09 November 2014

Baby Blues: An Annoyingly Misleading Term

I still feel sad multiple times every day for my friend who lost her beautiful baby daughter. I know she thought it would be old news for many after a few weeks, and maybe that is true. But it is not old news to me. Every time I drive past her house, and often when I just look at my little ones, I try to imagine the heaviness of her grief. I am sure I fail, because I think that kind of grief can only be understood by experience.

One of the things on my mind is isolation. I always feel very isolated for the first six months to a year of a baby's life. It's funny, because some might wonder how a woman with four children and a loving and attentive husband could ever feel isolated at all. People use the term "Baby Blues," which I find annoying, because it makes it sound cute, and less serious and painful than it actually is.

I have a few thoughts, after my extensive analysis. I host a book group and attend my local quilt guild, which activities help me feel connected to a community twice a month. I have an assignment at church, which can keep me connected to my faith community. I can call, text, or email my family and friends to stay connected to them. I have lunch and a scheduled play date with friends every week, and sometimes have other play dates as well.

But when I have a baby, while doing all of those things, there is often a large part of my brain that is not connected to anything except The Baby. He is underneath all of my thoughts, often fussing in the background, ready to interrupt anything I do at a moments notice. I love him, and I want him, and I enjoy him as much as possible.

I feel the blues around me, waiting to settle in. I wave them away with my quilting, my play dates, my exercise, my books. Sometimes I fail, and I feel alone. I feel disconnected from everyone: from Alex, from the kids, from my friends, and even from myself. In the past I have been addicted to blogging. Now, I check Facebook too many times in the hopes that someone has something to say to entertain me or help me connect with humanity in a meaningful way. 

Recently I talked to a good therapist, and she immediately put her finger on my problem. Through our session, we talked about so many things, and I felt 100 times better when I was done. I think the biggest realization I had was that I can change my modes of operation to improve my situation. I am the captain of my own fate. I am the master of my own destiny. And if I am tired of feeling isolated, I need to reach out. I have been doing so, and it is already helping so much that I even feel like blogging again. 

I guess this post is a way for me to make it public. I am working at stopping being such a lazy extrovert. Let's play.

30 October 2014

Conversation with my Daughter

Me: putting on my full blown Sunday makeup and styling my hair.

Daughter: "Mom, why don't you wear makeup every day?"

I finish the sentence in my own head, "Because wow, you look so much better today."

Out loud: "Because I think I am beautiful whether I wear makeup or not. I like myself just the way I am."

Daughter: "Oh."

Me: "That is why I don't think you need to wear makeup until you are older. I think you are beautiful just the way you are."

Daughter: "Oh."

Please dear daughter, like yourself just the way you are. You are magnificent.

13 October 2014


Recently I wrote a note to Mother Nature on Facebook, reminding her that it is October. I thought she must have forgotten. Thankfully, today did not break the 80s in temperature, and I am very relieved about that.

I have not forgotten my dear little blog. I have just had a lot on my mind. Thankfully, I watched this TED Talk the other morning, and that helped me feel that any stress I am under will not, in fact, kill me, but my body's response to it will help me cope. Hooray.

I am growing a rather large pumpkin, and hoping in future years to grow a legitimately large one. It sounds, from friends who know, like to be a real Big Deal pumpkin it has to weigh over 100 lbs, and I have not weighed mine, but I don't think it does. I will post a picture of it after I have picked it, and it is on the porch with children next to it, to show scale.

 This is my other little pumpkin. Please don't tell him I cross dressed him to advertise his aunty's awesome knitting pattern. He is cute regardless of how he dresses. I could eat him up.

And these are my two oldest pumpkins on the first day of 1st and 3rd grades. Yes, I let them dress themselves, and yes, the girl is better at it. I could use lessons from her.

Now, if you can all pray that our primary program this weekend goes off without a hitch, I will be most obliged.

04 August 2014

About that Mom who "forgot" her baby

First of all, I am putting "forgot" in quotation marks, because this was not a case of "forgetting." This was not a case of thinking, "Oh, I will leave my baby in the hot car for a few minutes and come back and she will be fine." This was a case of evolutionary, your own brain tricks you into thinking the baby is safe in the crib sleeping like she always is when x, y, and z happened first, with disastrous results.

I found out about this tragedy on Friday, and I did not believe it. I did not believe it for several reasons.

1. I know this woman very well. I grew up in the same neighborhood, play with the same friends, and attend the same gym as her. I know that she has occasionally quit going to the gym regularly because she was uncomfortable with the childcare situation. I know that she chose a job she could work at home in order to have opportunities to provide her own personal care for her children. I know that she does not bring her older children to the park on days when she knows friends will be there unless her husband is home to listen for the baby, because she does not like to interrupt her child's sleep. This is the kind of mother to whom this has happened.

2. After reading extensively about how this has happened, I realized that I did not believe it because I did not want to believe it. My brain, and by my brain I mean all of our civilized brains, are hardwired to make meaning and sense out of the world. And this doesn't make sense. We all know what happens to babies in hot cars. We don't want to believe it could happen to us, and so we must vilify the person it happens to in order to make ourselves feel better. But I know this woman. I could not vilify her, because I know her. She is an unusually good parent. I have seen articles going around about how to not forget your child in the car, and I didn't read them because I thought "Who forgets their child in the car?"

Now that I have read these articles, which you should stop and read right now,

Huffington Post
The Washington Post

about how and to whom it happens, I am struggling not only with grief for my friend, but with terror that it will happen to me. Because if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. It could happen to my husband. It could happen to a grandparent who was babysitting my child. It could happen to you. And if you still don't believe that after reading those articles, it's because you don't want to believe, and you (and your child) are in danger. 

A few years ago, my sister was in a terrible accident which left her unable to use her left hand for a long time. Many people prayed for her. Many people offered to help. But there were a select few individuals, who, rather than offer help, actually thought of something on their own and had the courage to make it happen.

One of those people was this woman. She contacted all of my sister's friends, asked them to write loving messages on hearts. She brought the hearts over to my sister's house, and taped them all over the wall. So when my sister, who was wondering if she would ever be able to easily chop vegetables, dress herself, or braid the hair of her first baby girl (who had been born in the middle of the whole ordeal)--when my sister got up every morning, she had a visual reminder of all of the people who loved her. I heard my sister say many, many times what a difference that made.

And now, this kind and tender-hearted woman has suffered an unimaginable loss, which will stay with her for the rest of her life in a way that is worse than every parent's worst nightmare, including mine. So to any internet trolls who have the indecency to say one bad word about her: Shut up. You don't know.

25 July 2014

Happy Pioneer Day

 We celebrated Pioneer day yesterday. I ran home to nurse him, and missed the entire parade, which is a sad consequence of living in a small town. Then we all headed down to the town breakfast and musical program, which was very high quality. Alex sang his infamous version of Follow the Prophet to conclude the program. As you can see above, Kaleb had a grand time at the festivities.
 Grace is with her excellent primary teacher. I only got a photo of the boys eating breakfast, and it was not super exciting, so they are sadly left out of this post.
 And the real reason for this post is here: I have to brag because I am having the best personal tomato year of my life.
Are these tomatoes beautiful, or what? I love the varied colors. I think the yellow/orange ones aren't quite as flavorful as some of the red varieties, but I have to do some more taste testing to confirm that. It is certainly the case with the ample cherry vs. yellow pear tomatoes I have been eating and giving away in abundance.

I have adopted the role of local Zucchini Fairy as a form of therapy for some stresses I am facing right now. So far this summer my family has had all the zukes we want, and on top of that I have given away well over 20 of the little buggers. My grandfather, who taught food science and nutrition on a college level for many years, passed away this spring. I decided that he is watching over my garden, blessing me with this amazing and abundant harvest while I am busy with the baby. Thanks, Grandpa! This photo is of him and my grandma at their 50th wedding anniversary party. I think they are very cute, and now we are praying for Grandma, too. She has recently had to have some very heavy duty things done at the hospital, and her grief is also weighing on her.

In other news, my dear Alex seems to have become a rather decent photographer, whose work is worth looking at if you have not already seen it on the Face Space. You may view some of his work at 500px, HERE.

He also won a place in Really Right Stuff's 2013 Fire contest last year, which you can see HERE.

Well, that is probably enough horn-tooting for this evening. I wouldn't want my genetically big head to get any bigger.

02 June 2014

Surprise, Writing this Post Powered by the Sun!

RMP Baby-1

Rocky Mountain Power sent us a visitor today, and it is a joyous day for Alex. After all of our research, we decided not to do solar unless we won the power company's lottery this spring. We did not win the lottery.

Then we kept talking about solar. Alex has been really interested in and excited about it since we moved. We researched pricing on installing it ourselves, and it was significantly less expensive than paying another company to do it for us. We still couldn't comfortably afford it, so we decided not to do it.

Then we kept talking about solar. Tax refund time was coming up, so we thought, "What if we did a few kilowatts at a time over several years and tax refunds?" That way, while we would not wipe out our power bill in one fell swoop, we could still get started and reap a few of the benefits right away.  Then our cars decided to need all of our tax return this year.

Still, we kept talking about solar. So Alex sold his favorite vehicle, a little jeep we have kept around for a long time, and we scraped together enough money to do about 1/3 to 1/2 of what we will eventually need. He installed it a couple of weeks ago. We had to have an electrician hook it to our meter, and then Rocky Mountain Power sent their technician today to install a net meter, and we are good to go!

We made one funny mistake, so if you do your own, don't do this. You are not supposed to turn your solar on until after RMP comes to make sure all is well. But Alex was so excited, that he left it on for a day or two to watch what the power production was. Then, he decided to look at what it was doing to our meter. The extra power running through the meter was running the meter in the Cost Us Money direction, so we will be paying for that day or so's production. So if you install and test, test briefly! Wait for the net meter to show up.

Another thing Alex came across in his studies: It is less expensive to make your house very energy efficient than it is to pay for more solar panels to run it. So we bought a large quantity of LED lightbulbs last month to decrease our power production. If you live in our county, you should travel north to Iron County and buy your bulbs in Cedar City, because there is a state subsidy in our state for certain areas that cuts the cost of LED bulbs by around $5 a piece. That enabled us to buy almost twice as many lights. 

So that is our solar update. Let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing what this system does to our summer air conditioning bill.

13 May 2014

Chubby Buns Kenobi

The time has come for another exciting edition of Birth Stories by Rowena. As usual, if you don't like to read the details of the miracle of birth, you'll want to just skip over to Pinterest or Facebook right now.

It was a dark and stormy night. Just kidding. Alex and I went to see Captain America last Saturday afternoon, and when we got to his parents' house to pick up our kids after the movie I rather abruptly went into labor. His mother kindly fed us all dinner, and we went home and put the children to bed. I don't know what I did between bedtime and 11:00p.m., but for some reason I did not go to sleep until then. Dumb idea.

My contractions woke me up at about 12:30, after a nice, long, restful 1 to 1.5 hours of sleep. At 1:00 I called the hospital to see what the nurse on duty thought. She was somewhat abrupt, and she told me to drink some water and take tylenol to see if that would slow the contractions so I could get some sleep. I thought to myself, "No, ma'am, I will NOT be stopping my labor with tylenol thank you very much." I did try drinking water, though. I laid back down and proceeded to contract hard all night about 6 to 10 minutes apart, with awesome, deeply helpful 5 to 8 minute naps in between.

By 5:00 a.m. I was done with that, and when I got up to eat something my contractions were 3 to 5 minutes apart. I woke Alex up. We called his mom, and when she got to the house we headed over to the hospital. I called Labor and Delivery again to inform them I was on the way, and the nurse was a lot friendlier, which I appreciated.  When I arrived and they checked me I was dilated to a 4 at around 5:45 a.m.  My contractions had been hard all night, and I had hoped and expected to be further along than that. They called my midwife, and when she came at around 7:00 a.m. I was at a 6. In retrospect, I should have been very encouraged at that point.

However, after a sleepless night, I think most of my logic and willpower was gone. My contractions were still a few minutes apart, and I became more and more exhausted with each one. At about 7:30, I decided that if I was not to an 8 by 8:00, that I would get an epidural. Alex and my midwife were very encouraging and told me they knew I could do it without one. Katie (my midwife) said "What if you are at a 7+," and I said, "I just can't do it anymore. I am SO tired." She said that she could break my water, and that if we did he would probably come within the hour. But I think I had given up by the time I was setting that ultimatum.  Sure enough at 8:00 I was at a 7+, but I demanded the epidural in spite of quality coaching on the part of Alex and my midwife.

Blessed relief (ie epidural) came around 8:30. We broke my water, and only a little came out. I then stalled at an 8 for about 3 hours. That is so unusual for me. Usually once I get to a 7, I finish dilating and the baby comes fast, like within the hour. We tried different positions, and late in the morning another gush of water came out. Finally we tried some pitocin at the end. Kaleb was born at 12:30, and when he came out the nurses and Katie and her student midwife all exclaimed in surprise because he was much bigger than expected at 9 lbs 10 oz, and 21 inches long. When he came out that size Katie said, "It might have been more than an hour after I broke your water at that size."

I had been measuring normally. I had gone off of sweets for three months at the end of my pregnancy, and I walked or exercised religiously at least three times a week the whole pregnancy. I also did zumba once a week for part of the second and third trimesters, all in the hope that he would not be bigger than Scott was. When I walked into the hospital I was over 15 lbs lighter than I was when I delivered Scott. I am not sure exactly how much lighter because I quit weighing myself with Scott at the end. Frankly, I just didn't want to know anymore.

So who knows what good it did me? Maybe he would have weighed 10 + lbs? Just examine the photographic evidence of the cute little giant. He looks about half the size of his sister. Does he look a few hours old? I submit that he looks about as chubby as a two week to one-month old. When they placed him on me, I was filled with joy and SO glad I had had the epidural, because he was such a tank. I try not to think too hard about the fact that I failed in my goal. I just focus on the cuteness, and that helps a lot.