Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This I believe...

1. I believe that there is no such thing as "spoiling" a child when it comes to affection.  Some people think that if you hold a baby too much, you're "spoiling" them.  "Don't hold that baby too much or else they will expect it all the time."  I'm not saying moms and dads cannot take a break when it is needed, but so many parents' attitudes come across as though their own child is inconveniencing them with needing to be held.  Children who form a solid attachment with parent(s) are often the most independent, well rounded children I know.  I will never, ever subscribe to the idea that by holding, snuggling, kissing, or sleeping next to my child is "spoiling" them.  It isn't.  Attachment parenting has many positive benefits for both parents and children.  There is science behind it-chemistry and biology that supports this.  Attachment parenting isn't new and it isn't indulgent.  Attachment parenting IS responding to your baby's needs and believing in the language of your baby's cry.  Babies cry when they need something.  If they don't need a diaper or to eat, then they most likely need you.  This article affirmed my thinking in this way (whether or not it was the author's intention):  when we cry out to God (or a parent or anyone), what do we expect?  We expect an answer.  I will respond to the needs of my child, and when she is crying, what she doesn't need is to be ignored.  Just because I held and carried her in my body for 9 months doesn't mean that her need for me to hold and carry her ceased when she showed her pretty little face to this big, overwhelming world.
She isn't spoiled.

She is loved!
2. I believe in helping my child learn from her mistakes, which spanking is not a part of.  Spanking serves absolutely, positively no purpose in my book.  It only teaches a child fear and violence.  If Ayla hits me, what am I teaching her by hitting?  Nothing.  If Ayla doesn't do what I ask her, what does that teach her?  Nothing.  It may cause her fear of repeating what she did or did not do, but has she truly learned anything from it?  No.  She might stop, but she won't stop for the right reason.  She won't stop hitting because it hurts others and isn't nice-she will stop because she knows she might get hit.  She might listen to me, but it won't be out of respect for me.  It will be because she's afraid I'll hit her.  Fear does NOT equal respect in my book.  I especially like the explanation given here about "Spare the rod and spoil the child."  I won't even bother to rephrase, as the author did a fine job debunking that piece of work of an argument in favor of spanking.  If I allow my child to be spanked in order for her to "obey" or "respect" me, then I should also be willing to allow Brandon to hit me when I forget to put the dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink.  That would teach me, right?
Uh oh, somebody found some mischief.

It is a picture worthy event, but no cause for a spanking. (Note: we solved this problem by talking about dog food and water being for dogs, not babies.  She now helps us feed the dogs daily!)
 3. I believe in moms helping each other instead of tearing each other down.  Moms are a tough crowd.  We all know it all, right?  I believe it is important to surround yourself with intelligent moms that share common parenting goals.  My wonderful friend Amanda of Wife. Mama. Educator. is actually the person who first mentioned extended rear-facing (ERF) to me.  She did it in a positive, factual, loving manner that prompted me to learn more about car seat safety.  She didn't tell me what to do, she merely asked me what my plans were for Ayla's future car seat usage.  It was the first time I'd heard of ERFing, and I don't know if I would've heard it otherwise to be honest.  I may have stumbled upon the info eventually, but who knows?  I can tell you who I wouldn't have heard it from: my pediatrician.  The hospital.  Television commercials or ads in mommy magazines.  The information existed, but nobody was putting it out there in a big way.  That angered me and inspired me to learn more and more about car seat safety.  It bothers me on a daily basis to see the flagrant misuse of car seats.  The most dangerous thing people do on a daily basis is get into their cars.  I have some ideas and dreams for my future that involve my car seat passion, but in the meantime, I hope that I can find a way to gently encourage moms in my life and that I encounter to learn more about car seat safety and implement the safest option for their precious cargo.  I will forever be grateful to my fearless friend Amanda who was brave enough to say something to me without making me feel like a bad mom.  I'm a better mom for it.
Happily extended rear-facing on her 2nd birthday!
"You want me to rear-face until I'm HOW OLD??"
Friends forever!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

untitled

After speaking with my wonderful sister-in-law Jessica this evening, I decided I should probably blog.  We talked a lot about a lot of things (as we always do), and one thing we discussed was being introverted versus extroverted about things.

Most of the time, I am extroverted (could you tell??), but there are indeed times that I am not.  This would be one of those times.

I have a tendency to share too much.  Maybe it isn't too much.  I feel like somehow if I am not sharing all my struggles, my nuances, and my "dirt," I am being less than authentic.  Or I feel like I am pretending.

I realize most, if not all, people have things they prefer to keep to themselves.  I understand that totally.  I just can't shake the feeling that I am somehow a fake, an imposter, when I am not fully disclosing.  


Maybe it is my fear of lacking the perfection I've always strived for (and missed) in my life.


I don't feel like a great mom or even a very good mom right now.  My little one has been being a typical 2-year-old, which includes stubbornness, refusing to listen and/or follow directions, and just general all around craziness.  And it makes me feel crazy.  It makes those anxieties and invasive thoughts just go through the roof.  Those thoughts and feelings make me feel like an awful mom...and totally unworthy of such a sweet, wonderful, precious little girl.  Because if I was a perfect mom, a good enough mom, I'd be totally blissful, joyous, un-frazzled, and unfazed by the stresses of motherhood and life in general.


Sometimes I just don't feel like telling the world I feel like the world's most awful mother when all I want is to be the best mother possible.  There are no words to describe the deep and endless love I have for my daughter...and how I want to be enough for her.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Plus One

This week's Phenomenal Mom Friday post was written by my friend Shanna, whom I've known for 10 years!  Shanna shares her amazing story here:
 
There's a quote that goes something like, "Make as many plans as you want, but ultimately it's God's plan you'll follow." I've heard different versions of it my entire life but only recently did it truly make the most sense.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of growing up, getting married, and having babies. Call me simple and not much of a dreamer. I've always wanted to be a wife and a Mommy. However, when you're little, things seem very simple and as we grow up we learn the world is not as easy going as it appeared when we were children. 
Wedding bells
I married the love of my life, George, 4 years ago this past June 8th. We've been together for 8. He might not be the perfect man, but he's perfect for me. Right off the bat, we knew we wanted kids but decided to have a 'honeymoon' period for a few years before we started trying. When it came to that time, I learned I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Not a problem, it just meant that I had to try less natural ways to get pregnant. Thankfully after two months of taking Chlomid (a fertility drug) we learned we were pregnant. Everything was great. I had no morning sickness, I didn't gain a lot of weight, I didn't have a single problem in those first 23 weeks. Around week 24 I began to swell. A lot. In my hands, feet, face. Everywhere. I knew something was off so I made an appointment with my OB. Over the next couple of weeks, we saw a steady rise in my protein output and in my blood pressures. After the longs weeks of steady increases in all these areas, on March 7th, my entire world changed.

I was 26 weeks, 3 days when I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia. I was promptly transported via ambulance from my near-by hospital 10 minutes from my house in the suburbs of Cincinnati to a downtown Cincinnati hospital who was more capable to handle my prognosis. Upon arriving, they prepared me for a C-Section and told me I'd most likely be having the baby that night. When you think about getting pregnant and having a baby, this is not the ideal situation you picture. My sister in law had a baby in January and everything had gone right for her--All the family gathered, waited for hours in the maternity waiting room.. Everything you think of. Not me. Our family gathered but instead of joyful anticipation, it was terrified horror. It was not the plan for me now. I didn't end up giving birth that night. I was given Magnesium-Sulfate to lower my blood pressure and two steroid shots to help speed up development of my baby's lungs. We needed to make it to the 48 hour mark and we would be out of the danger zone of immediate delivery. And we did. We made it nearly 4 more weeks.

However, in the course of the those weeks, I was hospitalized and on bed rest. And when I say bed rest, I mean 'you can only shower once every other day and only for a 15 minute time period' bed rest! I did what needed to be done for my son. I would stay in bed rest for years if it meant he was healthy. But yes, it was miserable. My husband still had to work, we still had bills. Bills didn't stop because of my current situation. He would stay with me through the week and then work doubles on the weekends to get his 40 hours. When he was gone, my Mother, my sister, my friends..  They came to stay with me and keep me company. Well, most of them did. When something like this happens in your life it's easy to see who really cares about you and unfortunately, who doesn't. So I did have some disappointment while I was there in realizing some of these harsh truths but ultimately, I know God was just showing me more of His plan, not my own.

On March 30th my Pre E finally advanced enough to be transferred to Labor and Delivery. On March 31st I was induced, slowly. On April 1, at just 30 weeks gestation, my son George was born. He was 2lbs 9oz. 15.25 in long. I remember them telling me he wouldn't cry and to be prepared for that considering he was premature. And when I couldn't see him, I finally asked out loud if he was okay and from across the room, behind the haze of NICU doctors, I heard him cry. I had been so tense that I literally felt my body slump back into the bed. It was not from physical exhaustion, because God decided I had had enough problems and deserved an easy delivery. I went from 5cm to Little George being out in a matter of 20 minutes! It was pure relief. My tiny baby was telling me he was okay. 
Happy family
So peaceful!
His first few days were rough. He went from a bubble CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to a Ventilator to a Oscillator in a matter of a day. In the coming days, he made his way back to a bubble CPAP. Throughout April he was able to do 'windows' onto a nasal cannula, which is the thin clear tube people generally think of when they think of someone needing oxygen. However, he had a rough time with that and in May he was only on the CPAP machine, even having to increase his pressures on it. He was able to move out of the isolette and into a 'big boy bed' as they call it. He's never had a problem with gaining weight or brain bleeds or any other common preemie troubles and for that I am so thankful. In May, I also returned to work. Short term disability only covers those 6 glorious weeks immediately after birth and that's it. That has been the toughest part. I know there is not a lot I can really do for him at this point except to hold him and be by his side. But at least when I was off of work, I felt that I could be at the hospital at the drop of a hat. Not now. I'm clocked in and expected to perform my best while my sweet baby is still at the NICU working his best to get better. I'd be lying to say that I've been a good employee since I've been back. There are days that I've woken up and instead of getting dressed for work and heading in to put hours on the clock, I've instead picked up the phone and called in. My heart is not there and some days it's impossible to be anywhere else than with him.
Sweet baby G
Mommy & baby
 This is easily the most confusing time of my life. I'm over joyed, blessed, happy. I'm worried, scared, and heartbroken. And yes, guilt. There are plenty of feelings of guilt even though I know in my head I could have done nothing to prevent this. My heart speaks otherwise. Whatever I'm feeling and wherever this journey takes me, I have a wonderful and supporting husband who has been there for me every minute of every day and sometimes at his own feeling's expense. He has been my rock and I don't know that I could be doing this without him. I believe situations like ours can really make or break a couple. For us, it's only made us stronger. We went into this together. And we'll come out of it together.. plus one. 
Precious!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Love is...

Love is patient, love is kind...famous words that we all know so well.

I'm pretty loved.  The love I experience is all those famous words and more.

Love is...when your mom buys you a fancy sonic toothbrush because she still cares about your oral hygiene that much.


Love is...when your dog lays at your feet, just so you can rub your feet all over her as you nap.


Love is...when you've been away from your daughter and she runs full speed into hugging your legs upon your return.


Love is...when your sister runs the bridge with you, just so you don't have to run alone.

Love is...when you know the person you've left your daughter with is more than a babysitter, when she's with family.


Love is...when your dad cheers so loudly for you during your graduation that your ears still ring all those years later.

Love is...the brother who rushes to the emergency room when you're there.


Love is...when the neighborhood cat keeps coming back, and he's no longer just the neighborhood cat.


Love is...when you still sit side-by-side in a restaurant.


Love is...when no matter how awful you feel, you know that it is all going to be okay.


Love is...when you give up your precious baby blanket to your baby, which she refers to as "Mama blankey" or "Mama" for short.


Love is...here.

About Being A Mom

This week's Phenomenal Mom Friday post comes from a writer who wishes to keep her name and the name of her daughter private.  

Here's her story... 

The day I realized that I was probably pregnant, I was so disappointed. I had committed as a teenager that I would save myself for my husband and for him alone. I committed to purity. And I was doing it. There I was 33 years old and still a virgin and extremely proud of it. Until one day I was pressured to think that if I ever wanted to find someone who would marry me one day that I was gonna have to give it up. Of course, deep down I knew that wasn’t true but I had been experiencing such intense loneliness that I convinced myself that maybe he was right. Maybe I was too uptight.  Maybe if I loosened up a little I would find the love I had always wanted. So, I gave in. Next thing I know I’m missing my monthly cycle and I’m freaking out. 


Shortly after becoming pregnant I found myself also alone. It was just me and the baby growing in my belly. I was so hard on myself for my actions and the bad decisions I was making that led me to that place. And I created in my mind the feeling that other people were going to judge me and criticize me too. But I came to find out that the people closest to me and my amazing church family was not judgmental at all. (At least not the people that I was close to).  I had more support than I could have ever hoped for. The hardest part though was a lack of celebration that I was pregnant.  Usually when a woman gets pregnant there is great joy and elation. The joyful celebration did come but it just took time. By the time the baby shower came people were celebrating WITH me the life that was being formed. 


It’s been just over a year since my daughter was born and I can’t even imagine my life without her. Even though I did not plan her, God did plan her. He knew the exact time and day she would be born before the beginning of time and He has mapped out all the days of her life.  I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in the last two years (since I found out I was pregnant through today). I always thought I understood forgiveness. I grew up in the church and heard all the time that God forgives and forgets. But, God really showed me through this that He TRULY does forgive. It really doesn’t matter what you have done…He will forgive you when you ask Him to. Not only does He forgive you, but He FORGETS it too. You’ve probably heard the scripture verse that states “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us”. I don’t know if you know this, but the east NEVER meets the west. So, when God says that, He is saying that the sin that He is forgiving you of He will never bring up again. It is forgotten as if you never did it. If only people could forgive the same way…If only I could.

Now I am ready to be the best damn mom I can be! And I believe that God has set apart a man for me that He desired from the beginning of time to step in and be her earthly daddy (and my love).  But for now, being a single mom is something that I will do with joy and thankfulness that I get to be a mom at all. I never knew how amazing it would be. My daughter is so much fun and as her personality unfolds right before my eyes I am in awe that God has entrusted her to me. I still have lots of struggles and I still get emotional and upset with myself sometimes, because although God forgives and forgets it’s hard for me to forget.  But when I look into her beautiful blue eyes I am reminded that all is as it should be and she and I are going to be just fine. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sum-sum-summertime!

I've been sitting here for the last 18 or so minutes, just thinking.  Not tired.  Not thinking of anything in particular.  Just sitting, sleeplessly.

Its funny how my summer already feels like its slipping away from me so quickly.  It has hardly begun!  Yet the end of July brings back to work, and I cannot say I am looking forward to it.  Summer, however, has been a transition for me as always.  I can't even remember how we spent last summer, to be honest!

With the end of going to Auntie Dan's house and the beginning of being home for the summer, we've gone through some adjustments to our typical "routine" (not that there was much of one to begin with).  First of all, my little bitty (is not so little) has decided that she wants to wake up as soon as she hears me pee.  So...I lay in bed, full bladder, hoping to catch a few more moments of rest.  Always, and I mean always, when she hears me pee (our bedroom shares a wall with hers and apparently I pee loud??), she starts calling, "Hey Mama?  Mom? (louder) Mama!?"

As soon as I get her, she tells me, "Hold," and once I'm holding her one of two things, "Watch Shrek" (again???) or "Milk."


So, she gets her milk and we usually watch a movie.  (I know, I know...bad mommy).  She will gather up all her Toy Story "heroes" and "villains" to sit with her.  I try to make her a good healthy breakfast of some sort, which she usually refuses to eat.  Or, in super bad mommy mode, I give her a (gasp) pop-tart, which she tries to pick all the filling out of.


Side story:  A couple of mornings ago, Brandon wanted to sleep in, and since he always lets me, I agreed (sadly).  Ayla decided she wanted to wear undies, so I put them on her.  While I was making her eggs, she came over saying, "Makkie, makkie" (nakey aka naked).  She was butt naked.  Okay, whatever.  Keep making eggs.  Then she started whining saying, "Ew, ew!"  I figured she peed, which has happened with our potty attempting this summer.  Nope, she dropped a huge poopy on the floor, then stepped in it.  Great.  As I'm coming over to get her (once the stove is off), Oscar lunges in, wanting to have a little lick.  So I shoo him away and pick her up like a sack of potatoes, followed by picking up the huge turd with a tissue.  We go to the bathroom, where I put her on her potty and get rid of the poop.  I'm cleaning her up, but I run out of wipes.  I tell her to sit while I get more wipes.  "Yeah okay," her reply.  By the time I come back around the corner with wipes, she said, "I pee."  Sure did.  On the floor and rug in the bathroom.  When the potty is 2 feet away.  Superb.


I told Brandon he was never allowed to sleep in again.


Anyway, back to the changes we're going through.  Ayla eats (or not) and plays a little, we read some books, maybe do some coloring.  We've thrown in some play dates and zoo trips to stay busy (the busier the better) also.  But she doesn't want to nap.  I'd be okay with it except that she gets whiny and grouchy, like a toddler who NEEDS a nap.  Mommy needs her to nap!  Somehow, she's decided that since she sleeps till 7:30 instead of being woken up at 6:30 to go to Danni's house, her nap needs to be pushed back from 9:30ish until 3:00.  What??  What the heck??  Mama is not loving this whole nap change-a-roo situation.


After about a week watching movies all day in our pajamas, I decided it was best for my mental health to stay busy.  Somehow, staying in pj's and accomplishing nothing more than brushing my teeth makes me feel so depressed, listless, and BLAH.  Since we've been arranging for play dates, things have been much better (minus the nap sitch).  We've been to the park, swimming, and to the zoo more than once.  We're also trying out Gymboree this week, which should be fun.  I'm just not sure its in our budget (wedding costs!), but I'm not sure we can afford to pass it up if she loves it like I think she will.


I've read some good books so far this summer, and I see a return trip to the library around the corner too.  I've also played around with the idea of trying to take Ayla to the free summer movies since she has a new found love for movies!


Can I mention the fact that it is so hard to consume only 1200 calories a day while being off work all day, every day?  Yeah, losing weight sucks, and I'm not very good at it (obviously after my whole "I'm-so-fat cryfest" the other day).


Stay at home moms, my hats off to you.  You are my hero today and just about every day.  Working moms, my hats off to you as well...it is so hard to be missing all these moments in exchange for the "daily grind."  What's the solution?  The in between??

Friday, June 10, 2011

Life with a Little Girl

Today's Phenomenal Mom Friday post comes courtesy of my dear friend Tori.  Tori is not only a phenomenal mom, but she is also an amazing teacher who works with special education students.  

Here's her story... 

Phenomenal Mom Tori & her precious little girl
I always knew that I wanted to be a mother…ever since I was a little girl. I would play “house” like the average little girl does. I always wanted to be a mother to a precious little boy. While playing “house,” my role was always that of a mommy that had two little boys. I had this set in my mind from the get go.
When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant, everyone started telling us that we were definitely having a girl – believing that sending me pictures of cute baby girls would magically create a little girl inside of me. Friends and family started to look up old wives tales and would guarantee that we were having a little girl. Friends and family began to buy little girl items (pink this and pink that). I would play along with them and say, “Yeah yeah, you will be eating your words when we find out that we are having a little boy!”
I had an early morning ultrasound and during this ultrasound, we had the choice of being told if we had a little girl or a little boy growing inside of me. I had made a deal with my coworkers that I would wear either a pink or blue shirt to work that day – indicating what news we were delivered at the doctor’s office.
The day had finally come. We were having our ultrasound. I had never been so nervous in all my life. I wore a neutral colored shirt into the doctor’s office, but had both a blue shirt (which was newly bought so I could prove my friends and family wrong) and a pink shirt as well. During the ultrasound, they were measuring and moving all around and telling me what the little movements on the screen were. The heartbeat was beating perfectly. It was measuring at 160 at this particular appointment. It always measured at or above 160 at all previous appointments (one wives tale that indicated we were having a girl). The technician asked if we wanted to know the sex. My husband and I excitedly said, “YES!” Holding hands the whole time, watching the little blob on the screen move all over the place, it took forever for her to finish measuring all the different body parts.
Finally, the tech said that the baby’s legs were crossed and asked me to use the restroom – as this normally moves the baby and she would be able to determine if we were having a little girl or a little boy. After using the restroom, the tech said that the baby’s legs were uncrossed and she could tell the sex. She asked once again if we wanted to know. Once again, with so much excitement and anticipation, we both said, “YES!” A few seconds later, she said, “Congratulations! You are having a girl!! You see this right here…” and I don’t remember much after this point in time. She pointed to “hamburger parts” or something along those lines, but I was no longer looking at the screen, but instead, staring at my husband, who was staring at the floor. My heart fell to my stomach – my stomach….the home of a little GIRL. 
Steelers fan already!
How could this be? We had hoped and prayed and wished with all of my might for a little boy. Both my husband and I desperately wanted a little boy! What had I done wrong? Why am I being “blessed” with a little girl? I didn’t  understand and I instantly began to feel as if I had let my husband and myself down. Of course, later on, friends and family joked and said, “Well, you know, it’s really the GUYS that determine the sex. Not you!” That never made me feel better honestly, but I would always laugh along.
We went down to my car to get the PINK shirt. I hate pink. I can’t stand pink. I never wear pink. I did not want to wear pink. I was miserable as I walked into the restroom to change shirts. I came out and by this time, my husband was smiling from ear to ear and he gave me the biggest hug. He whispered in my ear, “We are having a little girl. A little girl, baby!! A little girl!” and I said, “So? I don’t want to go back to work. I don’t want to hear, ‘I told you so!’ from anyone. I can’t deal with anyone right now!” At that point in time, I burst into tears…and there was no stopping them. It was a cool January day and so I had my jacket on over my shirt. I had it zipped as high as it would go…just so no one could see. I didn’t want anyone to see. I didn’t want to hear “YAY!” or “Congratulations!” or “Little girls are the best!” or anything like that.
The 20 minute drive to work, I bawled my eyes out. Again, that feeling of being a “failure” completed smothered me. My sister called and she was the first one that I told. I couldn’t hardly get the words out. Her first question was, “Are you not happy?” and I flat out said, “No. I wanted a boy!” She tried to console me, but nothing was working. As we were talking, my parents, who live in Germany, were calling in. So, I accepted the phone call. My father said with so much excitement, “Soooo, am I a grandfather of a baby BOY or a baby GIRL?” I sobbed into the phone something that no one could understand, but my father understood perfectly. He said, “Oh…my…goodness!! Honey, you are going to have a GIRL!” and then went on and on about little girls being such a blessing and went down memory lane of having myself and my sister. I didn’t hear much of what he said and while I was talking to him, my best friend in Iowa was calling in. As I was nearing work, I told my dad that I wanted to talk to her real quick before I got to work and that I would call him later. I was now asked, “Ok!!! Am I having a niece or nephew?” Again, I sobbed something into the phone that no one could understand, but she understood completely. She started to cry as well…for me. She was elated, because she has two little girls of her own. She started to tell me stories of her two little girls…stories that I already knew…but I let her talk. It was better than me having to say anything.
I finally arrived at my dreaded destination – work. I tried to zip my jacket up higher than it already was, but it couldn’t go any higher. I had promised my coworker that I would tell her first and so I walked into my classroom and she stood there…awaiting the news. I am pretty sure she could see my red and puffy eyes and knew right then and there, but she needed confirmation. I unzipped my shirt half an inch and she saw that little shimmer of pink. She screamed, ran over to me, and gave me the biggest hug ever. I started to bawl all over again. She was crying as well, but our tears were very different. She had so desperately wanted me to have a little girl – had wished it upon us – had rubbed pink blankets all over my pregnant belly. I would always roll my eyes at her, but I wanted her to take all of that back right at that very moment in time. She tried to tell me all kinds of reassuring things, but like with everyone else, it simply went in one ear and out the other.
I had friends stop by my classroom just to see the color of my shirt. I had friends stop me in the cafeteria and the teacher work room and the teacher dining room. I couldn’t hide my gloom and doom. I wore it right out there for everyone to see. People didn’t know how to react or respond to my depressed look. This “look” that I had went on for days. My heart remained in my pregnant belly where I was housing a little baby girl.
My husband then began to address my tummy by the name we had picked out for a little girl – Leala (pronounced Lee-la). This actually snapped me out of my depression – yes, I was actually depressed about this and I guess there is such a thing called “gender depression” or something along those lines. I didn’t want to be like that forever. I kept telling myself that I was being ridiculous – absolutely ridiculous! Then the tears would start again. A very good friend gave me a cd with all songs that had to do with the relationship between parents and their daughter (there are a lot out there and I never knew that). Between listening to that cd constantly and hearing my husband address my tummy as “Leala” now, the tears began to fade away. I began to smile again. I began to look at little girl clothes…but NOT pink clothes.
I told friends and family to please not get us pink and purple items for her…some listened, a lot did not. As my pregnancy continued and we received confirmation once again that yes, we were having a little girl, I was completely and totally happy with this. I, too, would address my very pregnant belly as Leala…it was no longer “the baby”. Towards the end of my pregnancy, soon upon her arrival into this world, I began to feel extremely guilty all of a sudden – guilt about ever wishing that I would never have a girl. I felt as if I was wishing that I would never want Leala and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
A perfect moment
On June 22, 2010, at 9:22 pm, my little girl, Leala Lynae, entered into this crazy world. When I saw her beautiful blue eyes, my blue eyes began to well up with tears. When I saw her peach fuzz on her head, when I saw her perfect little nose, when I watched as she did not cry, but instead, she looked around the hospital room and was probably thinking, “WHERE in the world AM I????”, I fell in love. I fell in love with the most perfect little GIRL ever known to man. Leala is my world. She is my life. She is my heart. She is my everything. She is my soul. She is the air that I breathe. She is the sun and the moon. She makes me want to wake up every morning. She makes me want to be a better person. She has helped me to become a good mom and makes me strive to be the best mom. She has captivated me. She had made me realize that I love her in a way that I could never love another – I never ever once knew that a love like this could and does exist. She is why I am here today…writing this…life with a little GIRL is something that I could never imagine, something that I didn’t know would make me the happiest person in the world. Life with a little GIRL…life with my little Leala girl…is completely perfect. I love her more than life itself and yes, I still feel guilt from time to time, about ever NOT wanting her…if I had only known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time being so down and upset. Instead, I would have daydreamed about the perfect little being that has been brought into our lives. She hasn’t only touched my husband and my life, but the lives around us. Our family members, our friends, people that we don’t even know…everyone that comes in contact with Leala…they are truly touched by her. I would do and have done absolutely anything for her. I have and will continue to sacrifice for her. I have and will continue to love with every fiber in me. 
Snuggles
Life with a little GIRL…is truly great from my point of view!  :)
Reading 
Leala and her parents
 And yes, she does wear pink…but I still hate it! :)
Leala Lynae
 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weighty

My beautiful girl...and me, the me I can't stand looking at in the mirror.
I hate being fat.  I hate it.  I didn't gain that much weight during my pregnancy, only 37 pounds.  Now, while I realize it is suggested to gain only 15-25, I know MANY women who have told me they gained 50, 60, 70, 80 pounds during their pregnancy.  Yet I find myself, today, weighing 3-4 pounds more than when I left the hospital...only 18-20 pounds lighter than I was the last time I got weighed before Ayla was born.
Ick

Being this heavy is ruining my life in a number of ways.  I don't mean to say my life is over or ruined because I'm overweight (technically obese according to my BMI), but it is having so many negative effects on my life.  
Love the belly
I can't buy clothes.  I've tried. Nothing fits, even when I try other sizes.  It is like my body was built all wrong, then add the weight on top of it...screwed. In the last 2 years, I've purchased very few items, barely enough to rotate my clothes.  And nothing I've purchased is a) very cute or b) even my style.  


I can't stand trying to get ready to go out anywhere because I have nothing to wear.  I used to think I had nothing to wear, but boy what I would give for the wardrobe I used to have.


So I don't want to go out.  I stay in.  I've canceled plans and avoided going out because I don't want to deal with it.
...
I look like crap in 99% of the pictures taken of me.  So I stay behind the camera as much as I can.  When the camera is out, I want to disappear, but I don't want to be absent in the pictures of my daughter growing up.  So I don't dodge the camera...but I want to more than anything.
 

When I go out, go to work, or do anything where people see me, I don't even bother.  I don't bother putting on makeup most of the time.  I don't bother styling my hair (a ponytail doesn't count).  I don't care because it doesn't matter...I still look like crap.


Some women can rock being bigger.  I have seen and know women who are my size or even bigger, yet they always look beautiful.  They have a beautiful face or amazing hair, and somehow, they find spunky great wardrobes that make them look amazing. I don't have that beautiful face or stunning hair.  My hair color is beautiful, I admit, but it doesn't ever cooperate when I try to fix it.  So working on my hair and face is a waste because it doesn't really matter...it doesn't make me look any better.  


My size makes me feel worthless.  It makes me feel inadequate.  I feel like no matter where I go, people see this fat, ugly girl with a cute daughter and wonder where she got it from.  Somehow, I feel my size makes me less worthy of people's friendship and love.  I feel like it negates all my good qualities.  I'm the fat smart girl.  I'm the fat blogger. 


With two months to go before my dress fitting, I realize I will also be the fat bride.  I dread the day I get back my wedding pictures because you can't edit out a double chin.  You can't edit out flabby arms.  It breaks my heart.  Your wedding day is the day you are supposed to be at your most beautiful.  It is the one day of your life you will have more pictures taken short of becoming a paparazzi-loved celeb.  The stress and pressure I feel about how I'm going to look on my wedding day is casting a dark shadow over all the other wonderful things I am looking forward to about our big day.  It makes me want to cancel everything and go to the courthouse...except I can't.  We've paid so many of our vendors...so I'll be the fat bride.  I worry that I will cry on my wedding day when I'm getting ready...crying because of how awful I feel about how I look.


I've tried.  I've tried so many things-South Beach, Zumba, running, calorie counting, personal training.  No matter what I do, I just can't lose the weight.  That feeling leaves me torn between wanting to binge eat everything in sight and just say f-ck it and not wanting to eat anything and lay in bed all day, depressed.  I watch women all around me have babies and bounce back within months of having their baby.  And here I am 2 years later, still fighting a losing battle. 


I'm not looking for someone to give me weight loss tips-I know them all.  I've lost weight before, quite successfully.  I'm not looking for someone to tell me I'm beautiful just the way I am.  I just can't hold it all in anymore...I just have to let it out.  Vulnerable, messy, and real.  This is how I feel.


If only I could go back in time and be "fat" like I used to think I was...
Brandon's 24th birthday
Getting ready for Daughtry

Ronin Photo

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." -Marion C. Garretty
<3

Monday, June 6, 2011

Puppy love

If you have ever perused Craigslist, you have probably seen the plethora of cats and dogs being given away because the owners "don't have the time to give him/her the attention he/she deserves."  Or they've had children and no longer can care for their pet.  The list goes on and on.
 
The people I actually feel bad for are the ones who can no longer afford to feed their pets.  Or people with pets who don't respond to training and are capable of causing physical harm to family members. 

I'm not saying the decision to get rid of a pet comes easily.  I know it is heart-wrenching.  Growing up, I watched my dad get rid of dogs we had for various reasons.  I hated it.  The day we had to take MY dog, Bo Jangles, to the animal shelter, I was heartbroken.  I was 4.  I will never forget that day.

Is it hard to give animals the love and attention they deserve?  Yes.  We certainly struggle in our own way.  We know our dogs are chubby and ornery because they don't get walked enough.  But we know they have a big backyard to play in, lots of toys to play with, and they have each other, which is a huge blessing.

In times when finances are difficult, I understand that buying pet food, medicine, toys, and other essentials can be a huge strain.  As I've mentioned before, I've had times where I wondered which I'd have to give up-putting gas in my car or buying groceries.  Luckily, we've always gotten by and are surrounded by supportive family and friends.
It breaks my heart and at times angers me to see people getting rid of their pets.  Trust me, I understand wanting to.  After having toy after toy and shoes upon shoes destroyed by little Oscar, I have hastily posted on Facebook that I'm selling him.  That I'm over it, for real this time.  But even in those very angry moments, I know that I will not get rid of him.

I love him.  Ayla loves him.  He poses no threat to anyone in our family, and he has helped calm Boo's extreme anxiety issues in a huge way.  He is a family member.  Same goes for Boo.  Boo went through those unbearable puppy years where she destroyed things (including a pair of pants from Brandon's new suit years ago) and pooped everywhere and just plain acted a fool.  But she is our first baby.
She is the best dog in the world now.  I am so glad we had patience with her.  The money and time invested in training classes was well worth it.  The classes were frustrating; she was always the "Marley" of the class.  On more than one occasion, I cried during class because she just wasn't doing (fill in the blank) correctly.

She's watched over Ayla as an infant, coming and barking at us if Ayla made a peep while we actually dared walk away to use the bathroom or shower.  Now, she patiently lays on the floor while Ayla rides her like a horse.  She is always eager to help clean up Ayla (and the floor) after dinner.  Boo and I have a habit of taking naps together.  When Oscar gets on my nerves, Boo knows it and drags him away to go wrestle.
Oscar, well, he's getting better.  He destroys less things around the house as days go by, he isn't pottying in the house, and recently, he has shown me that with his response to commands using good treats, he is highly trainable.  I won't give up on him.  And I won't put Ayla through the pain of giving up a pet that was brought into the family, meant to be a lifelong member.

I hate to think of the day that we lose our puppies...the day when we have to say goodbye.  It will break our hearts.  But at least I will know when they leave this earth that we created years of memories and love with them because even death cannot take those things away.  Our animals will know that they are loved, no matter what, just like a parent loves a child no matter how much mischief they get into.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

10 things...

Tonight's blog is randomness...enjoy!

1. I am going through my closet and getting rid of stuff.  I have nothing to wear as it is, so this will leave me with less, but I'm doing it.  (And hope eventually I might actually lose some weight with my current program of exercise and diet).  One thing I will not get rid of is my pre-preggo jeans.  Not throwing in the towel on getting back into those...
2.   People who put their babies on "eating schedules" annoy me.  I'm sorry, but I don't restrict myself to eating/drinking on a timed schedule, so I certainly don't expect an INFANT to follow one.
3. I can't wait until we get the flooring done in the mudroom and kitchen.  Our flooring is awful, I don't even like looking at it or walking on it.  It is the one thing I truly hated when we looked at this house.
4. My sister is awesome.  I love spending time with her.  She is really an amazing individual, so smart and funny and real.  I hope that as our lives continue we stay close.
5.  I am still having my internal crisis about purpose, career, etc.  I'm pretty sure I'm not any closer to a solution or a-ha moment than I was when I first blogged about it months ago.
6.  Oscar, my little turd-face of a dog, has actually been pretty good lately (I will probably regret typing that "out loud").    He even took a nap with me today.
7. I love books and magazines.  I recently just finished reading Water for Elephants, which was good-I read it nightly until I finished-but it wasn't amazing.  (You know a book is amazing when you stay up way past your bedtime reading it-this one I could put down and go to sleep).  After reading it, I understand why it was made into a movie, and I'd dare to bet that the movie is even better than the book.
8. 4 months and 3 days until our wedding.  Whoa!  I am very excited that we finally decided on our first dance song (since "our" song isn't really a "first dance" type song...and probably better as a private moment instead of when we're on display for everyone to watch).
9. Ayla is 2, which equates to lots of independence, amazing amounts of verbalization, whining, and the realization that our toddler has become quite her own little person.  I loved her as a baby, but this stage is so incredible-I am really enjoying it more than any other stage so far.
10. I've been thinking about my grandpa Leroy a lot this week, as my parents have finally been able to go and attend to his trailer and carrying out his last wishes.  It is hard to believe he's been gone 15 months already.  How I wish he could be there to watch me walk down the aisle, to see Ayla walking and talking (he wrote about coming down to FL to see her when she started walking and talking...which she didn't do until about 4 months after he died).  I am so grateful for him and our reconnection at the end because I haven't had any other true experience of a grandparent.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Life After Death - Parenting doesn't stop when you lose one parent.

I am very excited to bring you the first guest post for Mama Speaks new series, "Phenomenal Mom Fridays."  This post was written by Gillian, author of What the Hell MamaI met her many years ago (through my best friend Henriette, a close friend of Gillian's), on the day her daughter Allyson was born.  

Here's her story...

Single parenthood is not uncommon in society today. A lot of it is a choice, a result of a failed relationship, or a parent that just doesn’t want to take responsibility for the child(ren) they helped create. Then there are those of us who become single parents as a result of tragedy. 
Gillian and Chris

Rewind to January 28, 2009. My children were really young. Allyson was four years-old and Dominic was two years-old. Their father, Chris, and I were up watching a movie and having some “quality time” when he suffered a brain aneurysm and died instantly. There was a lot of craziness that became involved as part of his death, a visit from DCF, amongst other things, as if this wasn’t hard enough to deal with. 
Baby Ally with her daddy, Chris

How do you explain to a young child that their father wasn’t coming back? He was there when they went to sleep, but not when they woke up and life became hectic. All of a sudden, I was the only parent. Yes, I had my parents and other family members, but it wasn’t enough. No one could understand the feelings and emotions I had. Not only was I dealing with my own mental health in handling the death of my lover and best friend, but also I was dealing with being the single parent and being concerned with the well-being of my children. At first, it wasn’t easy because they didn’t understand the concept of death, heaven, angels, etc. I told my daughter that daddy had a boo-boo on his brain and went to heaven to be with the angels. What else could I say? 

Life went on. We moved in with my parents the same day Chris died and tried to keep life somewhat normal for the kids. It was crammed with all of us there, including my sister, who was expecting. We made due. Obviously with children so young, they wanted them to begin seeing a grief counselor. They had a woman go to the school to see them once per week. She would call me or catch me at work and tell me her blah-blah-blah for the week, only for me to find out that she wasn’t doing a thing for them but sitting on her butt on the phone or doing paperwork while she let Allyson or Dominic run around and play on the playground. I was mad. Once Dominic changed schools, one of his teachers suggested another office to contact and so I did. The doctor, therapist and other staff is great and understands the struggle we’ve been dealing with. The behavioral and emotional issues are still ongoing and I’m not sure if they are a result of losing their dad or just things that are there. 

Shortly after, I met a wonderful man who I began to see. I was hesitant to “date” someone because of the baggage I felt I was carrying. I was fragile to say the least. When I met Kris (yes, I know…), he understood that I wasn’t 100% and that my heart was broken. When I finally decided it was time for him and the kids to meet, I was really nervous. The time came and it was a little shaky. A new man was in our lives and he WASN’T their father. They took to him like a fish to water. He has become quite a father figure for them. They love him and he loves them. 
Ally with Kris  

Fast forward to present times. The kids, Kris and I live have been living together for a little over a year and life is domestically normal. We have the mom and dad figures with the two little ones.  There are times where I still feel like the single parent I once was and those times can be especially trying. Both of my children have emotional and behavioral issues. This makes it the most difficult. We have a loving, supportive man in our lives, a daddy. 
Dominic and Kris