September 22, 2009
My husband and I were having a heated argument last night (never mind over what), when suddenly, I said through my tears, “What do you think of the name X?” “I think it’s really nice,” my husband said quietly. The name had been going through my head for a couple days, and although it wasn’t even remotely related to what we were fighting about, I just felt the overwhelming need to share it right then and there. And from that point on, the argument became less negative, more constructive, and we eventually reached a resolution. And it seems we also have a name for the baby. But no, I’m not going to tell you what it is!
September 16, 2009
Parenthood really tests your limits. So far, our family consists of a mom, a dad, a two-year-old, a neurotic 11-year-old dog and a very active fetus. I know single moms taking care of two children, happily married moms taking care of four children, and others with two to three children who are happily married but whose husbands are seemingly constantly away on business.
I don’t know how they do it.
I have to remind myself from time to time that no one “does it all.” Even if it seems like they do, it’s probably just what it looks like to someone on the outside. And even when you scratch beneath the surface and it still looks like they’re “doing it all,” they’re not.
Anyone “doing it all” is neglecting something, usually themselves.
I have to remind myself of this because it helps keep me from despairing when I feel like I’m failing as a mom, wife, translator or member of society. In fact, I have to remind myself in general of the deceptiveness of the feeling of “the grass is always greener on the other side.” For example, some of my favorite blogs include Soule Mama, Betz White and Angry Chicken. And when I read their thoughts and see their pictures, it’s easy to think my life would be easier and more harmonious if I didn’t live in a big metropolis. So many of the things I value in family life seem so much easier to include in said life when you live somewhere a little quieter. And then I have to remind myself that a) I’m not seeing the whole picture of any of these women’s lives, and b) there are things about living in a big city that I would miss horribly. I see my Ozzie friend Amanda raising her two young children while her husband jets around the globe on business, and I see her do it with such seeming effortlessness, that I wonder if I’m just plain incompetent.
But if I really stop and think about it, I’m not incompetent, and while city living does make certain family rituals much harder to establish and uphold, it’s not the reason I feel like a failure sometimes.
I am, quite simply, overwhelmed right now.
Why, you ask?
- I have a two-year-old;
- I am six months pregnant;
- This pregnancy, while not high-risk, has been very hard;
- I have been laid up with a sinus infection for the last seven days;
- My social network in Berlin has shrunk to miniscule proportions;
- We’re going through a major financial rough spot (oddly enough, totally unrelated to the global financial crisis, but I’ll address this whole can of worms in another post);
- And lastly, alas, after 28+ years of life in this body, I still tend to bite off more than I can chew.
June 8, 2009
* Originally written May 20, 2009
As the end of the first trimester seems attainable, I’m beginning to feel more confident. For one, I no longer feel quite so apprehensive about having a miscarriage. The spotting hasn’t returned at all since I started taking the progesterone supplements, and I certainly feel pregnant enough to be constantly reminded that “hey, this is real!”
But the feeling pregnant part has also been a drag. The symptoms of pregnancy have been much more intense this time around. It’s hard to say whether it’s the pregnancy itself that’s different or whether it has more to do with the fact that I can’t just succumb to the overwhelming desire to sleep, eat, be alone or to lie down in the one position that helps me feel slightly less nauseated (on my back with knees bent and hands folded on my tummy). To some extent, I suspect the latter; since I already have a young child who needs a lot of attention and care, I can’t just indulge the whims of my pregnant body. But then again, my first pregnancy wasn’t accompanied by a hormone deficiency, and I don’t know any woman who experienced two pregnancies that were exactly alike. I am soooooo relieved that Marie is weaned, though, because the mere thought of feeling this way and breastfeeding on top of it makes me feel light-headed and panicky. I just don’t think I could have handled it.
If I’m making it sound like this pregnancy is miserable, well, then, I suppose am guilty as charged. But it’s not all bad news. I’m also feeling confident that when I no longer have to take progesterone supplements (8 days from now) and when I am officially in the second trimester (15 days from now), I will begin feeling significantly better. Not that I expect the rest of my pregnancy to go smoothly without a single hitch, but I do expect this first-trimester misery to subside soon, at least enough for me to be able to enjoy my days a little more and consequently, for my daughter and husband to enjoy me a little more. Seriously, these past weeks cannot have been that fun for either of them. Not only have I been tired and prone to sudden fits of nausea and fatigue too strong to resist, but I have been moody as hell, more likely than ever to either sit and stew while ignoring everybody or to snap and yell at others for mere trifles.
I think Marie, especially, has picked up on my mood. Toffi is an adult and is much more able to understand why his wife is so apt to blow her stack these days. I know it bothers him, but he knows it’s temporary and that it’s not him that’s making me crazy. But Marie doesn’t know these things, and she seems to sense it on a much more subconscious level. I think a lot of her tantrums and the battles of the wills we’ve been having can be partly blamed on my ambivalent (and sometimes downright hostile) mood. It also hasn’t helped that she hasn’t been sleeping nearly enough over the past 3-4 weeks (a topic on which I could rant for days), but even this chronic sleep deprivation could be at least partly related to feelings of insecurity arising from my pregnancy and the way I’ve been feeling and acting.
In other words, I can’t wait for the next two weeks to be over, to feel more certain of this pregnancy going to term, to feel physically and mental better and to feel like I have more control over my own behavior again.
April 20, 2009
Welcome to the Motherwear Carnival of Breastfeeding!
Not long ago, I shared my tips for surviving a cold or flu as a breastfeeding mom. Today I want to talk about what to do if you’re healthy, but your nursing baby or toddler is sick. My advice is based on my own experience and is really focused on managing daily life while caring for your sick nursling. Ask your pediatrician about what your child needs during his or her specific illness, and if you are unsure about anything, talk to your child’s doctor first!
1. Nurse, nurse, nurse! This is the single most helpful thing you can do. Your breastmilk is a complete food, providing not only the most important nutrients, but also unique immune factors that will help your nursling fight his illness better than any other food or supplement you could imagine. Any time you are exposed to an illness, your immune system produces antibodies to fight the infection. These antibodies are passed on to your baby through your milk, making it one of nature’s most clever protective mechanisms for little people whose immune systems are not yet mature. In fact, when a baby or toddler is sick, breastmilk is often the only thing he will willingly eat/drink and the only thing he is able to keep down. So try not to limit your child’s time at the breast. Be aware that your older baby may give up solid foods for a while and may not return to previous eating habits for a while, even after he is healthy again. If you have recently begun weaning, go back to allowing your child to nurse on demand until the infection has cleared up. You can always return to the weaning process later. Right now, helping baby get well has priority. Depending on what kind of infection baby has, you may want to modify the frequency and/or length of feedings. This overview by kellymom should give you a good idea of what to do.
2. Revive your comfy nursing spot. If your baby is younger, you probably have a nursing station all set up. If your baby is Read the rest of this entry »
February 23, 2009
One of the hardest things about parenting a high-needs child is the self-doubt that accompanies the journey. There’s no health-care professional who “diagnoses” your child as having high needs; it’s something you figure out as a parent over time. You notice that your baby seems to cry more, louder, more persistently than others. You spend the vast majority of the time carrying your infant because it HATES to be put down, like EVER, while your friend’s baby sleeps 6-hour stretches in his crib, and his “crying” is practically inaudible compared to your child’s screams. Depending on how long it takes you to figure out that there is such a thing as a high-needs child and that yours is one of them, you’ll spend a little or a lot of time thinking your baby’s otherness is your fault. Your inexperience, your ineptitude are the reason why your baby cries so much or why it takes you ten times as long to convince your toddler to let you put her shoes and jacket on than any other parent at daycare. It’s really easy to blame yourself and think you’re a bad parent. Even after you pick up that first book on high-needs children and have the life-saving revelation that this describes your child with frightening accuracy and that your kid is simply wired differently, it’s easy to slip back into the doubt cycle: “Have I been saying my child is high needs because it’s a convenient excuse for my failure as a parent? Am I just not cut out to be a parent?” And that’s why it’s so important to hear others confirm that yes, your kid really is different, and it’s's just his or her particular personality. Some parents might cringe when a caregiver describes their child as “difficult” or “willful.” I feel a huge sense of relief.
“Marie is so funny.”
“Yeah, she’s like a little princess. Always putting on a show, always doing things her own way.”
“She’s definitely not a follower. I think she likes to do things differently from the rest of the group.”
“Exactly. She’s willful. I mean, they’re all willful in their own ways. But Marie’s just … different.”
This was what two caregivers told me when I picked her up today. The subject came up because Marie had insisted on eating her post-nap snack while standing on her chair, while all the other kids were sitting in theirs, happily munching away within bounds.
Just a reminder that I’m not imagining things.