re-parenting. (Sears)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Help! And also an adventure.

     Ok, I'm finally getting to the big post.  This will be the first time I am posting pictures.  A few weeks ago, which is when I was actually going to post my last post, we were supposed to take the Cub Scouts to the Japanese Sunken Gardens and then for a "hike" in Brackenridge Park.  Only one boy showed up so we decided to postpone the visit so that more boys would be able to get the achievements we were going to be working on.  The purpose of going to the Sunken Gardens was in place of a requirement they have to go to a botanical garden and learn about plants.  The Botanical Gardens while beautiful are very expensive and the Sunken Gardens are free.  The problem is that the plants at the Sunken Gardens are not labeled so we were pretty much just going to be looking at the plants and hoping the kids thought they were interesting.

     Well, Marley was actually at work since it was a Saturday morning we were planing this activity and when we decided to postpone I decided to take a walk around the gardens myself and take pictures of the plants to that I could find some information on the plants to actually tell the Cub Scouts about when we actually do have the activity.  So I have all these pictures but I don't really know what any of these plants are and I was hoping since I know some people who know about plants that they would be able to help me identify these plants. I tried Googling them and may have found out what some of them are but it's hard to say.
P.S. If you click on the pictures it should give you a full size view of them.
P.P.S. I tried to remove all the duplicates but there are a lot of pictures so let me know if I missed any.

1) Looks like a rose bush.
2) Some kind of grass maybe.
3) Common flower plant in Texas, tall with yellow flowers, possibly Mexican Mint Marigold.
4) Coral Honeysuckle? or Hummingbird Bush?
6) Purple Heart
11) This one looks like Bear Grass
13) Ok you can't tell from the picture but I do know this one-Bamboo.
14) Fir Tree?
15) Dusty Miller
29) Marigolds?
33) Pretty sure this is Hibiscus.
51) The only plant that was labeled-Verbena Homestead Purple
berries from 53
58) Not the kind that close up when you touch them.
61) Red Bog Lilly?

66) Ball Moss

67) Lindheimer's muhly grass?

78) Blue Grama grass
80) Powdery Thalia
Closeup of berries and blossoms of 82.
88) Purple and Green Coleus
89) Foxtail
105) Texas Lantana
113) Victoria Lily Pad?
116) Spider plant + something else