Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Let me tell you a personal story about failure and success.
I should start from the beginning. With my second pregnancy I gained a lot of weight – more than I should have. Part of that was due to exercise limits from heart problems, but more of it was due to the fact that I was pregnant during Louisiana summer and I only wanted to lay on the couch in the air conditioning and not move.
No big deal, I thought, I’ll lose it all when I breastfeed. Did I lose some of it? Yes. Did I lose all of it? A big fat NO. After I had Sarah, the weight came off with almost no effort. I nursed, I exercised some and it flew off. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in 6 months.
I sort of want to punch that version of myself in the face. Or, really, I just want to grab me from three years ago and say, “Do you KNOW how lucky you were?!” Because Baby #2? Yea, that’s not happening. I don’t know if it’s because this is a second baby, or I had a c-section this time, or a combination of the two, but this extra baby weight has been clinging to me with a death grip despite the fact that I’ve been nursing a baby for nearly 10 months.
I’ll admit, at first I had zero motivation to try to get the weight off. Part of that was total lack of sleep, and the other half was me desperately clinging to the hope that the breastfeeding weight loss would kick in any day.
When that didn’t happen after several months down the road, I decided I had to do something. My first attempt at “something,” was trying the Paleo diet where you essentially eat foods a cave person would. I know a lot of people who have had success with it and you get to eat as much of the designated foods as you want! I quickly discovered Paleo wasn’t for me. For one, it dried up my milk supply, and for another, I need some grains, dairy and wine in my diet to stay sane and I refuse to believe legumes are bad for you. Paleo and I were not a good fit.
Exercise, I decided, was what I really needed. I started going back to my regular spin class… except that I quickly learned it’s super popular now and I’m never quick enough to get a bike reserved, so I slowly stopped doing that. Finally, I decided to try out my gym’s new studio location near my house. While it has some equipment, it’s mainly all group fitness classes, which is what I love. I took a class there and was hooked. I signed up.
After that, I seriously went home and prayed for the strength to take care of my body and to get the weight off. Whatever it took, I wanted the fortitude to do it.
And then, the stars started aligning. My sisters decided the three of us would support one another on a weight loss challenge. And because we have a tight budget and we were laying down some money for the gym, I felt obligated to go as much as possible. With my sisters’ encouragement I downloaded the MyNetDiary Pro app to track my calories and exercise (including ones burned through breastfeeding so I’d still be ok there).
What started as an obligation to go to the gym (I promised myself at least two – three days a week), started becoming a strong desire to go to the gym. I quickly started going four days a week – five when my schedule allows it. And because I hit the gym on my lunch breaks, I bring my lunch to work, thus allowing me to control my calorie intake and my eating out budget and prevent me from eating the whole Indian Restaurant buffet.
Then my second cousin and fitness instructor, Libby of LibbFit, asked me about doing some graphic design and trading out her fitness expertise. You better believe I jumped on that.
And just like that, I discovered that the scale was finally, FINALLY moving down again. Just this morning I saw the lowest number on the scale I’ve seen since giving birth.
I finally understand (and remember) WHY people who are into fitness are always so happy and jazzed about it. It may suck while I’m doing it, but afterwards I feel amazing. In a month’s time I’ve dramatically increased my strength and helped ease a mean, nasty, fiery spot of post c-section nerve pain / scar tissue in my lower, right abdomen. My classes are varied, ranging from pilates and yoga to cardio and weights.
Is it hard? Sometimes it’s so hard. But the reward has been amazing. I finally feel like my body is waking up and my mood has bloomed into something much happier and optimistic. I’m more patient with my children and kinder to myself. I even managed to say no to my favorite ice cream and amazing looking cake at work this morning. It’s exciting and it’s humbling.
I still have a long way to go and weight to lose before I even hit my pre-pregnancy numbers. I often have to do modified moves at my Piyo and Body Attack classes, but I’m doing it. And really, that’s what matters.
Here’s my picture for my Piyo Challenge group I took this morning. We had to take a whacky planking picture.
P.S. Thanks to Cassie for encouraging me to write this post.
Sarah started taking swimming lessons with her cousin Jacob last week. They are taking private lessons with a friend of mine from high school who has been teaching lessons for years. When we arrived at the pool, the kids had very different reactions.
Sarah immediately panicked and refused to get in the water past the first step. Jacob plunged in like he was a merman come home. The lessons proceeded accordingly with Sarah screaming and crying when the instructor tried to convince her to get in, and Jacob attempting to march off to the deeper end of the pool on his own with no flotation devices. Pretty soon Jacob was on the kickboard, looking to all the world like the next Olympic champion. Sarah slowly warmed up, and by mid lesson was blowing bubbles in the water before crying that water got in her eyes.
We kept an eye on them both the whole time from the poolside, while we simultaneously held babies and talked. Thank goodness we were watching because Jacob, in his confidence, went a little too far into the pool, while the teacher was on the opposite side of the pool with Sarah, and suddenly he was in too deep. For a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity, we saw him start to scramble and go under. Shannon and I raced to the pool with babies in our arms. I honestly can’t remember the next few moments exactly. All I know is that I saw Shannon jump in the pool while still holding Norah, and then I started to panic as I tried to figure out how to also rescue my baby while holding a one month old. Fortunately, my sister kept her cool and somehow managed to tilt and angle her body so Norah stayed above the water while she simultaneously rescued Jacob with the other arm. I immediately reached in and grabbed Norah from Shannon with my one free arm.
Just like that the moment of panic was over and everyone was ok, at least physically.
We quickly discovered, however, that our little merman no longer had any desire to get back in the swimming pool. We made him take one last lap around while holding on to the teacher, and he grudgingly obliged, but he was not happy.
Fast forward to this past weekend. We went over to a friend of Shannon’s to go swimming. We had high hopes that we would get Jacob in a floaty and in the pool with his mama and show him everything was fine and safe – no such luck. Jacob wanted nothing to do with the pool – he refused to even get his feet wet. He cried and cried at our many attempts and suggestions to get him in. At one point he stepped in ants and still refused to dip his poor little ravaged feet in the water.
Sarah, who is getting a little braver each day, sat on the top step of the pool, patted the space next to her and asked Jacob to sit by her. No luck.
We go back for our next lesson on Thursday. I have complete faith that their instructor will help him overcome the fear as much as possible, but is there any way that you can think of that will help him get near the pool again?
Sometimes life will give you those once in a lifetime moments. One such moment came for me when my sister asked me to be present for the birth of her son. That’s a big gift and a lot of trust to give to someone. When you’re laboring, your emotions and body are bare and you need to be surrounded by people you love and trust. I’m so thankful my sister counted me as one of those people.
It was so neat to experience labor from this side, having gone through it myself before. The whole process truly is amazing and I’m proud to say I never once felt faint or woozy. Shannon had a great team of people coaching her and pushing her through it, and she birthed her big ole nearly 9 pound baby boy like a champ.
The experience also allowed for some once in a lifetime photos. It was so amazing to be able to capture these moments.
Here were some of my favorites.
Welcome to the world Landon Robert. Your Auntie Jess already loves you so much. And way to go Shannon! You are one amazing mama.
Yesterday I had lunch with Kim, a good friend of mine who regularly puts me through my thinking paces about everything from astrology to politics to faith and religion. I love talking with her, because she often forces me to think about important things that I often gloss over in lieu of the day-to-day necessities of life. And even when we don’t agree, we can still talk civilly and learn from one another. It was so great to take a time out to sit, and talk, and think.
As conversations often go with Kim, I started telling her about a “theme” that seems to be continually hitting me over the head this past month or so. When I explained to her how it kept popping up, Kim looked at me in the eyes and said, “Jess, it sounds like you have an article writing you.” And, of course, she was right.
When Norah got croup, and then RSV, I found myself simultaneously upset that she was so sick, feeling all of her pain and suffering ten times over, and battling this great, guilty ball of sleep deprived frustration. When, I wondered, will I ever sleep again?
But on these many sleepless, frustrating nights, I would close my eyes, rock the baby and let my mind wander. And, so many times, it kept finding its way to a Mass I recently attended where one of our seminarians was ordained to a deacon. Weird, I know. But the moment that kept popping out in my head was when the bishop, during his homily, spoke about sacrifice. And while on that particular occasion the sacrifices he spoke of were the ones deacons and priests make when they choose a vocation in the church, he could have been speaking to any parent. When big moments happen in our lives, he said, they often require great sacrifice. And it is in making these sacrifices, often of things we desperately want, that we learn who we truly are and what we’re made of.
Not to be outdone, I’ve been following along with Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten reflections, reading in the middle of the night, when one about Mother Theresa surfaced:
“By emptying out the self in love for the other, we become filled to the brim with the divine life… The secret to joy is self-giving love. Mother Teresa imparted that to her sisters, and she offers the same lesson to us.”
I know that I am not perfect and I know that I need time to myself to stay sane, but I also need moments to knock me over the head and say, “You know what? Yes, this is hard, this is really really hard sometimes, but your girls need YOU. They want their mother. They need their mother. And this sacrifice of sleep, of time, of my body (and occasionally sanity), not only shows me how deep love can go, but it infinitely helps, nourishes and heals the two most precious little souls to me on this earth.
And if that doesn’t show me what I’m made of, or teach me joy through self-giving, I don’t know what will. How blessed I am to be given this amazing family.
It started with a cough, my cough. But I trudged through it thinking that it was from lack of sleep. Within a week Sarah started coughing so hard that she was throwing up in her bed at night. 24 hours after that Norah was coughing. By Wednesday, we were all feeling so rough that all three of us went to the doctor.
I had a sinus infection. I started antibiotics and some awesome prescription cough medicine and was feeling better within 24 hours. It was deemed that Sarah and Norah both had viral infections and that with time and patience they would resolve themselves. Sarah took Benadryl at night and was just fine.
Norah, however, started getting progressively worse. By Friday night she was running fever, unable to eat and crying this low, steady whine for all but 2 hours at night. Any time I would lay her down she would cough uncontrollably and wake up crying. So we stayed in the recliner and she slept on me. By Saturday morning I was in tears. Sleep deprivation had kicked in, yes, but Norah’s slow and steady whine of pain was breaking my heart and had me in tears. I waffled on whether or not to take her back to the doctor, but ultimately decided that things had gotten worse, not better and it was time to act.
Fortunately our pediatrician’s office has a few Saturday morning hours and we were able to get there quick. The doctor checked her ears and immediately saw that they were full of pus. However, there had been a case of RSV in Norah’s daycare class, so they swabbed her for that just in case. And wouldn’t you know it, it came back positive.
For those of you unfamiliar with childhood diseases, RSV is a virus that infects your lungs and airways. For adults and older children, it’s not so bad. It just manifests itself as a cold and moves on. For babies though, especially babies under six months old, it can be very dangerous. I know three babies personally who have been hospitalized with RSV.
So when the doctor sympathetically told me she had RSV, I felt panic start to grip my chest a little bit. The doctor could see it written all over my face, I’m sure. But he was so great. He told me that he listened to her breathing and she didn’t sound bad. As long as she was having four wet diapers a day and breathing ok we could treat it at home.
Fortunately my sister has a nebulizer, so we borrowed that from her and we’ve been able to do breathing treatments at home. Norah is such a champ about them, mesmerized by the buzzing noise it makes as it turns the albuterol into breathable steam. It hypes her up some, but it makes her feel so much better and her breathing and coughing ease for a few hours after doing a treatment.
My mom picked Sarah up Saturday and kept her overnight so I could devote my attentions to the baby. And we spent most of the day and evening Saturday in the rocker so she could sleep upright. Fortunately though, the breathing treatments started easing things for her so she was finally able to get some good rest in her own bed that evening.
Since then she’s been back and forth, sometimes having moments of feeling better and we get to see the occasional smile. Mostly though, she just wants to be rocked and doesn’t want to eat. She did wake up without fever for the first time this morning though, so that was a great sign.
Our biggest concern is now is keeping her hydrated. She won’t eat much because her nose is clogged and her ears hurt. And when she does get some down, her stomach is so full of mucus that she often throws it back up. We have trouble keeping the medicine down her too for that reason. I have to keep reassuring myself, she’s making enough wet diapers that she should be ok. The middle of the night is when she does her best feedings (of course), so some milk is staying down.
The doctor said this will likely be a 5-7 day run of illness before she gets truly better. I never knew how much becoming a mother would turn me into a big ball of empathy, feeling everything they feel 10 times worse. Please keep us in your prayers as our little girl continues to heal.
Oh hi! Remember me? It’s ok, I barely remember my own name these days.
Let’s start with this precious begonia.
Remember how I told you that she started sucking her thumb and was sleeping for 12 hours straight? Too bad that was just a fun, short break. Now she’s entered what Google has informed me is the four month sleep regression phase. Long story short, she startles herself awake at least three times a night now, wakes up, starts chirping like an overzealous bird and refuses to go back to sleep. This means that I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night, with no chance to nap because I’m back at work again. Fun times!
I mean it’s really a very good thing that she is oh so adorable… even if that does mean she starts laughing at me somewhere around 3 a.m. when I start pulling my hair out.
Speaking of pulling hair out, I have entered that joyous post partum phase where all of my hair is falling out. I brush it once and suddenly my hairbrush has been transformed into a pathetic looking chinchilla. My hair has gotten so thin that I’m starting to wonder if I have any strands strong enough to hold on. I’m thinking about giving it a good chop and letting it start over.
In other fun news, Norah caught croup from school, struggled to breathe one morning last week and gave me a panic attack. I took her to the doctor and they started her on steroids right away. They fixed her up in a matter of hours and she was thrilled to ride that sleeplessness side effect into every single night she was on the steroid.
We also had Sarah’s first “snow day” last week… which meant we had a pretty neat ice storm with accumulation. I know I have friends who live up north and may laugh at this, but we residents of the deep south are not equipped for such things, so schools were canceled and I got to stay home with my girls and slip slide across the icy backyard with my poor, confused dogs. Sarah enthusiastically declared, “Mama! It’s Frozen like the movie!” Poor kid, that may be the closest she ever gets to a real snow. We don’t even own gloves. I had to take a note out of my friend Susan’s book and put socks on her hands.
And me? Well besides the fact that I’m not sleeping and all my hair is falling out, I seem to be holding up moderately well. I joined a book club with a friend locally, and I get one day a month to go out, have a drink, eat and talk about books with friends. And these folks have extremely different reading tastes than I normally do, but it’s been great because it has forced me to read books out of my default YA zone. And the first book we read, while it had a boring start, ended up being a really interesting read. (And we got to discuss it while I ate a sweet potato pancake, blackberry grits and enjoyed a mimosa!)
We are also getting ready to replace half the floors in our house. We initially thought we were going to pay someone to install it, but Mark and I are just too cheap. When we learned the install price was double the actual floor cost, we decided to tackle the project ourselves. And by we, I mean Mark. He has been demoing our current floors and prepping them so we can install the new. So on top of mountains of princess toys and legos, we now have concrete and dust. All in good time!
And speaking of Mark, I’d like to just take a moment and tell you how proud and thankful I am for him. The man has been my rock during this whole sleep regression thing, and even had an awesome daddy-daughter day with Sarah last weekend so I could make an attempt at getting some extra rest. They colored with sidewalk chalk and walked to Dairy Queen to get ice cream cones that they enjoyed on the patio. Because, yes, even though we had a snow day Wednesday, by Sunday it was 75 and perfect patio weather.
Having a second kid is kind of strange. On the one hand, it’s a lot harder to have to figure out how to split your time between both of your children, how to make sure everyone is fed and happy, and don’t even get me started on the effort it takes to get everyone ready to go and out the door.
But on the other hand, it’s so much easier. I have done this all before and I know I will not only survive it, but I’ll do it pretty well and be prepared for the many other disasters and illnesses that loom on the horizon.
With Sarah, she would run a 100 degree fever and I would be frantically calling after hours at the pediatrician’s office, texting my doctor friend Susan and my nurse friend Cassie, and then grilling people about how in the heck they combat these fevers.
With Norah, she spiked a 102 fever in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago, and even though I felt that little panicky edge in my stomach, I immediately went into action with Tylenol, stripping her down and laying a cool rag on her head until I was happy with her 100 degree fever.
With Sarah, I would run and hide in back rooms when I nursed her, and felt like I constantly had to justify why I was still nursing her when she was older than six months. This time? I cover when I nurse, but I don’t usually leave the room (unless I need a time out). That’s lonely and, I think, was a contributor to my PPD last time. And you won’t hear justifications this time – it just is how it is and we roll with it.
And my husband? I’m even more proud of him this time around. When we first had Sarah, he had a hard time being alone with her. Granted, a lot of that had to do with her staunch refusal of bottles, but more of it had to do with uncertainty. This time though, he’s a changed man. Norah has been running low-grade fever after getting her shots yesterday, and he volunteered to keep her home with him while he worked so she could rest. And he handles both girls with such ease now. He let me get some extra rest last weekend and when I got up the three of them were huddled together on the living room floor playing.
Are there still worries? Of course. I think worrying and guilt are inherent to parenthood. The difference is that I know it’s going to be ok (eventually). We certainly aren’t perfect and we have a lot of trying moments and days, but we will get there and we will do it together.
As I was looking back through photos from this past year, I found myself in awe over just how big my Sarah girl has grown. She looked like such a little baby way back in January, but now she is a big, talking, silly little girl. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about 2013, but we, mostly, had a really fantastic year.
I typed up a pretty lengthy summary, but feel free to skip all that and just watch the video.
In January we found out we were expecting another baby, which changed our whole world. Sarah would no longer be an only child, and my yearlong obsession with getting pregnant again came to a close. We let our families know we were expecting by allowing Sarah to walk into their homes proudly wearing a “Big Sister” shirt.
In February we took Sarah to her first Mardi Gras parade – the animal parade downtown. We missed the others we had planned to take her to thanks to illness. She also got sick on Valentine’s Day for good measure. We also got to see our little bean on the ultrasound for the first time that month too!
In March I quickly discovered that pregnancies show much faster the second time around. We spent a lot of time playing outside and going to friends’ birthday parties. We spent Good Friday at the pediatrician’s office after Sarah landed herself with croup. This meant we couldn’t go to church for Easter, but Nana and grandaddy were willing to let her come around them, so we visited there and hunted down a few Easter eggs.
In April Sarah turned two and we celebrated with a Alice and Wonderland themed “Mad Tea Party” in our backyard. Friends and family came and jumped in the bounce house and ate homemade cupcakes. A few days later my nephew Jacob turned two and we celebrated at his construction themed party. Sarah also got to meet her “Italian granny,” Sr. Martinette Rivers, while she was home for a month.
May was super exciting! Not only did we learn that we would be having another little girl, but we took Sarah on a big vacation that included her first trip to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We hit up the aquarium and ate lots of great food before heading to the beach in Florida. We stayed there with Susan and her family and had a great time in the sand and water. Sarah still talks about the beach all the time. We will have to plan another trip in 2014!
In June my friend Tammy and her daughter Kiri came down for a visit from Indianapolis. I also got a new, bigger, family- sized vehicle that month to replace my tiny, but wonderful, Honda Fit. I also went to my conference in Denver in June with my friend Becki. In addition to the conference (where we won a big award for our magazine!), we ate at a lot of Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants, went to the top of a mountain and checked out some campy museums. That was the longest I’d ever been away from Sarah!
In July our cat Sam ran away and never came back. We held out hope for a long time without any good news. We also went to Austin in July to visit our friends Dana and Scott. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool with the kids, and I loved the comfort the pool gave my growing pregnant body. Mys sisters also threw me a “Baby Sprinkle” in July, where close friends and family came and brought lots of goodies for baby #2, including some much needed diapers!
In August I started having excruciating pain in my right side that lead to several rush trips to the OB’s office and lots of tests. A GI doc finally figured out that I had a bulging ligament that was pressing on a nerve. When the baby would move a lot, she would hit that spot and it would get inflamed. It was horrible! We also went to Baton Rouge in August to see my Aunt Amy get married and I had a great time with my whole family and spent more time in the pool!
In September my coworkers threw me a baby shower and we started preparing ourselves for Norah’s scheduled c-section on September 23. Due to some horrible problems with Sarah knotting up her hair, we took Sarah to get her first haircut. On September 11 I was rear-ended and, for the sake of my 9 month pregnant baby, was taken by ambulance to a hospital where I stayed overnight to make sure we were both ok. I also had a false labor run on my sister’s birthday, and then went into labor for real on September 20, three days before my scheduled section. We welcomed Norah into the world at 12:38 p.m. and were immediately in love with our beautiful little girl.
I started October off by turning 29! Cassie came to visit from Pittsburgh and helped us clean and paint our house while she was in town. October is also when we began the long, hard road of dealing with colic. Norah kept us up every single night screaming hour after hour after hour. It quickly unfolded into months of sleep deprived torture. Mark and I learned the true meaning of being a team and worked out a way to take shifts with her all night long. It was terrible. We also took both girls trick-or-treating in October. Sarah went as Olivia the pig and Norah as Minnie Mouse.
November gave us no relief from the colic, but we learned that Norah loved the Moby wrap and we put her in that often. Sarah also learned to start sleeping through the long nights of screaming. We also took Norah to meet her great grandparents who live an hour away. We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents house.
In December we started counting down until Norah turned 12 weeks – the magical age when the doctor and several friends said colic usually stops. At 12 weeks and 4 days old, Norah slept through the night for the first time because she found her thumb. We rejoiced! We took the girls to meet Santa (Sarah hated him, Norah liked his beard). We decorated for Christmas and then celebrated it with our families. It’s also the month Norah got her first honest to goodness cold – the same cold the whole family managed to share just in time for the holidays.
A new baby, a couple of big trips, a new car and a lot of love. You were good to us 2013!
Our first Christmas as a family of four was wild and fun and exhausting.
It started when Sarah caught some sort of coughing snot virus that she passed on to me by coughing directly into my mouth. So nice of her, huh? And instead of resting and recovering (hah!) I spent my time prepping for Christmas Eve and Day by cleaning and baking and wrapping like a crazy woman. I may have been feeling bad, after all, but Norah’s first Christmas would be memorable. And this was really the first year Sarah understood the whole Santa Claus thing and had requests.
The Christmas list of a two-and-a-half-year-old was surprisingly specific and included some of the following items:
1. Doc McStuffins shoes (Santa had to go to eBay for that one).
2. A Puppy Princess (Ummmm?)
3. All the mermaid things ever made.
4. A Doc McStuffins doll and a Sofia doll.
5. Butterfly wings.
6. Daisy Duck.
And she informed me that Sister wanted a ladybug.
We spent Christmas Eve eating Chinese food with Mark’s family and opening gifts. I have to say, Christmas presents are much more fun with kids in the mix. We all sat back and watched them rip through paper. And when Sarah was done opening all her gifts, she started opening everyone else’s. Obviously we were not moving quick enough for her.
Her grandaddy really surprised her with this awesome 1949 Pontiac pedal car that he bought and restored for her. She loves it! Her grandparents also loaded her down with a shopping cart and groceries. She immediately started moving the groceries from her cart to her car, and then put her baby doll in the car and took off. Girl’s got it down.
Santa came that evening and brought all the goodies and then some.
One of Sarah’s favorite toys was her Doc McStuffins doctor bag.
Her other was her mermaid costume.
And Norah? Well she was sort of overwhelmed.
Santa filled my stocking with my favorite chocolates, a gift card to TCBY and scratch offs (I won $24!) Good job Santa!
After Santa, we went to my parents’ house for family, food and more presents.
Sarah got an awesome Little People princess castle and Jacob got a Little People farm house. I love both of them and secretly want to play with them while the kids are away.
And Norah? Well she was rather drooly over this bear that makes the same noises as a mother’s womb.
I was so proud of Sarah and Jacob this year for sharing their gifts and not fighting. A big improvement on last year! They even sat and ate kolaches together while watching Raffi. And they dressed up as Mary and Joseph (or Jofus, as Sarah calls him). We volunteered Norah to be Baby Jesus, but she decided to go nap in her manger and skip the photo op.
We all got so many nice things and so enjoyed spending time with family. We did more family visiting Christmas evening, but our day after Christmas plans came to a grinding halt when my cold finally caught up to me and took me way down for several days. Sarah too. But I’m still glad we powered through Christmas. It was amazing and wonderful and I couldn’t be more thankful for my family and the time we got to spend together.
Last night was one of the most difficult nights I’ve ever had mentally as a parent.
Yesterday, I skipped the nap I usually take in the morning after we send Sarah to daycare. Norah is a terrible night sleeper, and so far that nap has been the key to my sanity. But I had a lot of work I needed to get up and do and her morning nap is the one reliable time I have to myself. So I got up and had a fantastic day getting work done. My sister came over and watched Norah some and worked on the nursery (which still isn’t finished), then my mom came over and watched her some more.
I felt good. I was tired because of the missed nap, but Norah had slept more like a normal baby the past three nights – going to sleep at 9, waking up twice to feed, then going back to sleep after. I could survive on that kind of sleep.
Bed time hour approached around 7, and Norah started getting fussy. But, hey, we thought, at least she’s doing it early so she’ll be asleep by 9 or 9:30, no problem. We got Sarah ready and in bed a little late, around 8:30, then started prepping for Norah’s bed time routine. She was screaming, but I thought once I bathed and nursed her she’d settle right down and I could climb into bed and in dreamland by 10.
Boy was I wrong. Norah was alternately screaming and staring at me with owl eyes for over EIGHT HOURS straight last night. Guys, this was not good for Mark’s or my mental health. About five separate times we thought we had her asleep, only to lay her down and have her start screaming less than two minutes later.
There’s something that makes it mentally tougher when you’re in your bed with the lights dim, just begging the baby to fall asleep. At 1:00 am, we eventually decided to just move to the living room and turn on the tv to make everything feel a little more normal, a little more sane. When she finally dozed off, we practically ran back to our room and put her in bed… only to have her back up again five minutes later.
I cried then. I cried that she was being cruel. I cried that it was unfair. I cried because I must have the only baby who does not sleep at all at night. After all, having a child that gets up to feed twice in the middle of the night then goes back to sleep sounds like a cake walk compared to what we’ve been experiencing, especially when there is no break, no chance to have one night to catch up on sleep. I was mad. Mark would doze off and start snoring and I got even more mad. I would put her in her bed, still screaming, and punch pillows.
Around 3:00 a.m. we moved to the rocking chair. I put my nose on her forehead and breathed in. I could smell the chrism oil that still stained her forehead from her baptism on Saturday and immediately calmed down. We rocked and rocked and rocked. And finally, around 3:45, she fell asleep. I kept rocking, scared she was going to wake up any moment and we would start all over. But I finally moved her back to her bed and she stayed asleep.
We fell asleep around 4 this morning, so of course Sarah was up shortly before 6. She came running in with nothing but a pull-up on, wanting to change into her Dora nightgown. I ushered her back to bed, where she stayed until 6:45. She then came loudly into our room neighing, declaring that she was a horse. It was so hard not to be grumpy when I was barely functioning on less than two hours of sleep. But she was laughing and smiling and asking for hugs and I remembered I had to be a mother to her, too. Mark and I both got up and got her ready for school. I was storming around the kitchen, snapping at my husband and my daughter while prepping her lunch. Then Sarah walked up to me, put her arms out and said, “I hold you mommy.” I stopped, looked at her, and scooped her up in my arms. She held me and loved me and brought me back to the realization that we have tough nights, terrible nights, but oh the love we get in return.
Norah slept for seven hours straight after that rough go, the longest she’s ever slept. I went back to bed and slept three more hours, waking up once to check on her when I feared she’d been quiet too long.
When she woke up, I nursed her, held her and smelled the holy chrism oil. I watched a video someone had posted on Facebook of a couple who couldn’t have children and ended up adopting twins, which promptly brought me to tears. I looked down at the little baby God has entrusted me to take care of. He knows I can do it, but I often doubt myself. The path to Norah has been a difficult one. I should have known birthing her wouldn’t make it easier. But I am so thankful she’s here. So thankful I get to hold her and nurse her and witness her first smiles. So thankful to have Sarah, my child whose imagination is limitless and knows just how to make me feel better. A little girl who is so perceptive that it startles me. So thankful for a husband who endures me yelling at him to stop snoring at 3am, and stays up with me in solidarity when I need it most.
This parenting thing can be so hard, but I am so thankful.
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