Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Misery Loves Company

A wave of depression has knocked me down tonight. Nothing major has happened, just a bunch of little things. An injury, an illness, some minor but chronic physical complaints, a series of "career" blows, a reminder of the same situation in a past "career" and my house is still a mess.

In the midst of my self-pity, I recognize that it's whiny and not warranted. There are so many people out there with real problems. And I have so much to be grateful for. I have a wonderful husband, a delicious daughter, a baby on the way, a nice house that we are turning into a home.... The list goes on. God has been good to me. I should appreciate it and be thankful everyday.

But misery is easier. It fits into our culture today. We are supported in it and people are more than happy to help justify it. Maybe it is an honest desire to be supportive, maybe it simply excuses their own attitudes. When things don't go our way we feel entitled to negativity. At least I do. After all, don't I deserve _____?

The problem is that even though I recognize my childishness, I can't shake the depression. It has brought me down. I've let it sap my will. Allowing that to grow will not make me feel better. It will not improve the lives of me or my family. It will just rob us of our present, past and future.

My goal is to wake up tomorrow with a better attitude. Because this one does not work. In any way.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

People Can be Good

A few days ago I put out a call for help on Facebook. Despite a character flaw that has me terrified to ask for help and often unable to accept it when offered, I decided to ask. For my wonderful Squiggle. You see, she loves to swim. And we don't have access to a pool. It is already the middle of August and she had only been swimming twice.

So I asked my "friends" if any of them would like to invite my beautiful toddler into their pool. Several responded. Including some that I would have previously categorized as acquaintances.

So far we have been out twice. More will hopefully follow. I just wanted to say that I am overwhelmed by the generosity of people.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Breastfeeding Squiggle: Part Two

So now that I've told you my illusions, now I suppose it's only fair that I report how reality shattered them. 

After an induction and epidural I finally had my beautiful little girl. I don't really remember much about that time. She was handed to me and I know that I nursed her but I was so overwhelmed by my perfect, new baby that I honestly have no idea how it went. What I do know is that I didn't notice anything wrong. Booby Trap: Forcing her to come before she was ready. There is also debate on the effects of labor medication on establishing a breastfeeding relationship. Link here.

They took her away to do whatever it is they do to new babies while they moved me to my room. Jake and I had just gotten settled in when they rolled her in. Since his entire family was there, they passed her around. I tried to be patient thinking that soon they'd be gone and it would just be the three of us. Unfortunately that wasn't to be. Before I had even gotten to hold her, the nurse came in. She said that Squiggle was jaundiced and would have to be taken to the nursery for phototherapy. In addition, I was told that I couldn't nurse her, she required formula. Booby Traps: Separation of mother and baby. Introduction of formula.

This was something I hadn't even thought to research, so we had no knowledge and relied on the experts.

They brought her to us every three hours for a 30 minute feeding. It was very hard for me to accept that I had to force-feed my baby formula. And I do mean force-feed. My nurse seemed very nice, if a bit forceful. She showed us which nipples to use and told us to get as much formula in her as possible. Since most bilirubin is excreted through bowel movements, the sooner she pooped it out, the sooner we could have our baby. (Later we found out that each feeding she was eating 2 - 3 times the amount of food she should have gotten.)

I was understandable depressed about not even being allowed to try to breastfeed. When the head nurse came in to check on us I mentioned it to her. She got a strange look on her face and said that I absolutely could breastfeed, I just had to give her formula too. She went to show us the breastfeeding compatible nipples, but they were gone. It turned out that those were the ones that our nurse didn't like, and had moved. Booby Trap: sabotage in the hospital by an anti-breastfeeding nurse.

From then on when they'd bring her I'd try to nurse her, but she'd fall asleep as soon as I got her in my arms. We'd try to keep her up but it didn't work. Then as time ran out we'd feed her the bottle. All too soon she would be taken away.

Finally I asked for a pump to hopefully keep my supply up. We went home a day later than planned with a bunch of formula and some pump accessories.

I was still determined to breastfeed. My husband supported me and I had friends in my Mommy Group that supported my desire, even when they didn't think formula feeding would be a negative. That first week home was a struggle. I was trying to breastfeed my baby, who was clearly not satisfied at my breast. I felt like a complete failure. Our baby was miserable. My husband felt helpless. Things were not good.

In stepped my friend Jen, from Mommy Group. She found a lactation consultant and actually reserved an appointment for me. All I had to do was call to confirm the time. There was a bit of a debate due to the price. We knew it would be worth it if it worked, but if it didn't we'd be out that money for nothing. But the fact that the appointment had been set got us to go.

The lactation consultant, Avery, was very nice. She explained that our baby was being overfed at every meal. In her words, Squiggle was getting "Thanksgiving full" at every meal. Consequently she was unsatisfied with anything less.

She showed us how to do paced feedings, basically using a slow flow nipple and sitting Squiggle upright. This made her work harder to get her food. I was banned from holding a bottle. She also had us rent a pump to stimulate my milk supply. I had to pump for 15 minutes after every feeding. She explained that the point was not to get milk, but to fool my body into upping its production. We were then sent home with a follow-up appointment set for the next week.

That week we banned visitors from our home. I never donned a shirt. We were a team. I'd nurse her, then while I pumped, my husband would top her off with the bottle, trying to draw the feeding out as long as possible to give her time to realize that she was full.

No photo because no one was around to take one.

It ended up working. My supply eventually was built up and we continued to nurse successfully until my milk dried up with this pregnancy. But there were continuing problems. I ended up being so grateful that she was nursing that I didn't correct her latch when it hurt. This led to much unnecessary pain.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Word Choice: "I" v. "Me"

Did you and I skip English class? Or was it you and me? I could go into the subjective (me) and objective (I) explanation. Things happen to "me" while "I" is the doer. But there is an easier way and here it is.

Drop the other person from the sentence and see if it still makes sense.

Example #1: "You and I skipped English class." or "You and me skipped English class." Drop "you and" what is left is either "I skipped English class." or "Me skipped English class." Clearly only one of these is correct, unless you work on Sesame Street. (Grammar point: "You and I" are committing the action and are the objects of the sentence.)

Example #2: "Class was canceled for you and me." or "Class was canceled English for you and I." Drop the "you and" here and the sentence reads either, "Class was canceled for me." or "Class was canceled for I." Again the choice becomes clear. (Grammar point: Someone else is acting, "you and I" are the subjects the action is happening to.)

Really, the bold type is the only part you need to remember to never make this mistake again.

By the way, my grammar loving husband wanted me to add that never, under any circumstances, would it be correct to write "myself" in place of "I" or "me."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Breastfeeding Squiggle: Part One

Yes, I know World Breastfeeding Week is over. But I didn't get around to this post before, and breastfeeding is important enough to talk about during the other 51 weeks as well.

I planned to breastfeed from the start. For many reasons.

1)  Cost. I will do many things to save a buck. Of course anyone who has seen how much formula costs know that nursing will save more than a buck. 

2)  Health. Sure there are lots of scientific studies that prove this. For babies: decreased illness both as an infant and later in life, decreased risk of SIDS, increased intelligence, etc. For moms: decreased risk for female cancers, faster postpartum recovery, this list goes on too.

For the less scientific, God designed the system. (If you don't believe in God, there is still the whole "natural" argument.) I know mankind is arrogant, but believing that anything pieced together from chemicals derived from different sources could be better than God's design is Frankensteinian thought. (Yes, I just made up that word.)

3)  Convenience. I took care of my sister's baby for a while. Here's how it looked.
Baby Sunshine starts fussing for food; I go to the kitchen and grab bottle and liner and nipple and formula. Sunshine whines; I put liner in bottle and open formula. Sunshine cries; I count out the right number of scoops of formula into bottle. Sunshine screams; I add water and stir formula gently so as to not create too many bubbles that will end up giving her gas later. Sunshine continues to scream and turns red; I cap the bottle and ignore the mess I've made, formula still uncovered, powder spilled from the scoop not fitting into the bottle, liquid spilled from stirring too frantically, etc. Sunshine is still red and screaming; I scoop her up and try to force the bottle into her gaping maw as she's too upset to realize that she has what she wanted.
Not the life I wanted to live on a regular basis with my own child. (And before anyone mentions feeding cues and how it would be different with my own child, the people who lived with her had the same experience. Sunshine's parents and live-in grandma very often couldn't get food in her fast enough to head off the meltdown.)

4)  Self-worth. This is where I sound a bit arrogant. I've always had nice breasts. They've garnered me a lot of attention through the years. Even when I'm not deliberately showing them off, they're kind of noticeable. I've always had a good relationship with them as decorations, but breastfeeding would give me a chance to use them to feed my baby. It is totally amazing and I get a heady feeling just thinking about the fact that breasts can make enough food to grow a delicate little newborn into a big, strong toddler.

Throughout my pregnancy I researched breastfeeding. I learned about technique and theory. My mom nursed my sister and me, but I grew up hearing about how my grandmother had wanted to breastfeed but couldn't. No explanation was given. Knowing my Scandinavian grandma, I'm surprised she ever mentioned it to my mom. Since she died many years ago it's too late to ask her directly. At least without a Ouija board. (It's a joke, folks.) I'll never know if the problem was biological or situational.

Then my sister had her child and was unable to breastfeed. My mom kept bringing the two of them up when I mentioned my plan to nurse. At times it felt like her attitude was to prevent me from being upset at possible failure, other times it felt like she didn't want me to succeed where my sister had failed. Yes, there are issues there.

Somehow none of my extensive research was into the "booby traps" that new moms can encounter. None of my friends had kids and my Internet searches never brought them up. So I marched into motherhood convinced that if I was physically able, I would have no problems nursing my new baby.

Since this post is getting longer than I realized, I will stop here and post the second half later.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vincenzo's NY Pizza - Rest in Peace, Lillo

A while back my family had a coupon book. We also had a friend who was on a mission to visit small pizza and pasta joints, instead of eating at the chains. Happy coincidence brought us to Vincenzo's.
The heart of Vincenzo's.

The online reviews were great. They said that the owners, a husband and wife, treated customers like family.  They were right. Lillo was the cook, Joanne ran everything else and Joanne's mom sat at the table near the kitchen knitting. They were all very friendly. Joanne would stop by and chat before, during and after dinner. Lillo would talk from the strip kitchen, very often bringing out samples of dishes he was making. He had an accent that identified him as originating in Sicily. "Mom" didn't speak much English, but she was always there, smiling or making faces at my Squiggle. They would occasionally ask if they could give her something special to eat or drink.

They would even bring over a little pizza guy who sang a song when you pressed a button. Squiggle would press that button over and over. Nobody ever complained. She would look for it when we came in and they always brought it over. Even knowing that they'd be stuck listening to it non-stop until we left, or I took it away. Now I wish I'd never stopped her fun.
The pizza guy with another little girl. I'll always not regret getting a photo of Squiggle playing with it.

In December the place shut down temporarily due to a unspecified health issue. When it reopened it was being run by a nephew and a friend. They informed us that Lillo had cancer. We continued to go, to support them and the business the only way we could.

Last night we had some people over and had Vincenzo's pizza delivered. Today I read on Facebook that Lillo was gone.

We drove by the place tonight, but didn't stop by. It was open but we really didn't know what we would say or do. We went to IHOP where Squiggle sang a little song. The tune was her own, the only lyric was "pizza."
Squiggle and me with Vincenzo's Santa. The last time we saw Lillo.

I broke down. It may seem silly to feel that way over people that we never saw outside the restaurant. I might have thought that before it happened to me. But that is how special they are. Vincenzo's was a special place to eat a meal, and it was due to the love that they put into it.

We hope to go in later this week. I heard that they lost the business in order to pay for medical treatments. Jake said that last night may have been the last time we'd dine on Vincenzo's food. But the truth is, it's been months. The food hasn't been the same since Lillo was diagnosed. He was part of the magical combo that made Vincenzo's more than just a sum of its parts.

Rest in Peace, dear man.
You will be missed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Misadventure and a Lesson

Yes, I missed yesterday's English lesson because I was following my own advice. My husband woke me up earlier than I'm used to. Squiggle had awakened about an hour before her normal time and since he had a bad dream he thought I should take her to the park. (Don't ask, it didn't really make sense to me either.)

But he was right. This was a stellar opportunity. (And very interesting timing since he doesn't read my blog.) I started the oats then hopped on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join us for a splash pad playdate.
Butterfly Splash Pad at Centennial Hills Park.

Big Jake decided he wanted to come, and Miss Terri brought him, even though her prophetic powers let her know that he would spend most of the time trying to play on the equipment, not splashing in the water.

I got Squiggle situated in her seat and realized that she didn't have a hat. So I left the car running in the garage, unlocked the house and sprinted to the hall closet to get the hat. With this minor memory lapse addressed, we were off.

Upon arrival at the park I unloaded the stroller, diaper bag, purse, Mommy junk bag, blanket and baby. This would perhaps be a good time to let you know about our car and its neat abilities.
45 mpg after 6 years.

We have a 2005 Prius. When we bought it there was a nine month wait. But the wait meant that we could choose the package we wanted. The basic package would have been fine, but I occasionally have insights into the future, myself. Even though we had no kids, we wanted them. The package above the basic had this nifty quirk. It didn't require any manipulation of keys to lock, unlock or turn on the car. Just having the keys on you is enough. The car senses it and lets you in. Then you push the button and the car turns on. Another push turns the car off. Finally, there is a button on the door handle that locks the car. All this with the keys in your pocket or purse.
See the cute little power button?

Now you may think that this is silly. How much work is it to use a key. Just accept my experience here. When you are carrying a bunch of stuff, including a squirming child, not having to fish around for your keys is very helpful.

However, it does make it easier to lose track of the keys. I have noticed they're gone by my inability to gain entrance to my vehicle. In these rare instances, I'm left searching through my bags to find them. Usually it is just a case of the sensor being blocked by something in my purse. Rarely, it has been a case of go back inside and search for the keys.

You probably see where I'm going. This time I couldn't lock the car door. I did a cursory examination of my three bags. Didn't see them. I checked the cup holder. No luck. My darling daughter "helped" by getting very fussy in the stroller. So I decided I'd get her to the park and look for them on my own when our friends arrived.

I searched the three bags more thoroughly by emptying all the contents. Twice. Then I looked under the car, under all the seats, between the seats, in containers they couldn't be in... you get the idea. No luck.

Then the thought that I'd been dismissing as impossible finally became too difficult to ignore. I called home and asked my husband to look in the door to our house. And there it was.

Up 'til then I had no idea that our car could run without the keys. I thought it would shut down if they were separated by too much distance. I was wrong. It seems that as long as the car is running, it will drive anywhere without the keys. Lesson learned. In about the least painful way possibly. After we were played out (read: the moms were tired of chasing the kids around the playground and the kids were overdue for a nap) we moved the car seats and Miss Terri drove us all back to our house.

We put the kids down for a nap and retrieved the car. Then we got to spend the afternoon visiting and shared dinner. All in all, it was a decent day. And now we know something new about our car. I think this was God showing us about something that could have been a disaster in the wrong circumstance. Now that we know we can pay attention and hopefully never repeat it.

Not to mention, it makes a wonderful story. How many of you have driven off without your car key? That's what I thought.
My punishment.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Former Resolutions

I always wanted children. I planned on a big family. At least 6 kids. As I got older I developed all sorts of ideas about raising them.

There were a number of things that I would and wouldn't do. My children, for instance, wouldn't watch television. Why? Aside from all the hoity-toity, better-than-you reasons, they wouldn't need to. Because my children would be free to play and have fun. Not only would it be allowed, but encouraged. And Mommy would be right there joining in.

I certainly would do nothing to squash their creativity. Drag all my chairs and blankets into a room to make the world's biggest fort? Sure thing. Make mashed potato sculptures decorated with peas and corn before eating them? Absolutely! My children would be allowed to do all those things I loved to as a child, but always got yelled at for. The mess created would be nothing to me. Whether it be paint and glue from art projects or stains from feeding "myseff" blueberry yogurt.
Finger food.

Fast forward to the present. My daughter is too young to drag all the chairs around, but I am much more interested in figuring out how to get her to put her toys away than I am in sitting among them to play with her. I give her dry finger foods to feed herself and insist on holding the spoon for anything that might ooze off. I don't even like to let her eat fruit outside of her high chair because of the sticky juice stains on my tile and carpet. Needless to say, we've never even considered doing an art project.

I am not making time to let her explore. She loves to splash in the water, but I rarely bathe her and we've only turned on the sprinklers once. She is so happy with little things that I so rarely provide. I am shortchanging her and stealing her childhood, as surely as mine was stolen. And I have no excuse. I am just lazy and don't want the inconvenience. I look around at all the chores I have. Both the maintenance, and the improving. There's just no time for silliness.

After all, I have a new baby on the way and so much to do before the arrival. Boxes to unpack, junk to be put in its place, finding those places to begin with....  I want so desperately to have a beautiful home. One that is pleasing and comforting to relax in. Where everything both has a place and is located there. This is a thing I've never had. Consequently achieving it is harder than it should be. Simply put, I don't know how it's done.
Squiggle showing you a sample of my housekeeping skills.

It is a dream that I, and my husband, have shared for years. Many hours are spent in its pursuit. But I can't continue to sacrifice our present to chase that future. My child and husband need me now. As nice as a clean living area would be, my family does not need a model house as much as they need a loving home. They need a mommy and wife more than a maid.

I have to believe that with God's help I will find a way to give my family both in the future. But there are many years in which to clean, and relatively few in which to enjoy my child(ren).

I don't want my kid's memories of me to be someone who was always nagging about cleaning, despite never meeting the goal. That is the household memory I have, and it saddens me. My hope is that they recall their childhoods as joyful. That Mommy was always there for them, even if there were other things to do.
The expression I prefer to see on my child.

So here's my goal moving forward. I will do at least one "special" fun thing a day. When Squiggle is awake, I will focus on her. My cleaning will involve her or be done during naps. Sure her "help" will make each task that much longer. But we will be together. Which is really what she wants and needs.
Squiggle "helping" Mommy.

And if the house isn't perfect when Wriggly finally arrives? Well, then I suppose I will have another helper on my journey.