Thursday, December 1, 2016

Post-Partum Check In: Five Months Out

SD at Five Months Post-Partum:

- I know a lot of people think newborns are so hard (and Graves was pretty tough) but honestly I feel like it's such a relief from the exhaustion pregnancy brings. And while I know newborns, older infants, and young toddlers all present their own challenges, so far I've felt like it gets progressively more difficult until leveling out around two and a half. 

- Some of this I think is that people are more empathetic and more likely to offer help in the beginning which is GREAT but I think we (at least I) subconsciously send ourselves the same message. I give myself more grace and receive help more easily. But it's also just my particular personality and what I have patience for. It's making me a bit nervous.

- In what I consider to be a divine blessing, P has little patience for infant wailing and sleepless nights but his tolerance for newly mobile infants and toddler destruction abounds. 

- That said, I feel like I'm getting increasingly more healthy (especially mentally) and this seems less and less like a balancing act and like I'm grasping at straws. 

- I basically mention something like this every month. But it's deeply personal to share in that this was a big month as far as really taking a decisive action in regards to Sallie being our last biological child. I said something to one of my closest friends in the world who has helped me process this so much and it was along the lines of "maybe this pregnancy wasn't THAT bad and I was just a big wimp and super dramatic" and she just sweetly said "You passed out and stuff. It WAS hard." P and I had a very similar conversation. The validation from them both helped me a lot to say with finality "I don't ever have to do that again. Nor do I really want to".

Five months out feels pretty soft and sweet!

What I Learned in November

I'm linking up with Emily to share some things I've learned this month. I thought this was going to be a shorter list than normal, but then I got to thinking about some recent conversations with a couple of friends. A lot of this goes really deep, maybe even to the deepest level. I feel like these have started to have more of a theme- last month I learned a lot from staying at my parents' house to take care of my elderly grandmother and from our camping trip. This month I feel like I learned a bit about my writing and about how I view myself and interact with others around me. I also learned about seasonal changes, the holidays, and hospitality.

1. If you're an introvert with a nursing infant (even one who loves their families and the families they married into with their whole hearts), wearing something that is absolutely not nursing friendly and escaping to a dark room to snuggle and decompress a few times is absolutely heavenly. 
Bonus: people will be lining up to entertain your other children.       

2. Each year, I almost feel like I hate Fall/Winter more and more. And I feel like the world (or those in my circles) love it more and more every year. And I sort of feel a pressure to love it. It's funny because I don't really compare with houses and cars and things now, but sometimes I play that game with things like what seasons I enjoy. Anyway, it's sort of an HSP thing. My skin feels gross and I don't like the way my clothes feel against my body and I wake up cold every morning. 

3. Our house, and lives, will never be perfect and I used that as an excuse to distance myself from others for too long. 
I'm so thankful for friends who show up in the messes. 
4. For me at least (but I think for many people) it is so much easier to reach out to someone who you feel like is "less together" or at least on level with you. Awhile back I really wanted to reach out to an acquaintance who was expecting her first baby- invite her and her husband over for dinner or something- but I was intimidated and I didn't do it. 

5. One of my children has a conviction (or rather compulsion) about doing work on Sunday. One does not. [The one who does is the one who laid down in the dark two hours before bedtime one evening a few weeks ago and said "I'll just pick my boogers and count to one hundred". The one who does not is the one who stopped mid sentence, pointed, and shouted "Look! Squirrel!" like those cartoon dogs. Different strengths, different challenges at the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs.]

6. If you become anxious that your almost eight year old infant seat is a brittle piece of crap but your baby can't sit unassisted, you can still use it as a seat outside of the car.
 I mean, Sal is the exact opposite of a container baby and the Tula works in most situations, but SHE CAN'T SIT UP. And sometimes I'm in situations (like Graves's Little Gym class) where I want to sit without her. [Aside: this cute MilkSnob cover doubles for discreet nursing!]

7. Envy/jealousy is one of the hardest things for me to admit. I think mostly because of how I know it will make the other person feel. I know it makes me SUPER uncomfortable when someone tells me they envy an aspect of my life/personality. I mean it's not near as bad as when you realize someone feels sorry for you and is so thankful they don't have your life. Either way, comparison is so damaging. But I think it's so beneficial to be honest with those things and often I just have to say "yes, I love that aspect of my life, but there's also this aspect you may not we aware of".

8. If you ever need to remove a Band Aid from...a sensitive oil is your BFF
(Hashtag Vasectomy Tips)

9. Y'all, I mean this in a one hundred percent not creepy way) but my dad circa 1985 was Springsteen level good lookin'.

10. I feel more confident in my writing/on social media than in real life. Two of my very closest friends have said, at different points, that I appear way more confident on here than I do in real life. I used to deny it but honestly, they are spot on. It's hard to admit because I try SO hard to be transparent with my struggles and even the fact that I am very insecure about a lot of things. I hope that comes across- because I think it's important to share. Not to stay undone and a mess for other people but to be honest with myself and with others. That said, I do feel like I'm so much better at articulating myself in writing than in conversation.

11. Even when I share the hard things, I want to put a bow on them and not really just sit in the tension. I know there's a variety of reasons- wanting people to know I'm not looking for advice is a big part of it. I'm at a point in my life where I do like having friends that help me troubleshoot problems, but as often as not, I just need somebody to listen and empathize. More than that, though, I think is the fear that people will pity me if I admit something's wrong and there's not really a solution for it. For me, that's about the worst feeling in the world. But I want to get better, in my writing, but more importantly in my relationships, about not always feeling compelled to present everything as if it's hard but somewhat resolved when in reality I need to sit with the messiness of it.

Whew, lots of good learning this month! 

Inviting Others Into the Mess

I was talking to a friend awhile back about how before Sallie came I had started to actually sort of enjoy doing housework- noticing how the warm soapy water feels on my hands and that kind of thing. But then she came and I nowfeel like I kind of need to rush through tasks again or they won't get done. I mean, for example, I'd like Annie to complete second grade at some point before next Fall. 

I want to live a slower, steadier life but sometimes circumstances necessitate the hustle.

Incidentally, this friend came by our house not long after that conversation. I had planned to vacuum the rug and do a bunch of dishes, partly because I just wanted to have it done but partly because the kitchen was The Real World level disgusting and the opposite of company ready. But I woke up with a headache and Sal was quite the fussy girl and after a wonky week I wasn't really expecting, we needed to get some school in. 

Right before Mal was supposed to get here Sallie had one of those cut the onsie off blow-outs (even before Voluntary Simplicity, I've actually never resorted to that-- my motherhood badges are few and small, but that's one I'll claim). Clearly, the source of the morning's fussiness, bless her heart. I knew the gross kitchen wasn't going to get done since I had a new mess to attend to. Mallory is a Vulnerability Friend, though, so it didn't really matter. 

THEN, though, a friend I see about once a year texted me about stopping by if it was convenient (we had discussed it tentatively). She's super down to earth and just the most precious person and seems to have a grasp on life with kids better than any childless person I've ever known, so I described the day's reality, reminded her that I'm trying to work on inviting people into our mess, and told her to please come! She got here and Graves was eating yesterday's cheese he found in the treehouse and Annie had sliced her finger opening some canned pineapple by herself and Sallie was on a ratty bath towel in the middle of the backyard. 

Our house, and lives, will never be perfect and I used that as an excuse to distance myself from others for too long. I'm so thankful for friends that meet us where we are- in our literal (and figurative) messes.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #381 (July 18-24)-- Six Weeks of Sal, a Visit from the Reynauds, and More of Our Summer Routine

I've said this before, but while it's not ideal to me, there are some fun things about finishing these up several months after the fact. It's interesting looking back and noticing in my writing (I just go back and add pictures and such, I write the details out each night) how very tired and emotional I was. I was very happy and very grateful for Sallie and in some ways I felt the most complete and content that I had in years, so it was hard for me to admit that at the same time I was sad and coming undone in a lot of ways. But looking back I can see it so very clearly.

Sarah Lamar was up a bunch during the night and had like three dirty diapers. Ugh. Anyway, Peyton got up around nine on Monday to go work an extra shift and she was up, too and then Graves woke up at ten. I finally put her down in the PnP. She wasn't screaming but she couldn't settle and seemed frustrated. She pottied again and I got up and changed and dressed and fed her. I had a terrible headache and took some medicine and then started a load of diapers and made our bed and straightened some in our room. I ate breakfast, got on the computer, and fixed the big kids breakfast. I fed Sallie again and texted with a friend and then changed over laundry and jumped in the tub. The kids played a little and I did a few things and then they had lunch and rest time and I helped them build a lion den and then mostly just wasted time. I was super emotional and exhausted. After rest time, they played outside. I did a bunch of dishes and straightened and they had supper out there. They came in and we straightened their room a bit and then I read to Graves (Annie wasn't interested surprisingly). I fed Sallie and Peyton got home.

Despite being emotionally fragile and just exhausted, I couldn't stop thinking about how I'd never enjoyed a baby so much.

 We talked and I did some computer stuff and it got late. I really have no idea what I was even doing or where the time went but I finally got to bed.

Salllie got up when Peyton left for a doctor's appointment around eight on Tuesday and then went back to sleep. We all slept past eleven. I got up and straightened in our room and made the bed. I changed and dressed Sarah Lamar and Graves held her while I made the bed. I fed her and started a load of diapers and got on the computer and had my breakfast while the kids had media time.

Annie learned the word "nautical" and she just happened to coordinate with Sallie today in their outfits so I had to take a picture. Also, apparently, not only did Sis look huge compared to Annie at one month she looked huge compared to her at seven years.
 I fixed them oatmeal and did a few dishes and took a bath. Peyton got home and I just broke down. So much was upsetting me and I just couldn't stop crying. We talked and I rested some and then we talked some more. He basically did everything for the big kids and I snuggled with Sallie. Her got Annie and Graves supper that evening and got them to bed early and we watched a show. I felt physically terrible but couldn't go to sleep. I finally got to sleep super late.

We all got up around 8:30 on Wednesday and got ready and headed to Clinton to meet Stan- the pastor at Northshide at Chick Fil A. He was going to come over and visit but Peyton had to pick up something from the pharmacy and the house was a disaster anyway and Peyton knew CFA would be a fun treat. We had a nice visit, picked up the medicine Peyton had left at the store, and headed home. When we got home, we cleaned up the kids' room and got a lot of stuff packed away for latter (they just had too much out) and then I pumped my first bottle this time around and got on the computer. I made the bed and started a load of laundry. I had some lunch and did a few more things and then we headed over to Peyton's parents' house for a visit. We stayed about an hour and had such a good time. We went by Walmart and then came home.

Family Walmart trip exuberance!  

Oh, Sis. Walmart wears me out, too.[As does changing atrocious diapers using paper towels.]

When we got home, Peyton fixed the big kids supper and I fed Sallie and the big kids had a little media time. Peyton went to bed early and I started some laundry, straightened in the study, sent three emails, and read some blogs. I took out the trash and cleaned out the trash can where something had leaked, wiped down the washing machine door, and scrubbed out a plastic bin that had been outside and I wanted to use inside. I worked on a couple of posts and then ate something and went to bed.

Peyton got up on Thursday and made some muffins for our neighbors. He wanted to write a note, though, and ran out of time. It was around nine and I had been up feeding the baby (she slept from two until then) and was looking at my phone and so when he left I scratched out a quick note and dropped off the muffins and casserole dishes they had sent food in off at their back door. I looked at the computer and then went back to sleep until ten thirty. Graves and Sallie got up and I changed her diaper and dressed her and then nursed her and got her settled. I got busy around the house. I made our bed and straightened in our room. I helped the kids pick up their room but they did a ton of it (I mainly helped with books and dirty clothes and such). I collected laundry and started a load, got out some toilet paper and took it to the bathroom and put up a mopping bucket, and folded and put up some towels. I put up dishes and got on the computer and Peyton got home. I had lunch and took a shower and then Peyton did math with Graves and I fed Sallie.

I love what a passionate full face yawner she is. And I have to admit- she ain't the only one yawning. We tired. But, some days- most days- I don't even mind it, you know?

 I helped Annie start her math and talked to a friend on the phone while I folded laundry. Peyton and Graves grilled some stuff outside and I laminated some things and then we all ate.

I snuggled with Sallie, worked on a blog post a bit, read a few blogs, and got on Facebook. I hung up a TON of the kids' clean clothes and then started doing dishes. Peyton ran to the grocery store and Sallie started fussing so I put her in the sling and did more of the dishes. Peyton got home and helped the big kids get supper and baths. I swept in the kitchen and put up groceries and then worked on a blog post for awhile.I read a few blogs, pumped a bottle, and had a snack. I fed Sarah Lamar and went to bed.

Peyton worked a long shift on Friday. He got up and left before eight and I fed Sallie and cuddled with her. The kids and I all slept super late. When I got up, I changed Sallie and fed her and then started some laundry and took some medicine for a headache. I got on the computer and went through my email, watched a video a friend sent, and did a few other things. I went through my reader and texted some friends and it was later than I meant for it to be.

I got the kids working on cleaning up their room and then Sarah Lamar got upset and Graves pitched a big fit over something and it was just a bad hour or so. They finally finished and she fell asleep. I changed over laundry and sorted a clean load. I got the towels out and folded them and got the stuff that needed to hang out as well and left the rest. I fixed the big kids lunch and fixed my own and ate and got on the computer.  I also attempted to make my follow up appointment with the OB, which I thought had already been scheduled. They said they'd have to call me back and that was a bit frustrating. I read some blogs, sent a FB message, and worked on a post. After that, I got the kids set up doing a craft and I did an bunch of dishes. They played awhile and then Annie did some math and Graves cleaned up a bit. I fed Sallie and folded clothes and Peyton got home and we headed to my parents' house around nine. It was super late but it worked well because Cookie and Conrad were in town again and they were getting there at nine. We had great time and then came home and got the kids to their room.

Minnie was very excited that Sallie finally "looked like a human" She's not a huge fan of newborns. Ultrasounds horrify her. I recently found out that when she was pregnant with me and Cookie she felt totally weird and uncomfortable about it. The funny thing is I had just told a friend of mine who is a midwife how it took me SO long (and is still a process at times) to be comfortable with pregnancy and birth and breast feeding. Pretty much to be comfortable with bodies. Honestly when Annie was born I couldn't even describe myself as a woman (I much preferred girl) or say the word breast and both birth and nursing skeeved me almost beyond what I was able to bear and to some extent terrified me. It's so interesting how the things you fear can become things you're passionate about.

 I fed Sarah Lamar and gave her a bath, even though it was eleven at night (she smelled like spit up!) and then talked to Peyton some. I got on the computer and went to bed late.

Saturday was a fun day. Peyton got up and headed into work and the kids and I slept until mid morning. I got the big kids breakfast and fed Sallie and changed her and made our bed and straightened our room. Peyton got his grandmother a Fire and I sent some test emails with pictures. I helped the kids work on their room, picked up around the house, and collected laundry. I also hung up a bunch of their clothes and a bunch of Peyton's and got our stuff ready to go to my parents' that afternoon. I got on the computer and had my breakfast and then took a shower and got ready. I folded a little bit of laundry and fed and dressed Sarah Lamar and Minnie came over to pick us up.

We had a nice afternoon visiting with Cookie and Conrad at my parents'. Daddy grilled and a storm blew in and it's always so beautiful over the water. Graves did get a little hard to manage as it got later and he got wilder, but it was a great, albeit tiring, day overall. Cookie and Conrad left for her birthday dinner with friends and the kids and I stayed a couple of hours until Peyton got there. We all ate the hamburgers Mickey grilled and didn't stay much longer since Peyton's collarbone was hurting. We came home and I talked to Peyton and changed Sallie and then got on the computer.

I went to bed a bit earlier than usual.

Peyton worked but the kids and I slept so late on Sunday. We got up and I pumped a bottle- as much as I didn't want to, it was the best time. I ate my breakfast and Graves had his and then I made a list for the day and took a shower. I dried my hair and made our bed and straightened in our room. Annie and Graves played for awhile and then I fixed them lunch. I fed the baby and they had rest time. They fought more than usual and Sallie was cranky and it was a bit rough.

Sunday marked six weeks with our Sallie Baby and I was feeling so emotional thinking about her first days. Peyton took this when she was zero days old. I'll treasure it always. It was hard not to hold her ALL THE TIME. Not because I thought it was better. Not even because she demanded it like her brother did. But because Cowebs and all (good grief, that poem makes me bawl). And because, with some exceptions, I just didn't want to put her down. So I didn't.

After rest time we cleaned up their room and Graves was so not into it. He finally did some and he got to watch one show (instead of two) and Annie had time on the iPad. I finished straightening some things and did some laundry.

 Those sweet blue eyes!

The kids played and I fixed their supper and they ate. I got them settled and Peyton got home and we watched a show. I stayed up too late. I did some stuff on the computer, did math with Annie, and fed the baby.

The next week was our first little family trip!