Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Chapter in an Amazing Book

It is amazing how much time we waist worrying about death. I (as discussed in an earlier blog) have spent many hours obsessing about the subject and I do not think that I am alone. But for the past few days, my thoughts and feelings on the subject have changed drastically. Suprizingly, the soon death of someone near and dear to me, has opened my eyes to the subject. To understand what I mean, you need to know a little bit about the spectacular person to whom I am refering, my grandma!
Grandma Darlene (my dad's mom) has had an amazing, tough, love-filling life that is winding down quickly. She is one of my biggest role models and has taught me a great deal about being a tough woman. She was married to my Dad's dad, with three young kiddos when he decided to leave her for his mistress. She was a single mom for awhile, working as a police woman when she met the man I consider my grandpa (Vince-who my son is named after). She worked as a cop for many years and later became a 911 operator, a job which most people could never do. She divorced my grandpa Vince later on and married my grandpa Bill right around the time I was born.
Grandpa Vince died when I was 12 and Granpa Bill died two years ago in July. She also outlived her first husband. Even though my grandma has many qualities to be admired, she is human and has one specific quality that should be avoided- she is a chain smoker and has been for as long as my dad can remember. For many years, we (her fmaily) tried to get her to stop, but eventually came to the conclusion that it would actually be worse for her health if she did.
For the past few years, grandma has been in and out of the hospital for various health issues. We have prepared for the worst on many occasions, but she has always come out of it. This time, it isn't going to happen. I have spent the past two days watching my tough, sassy, fiesty grandma deteriorate before my eyes. Yesterday she made the decision to die. No more IV's, no more meds, and no more machines. She is ready to go.
Before I saw her yesterday, I was a little angry about her decision and selfishly wanted for her to fight. But after seeing grandma last night, I know that she has made the right decision for herself. She was so happy and clear of mind that it made me re-think things. She seemed relieved and at peace and that makes me happy and at peace. There is still a huge, selfish part of me that just wants grandma here with me as long as she can be, but I now completely understand her and her decision.
She is a smart woman who has been through a lot in her life and  has made many life decisions on her own, if she is tired and ready, then why should I feel anything but happy for her. Do not get me wrong, I am balling while I am writing this. When she goes it will kill me and the rest of my family, but all I want for her is to be happy and free of pain and stress and that is the reaction that I am getting from her since she made the decision to be done.
I think that we may go through all of the hard things in life, to help prepare us for death. We have lost three grandparents in my family in the past 3 years-all of which were ready to go. It just dawned on me after seeing my grandma, that this is the way it is supposed to be. You live until you are tired and ready for the next stage in life. Although, I have many years (hopefully) before I have to worry about death, it makes me feel better to know that some day it will be a welcomed chapter.
I competely came to peace with the situation last night. Right before we left grandma at the hospital, I sat down next to her holding Liam. She said that she wanted to give him a kiss, so I bent down, holding him down to her. She gave him a kiss and then they both smiled. I was about to say goodbye myself (thinking that this may be the last time) when Liam leaned down toward grandma all by himself. She asked if he wanted another kiss, he smiled, and she gave him one. At this point I felt so relieved. I don't really know why. Maybe it was that Liam seemed (I know he didn't) to understand that grandma needed one more kiss or maybe it was the way grandma looked so happy and cheerful when he bent down, but either way, we all seemed relieved- grandma, myself and Liam.
I know that when my grandma really does let go and pass on, it will be horrible and extremely difficult for all of us, but I also know that she will be happy and at peace. I will miss her everday and I will make sure that Liam and any of my future children will know all about their amazing great-grandma and the impact that she had on her family. I love you grandma!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's a wonderful life!

This time of the year is always full of fun and joy. But having a baby changes everything, including how you feel about the holidays. When you are kid, Christmas is this wonderful, magical day that you wait for all year long. There is a fantastic feeling that accompanies this time of year. The older that you get, the less magical it is. Stress and lack of funds put a damper on things and even when things are happy and joyful like when you were young, things just are not the same. Every year the season looses a little magic. I spend every year listening to christmas music, watching christmas movies, shop till I drop, decorate non-stop and do anything that may bring that illusive feeling back, but until this year- no luck!
But having a baby in your home brings that feeling back ten-fold! This Christmas has been the most stress-free and magical that I have had since I was about ten. My husband and I spent all evening and most of the morning preparing everything for Liam's first Christmas. I know that kids don't really get the whole christmas, santa, presant, thing until they are older, but I am sure that Liam has figured it out already. He was the only kid at Grandma's christmas party that sat on santa's lap without crying, in fact he seemed quite comfortable. He has also figured out the whole unwrapping thing. He might not get that there is a presant inside, but he sure knows how to tear off the wrapping paper! I am so glad to have the holiday season that I remember from my childhood back again (thanks to my little man)!
Merry Christmas to all and I hope that you find the childhood Christmas feeling too!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember that they try!

I am having a very hard time figuring out how to start this, but I think just saying it will be the best way. Being a parent is (hopefully) a two person job, but there are times being a mom is very lonely and stressful. Everyone has this idealistic picture in their minds of how both mom and dad will share the responsibilities and everything will be wonderfully equal. Unfortunately, this is not realistic. My husband is working very hard to help me and he already does so much more than (from what I have heard) other fathers do. He gets up with Liam during the night to change his diaper, he plays with him as much as possible, and he picks him up everyday from daycare. But there are so many things that, by default, are a mommy's job. This only gets worse if you are exclusively nursing.
There is no way to know how one-sided parenting is until you are there. As I said, my husband tries and does a great deal, but this does not change the number of things that I now have to do. My day consists of.....waking up at 4:45 am just so that I can pump early enough to have milk again by the time I leave Liam at daycare, get myself ready for work, get Liam ready for daycare, get him there, feed him, get to work on time, spend 8 hours being responsible for the learning of about 110 students (while pumping during my planning time and my half hour lunch), come home to immediately feed him again, play with him, change at least five diapers, feed him every two hours, get him to go to sleep just in time to have a half an hour to an hour to myself, and then off to bed to start all over again tomorrow. If this sounds like a lot to do, this is an easy day. Other days can include: dr. appointments, work meetings, grading, cleaning, and/or shopping (just to name a few).
The lopsided nature of parenting can become a cause of persistant arguing between parents. It is so difficult to keep a level head and to remember that they do not have the ability to do all that we mommies do. This is even more difficult when paired with lack of sleep, a bad day (for any party) and/or an unhappy baby. I am exhausted ALL the time and the nagging feeling that I am doing it all alone is tough to swallow. I know that I am not doing it all alone, but it is hard when your partner doesn't really understand what it is that you do differently. Men have it so easy! They get to sleep through the feedings, go to work guilt free, and play with the baby when they are happy. To make matters worse, Liam has begun to prefer mommy when he is sad, tired, or feels yucky. Don't get me wrong, there is a huge part of me that loves that he wants his momma all the time, but the tired part of me wins out most of the time.
I know that it is not possible or fair to daddys, but I sure wish that they could have just one day wearing mommy shoes or at least just be aware of the responsibilities that we take on. If you are expecting for the first time, be prepared to feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and your shoulders alone at least once in a while. Hopefully those feelings are few, far between, and pass quickly; but I can almost guarantee that it will happen. Be prepared!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Anxiety is Normal. Right?

I have always been a bit of a fraidy cat, but since having Liam it has gone to a new (crazy) level. I worry all the time. Mainly about my family and friend's safetly. I think everyone has these fears, but mine have become a bit irrational/intense. I believe that it may be turning into anxiety. Before having Liam, I had nights (usually after watching a crime drama of some sort) where I listened to every little sound and found it hard to fall asleep. In the past 6 months or so, this has turned into a nightly thing and it has begun to interfer with my sleep on a daily basis. Not only is it happening more often, but the worries have started to be so intense that I lay in bed for hours imagining all of the horrible things that could happen.
There are two major fears that have become paralyzing: 1- fear for Liam. Health and well-being. I think about what I would do if- his health were not good, if there were an earthquake, car accident, or someone were to break into or home. This brings me to my second major fear: 2- someone breaking into my home and hurting me, my husband, Liam and/or my pets. This is a major reason why Liam is still sleeping in our room, I feel that I need to be there to protect him if anyone were to come into our home.
I live in a small, relatively safe town, just a couple of blocks for the police station. I have never had anything like that happen to me or anyone that I know, so I have no idea where these fears have come from, I just know that they are getting a bit out of hand. I know that it is completely normal to feel fear and anxiety after having a baby. That our hormones are off for quite a while. But, I wonder how much of these fears are linked to being a new, protective mommy and how much of them are just me. Either way, I know I need to do something about this now that it has started to effect my daily life. If any one has advice, I would love to hear it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Putting the Thanks in Thanksgiving

We have had many firsts this year- first new car, first baby, first niece(s). But now, the first holiday season with Liam is fast approaching. Tomorrow is our first Thanksgiving with with our little guy. This is the first year that I really understand what Thanksgiving is about. It is not about having a day off of work or the food (although these are a plus). It is about knowing what you have and acknowledging the blessings that you have been given. For me, this is even more important. I believe that who I am, and what I have been through, makes me even more thankful.
As we bake and decorate for the season I think about the many things that I am lucky enough to have: I have the job of my dreams, a beautiful home, a wonderful family (that includes a perfect, healthy, little boy), my husband and I are happy and neither one of us have to worried too much about having/keeping our jobs. We know that there are people who do not have these "luxuries" and we know that we should appreciative. Although everything is going in the right direction now, we know that there are so many things that could go wrong and that we may not always be in this situation.
As we head into our first holiday season, I think about all the changes that our son has brought to our lives. The holidays won't be about us anymore, they are all about him and the joy that he brings to us. I can't wait until the time, when Liam understands who Santa is and we can see his face Christmas morning. We can't bring joy, health, and happiness to everyone, but we are lucky enough that we can do this for our son. And we can not wait!
Our holiday goal is not to give him the best/most gifts, it is to teach him to be thankful for our accomplishments and blessings. He will grow up knowing how lucky he is and that he can help others. Every year, Joe and I pick a couple of children from the giving tree at the mall to get gifts for. This will be the first of many years, that Liam will participate in this. We also have begun a new tradition of donating food to the local food bank. I know that it is not much, but we will continue to do as much as we can for those who are in need.
If you are wanting to get into the "real" holiday spirit, I have a book suggestion for you. One of my students gave me a copy of a book that her father wrote about his experiences here in the Portland area, during a holiday season when he was a child. It is a tear-jerker, but it will put you in a wonderful mind-set for the holidays. I plan on reading it to Liam every year- along with The Night Before Christmas : ). The books is called, "The Paper Bag Christmas" by: Kevin Alan Milne. Happy reading and Happy Holidays to all!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Love and Sacrifices

Having a baby complicates life a great deal, we all know that going into it. But how many people expect it to have an impact on their friendships? I didn't, but that was ignorant of me. Every friendship that I have has changed drastically. Friends that were once casual are now becoming more important than I ever thought, friends that were once the most trusted and leaned on are now barley hanging on, and there are still others who have seemed to fall off the face of the earth and are nowhere to be found. It is a difficult trade off- create life and meet the number one love of your life and change every other relationship that you hold dear. Of course, I would never trade my beautiful son for anything, but that doesn't mean that I will be able to make it through all these changes without some mixed feelings and grieving for the friendships that have gone by the way-side.
There is no fault in this situation, only changes and priority shifts. But again, just because I wanted my son doesn't mean that I wanted to loose the others that I care about. In some situations, this may be the best outcome for all and it may have been in the works anyway. But positions are being left unfilled and there are holes were "soul mates" used to be. How do you go from having close friends and no baby, to a baby that you love more than anything and no one for yourself? No one to help you through your hard times and no one to share in the fun times? It is so difficult to find someone who will stay the same, when everything in your life changes.
I hope that I have friendships in my future that will make my life feel complete and will be encouraged by my family as well as their family. I just wish that there was someone there now- but someday. Until then, I guess I will just count my blessings and be thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and most of all my little Liam.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Part Time Parenting Is Not My Thing!

It hit me about July, that going back to work after having Liam was not going to be as easy as I had originally thought. The closer it came to September, the more I knew that being both a full time mommy and a full time teacher was going to be one of the hardest things that I would ever have to do. Before having Liam, I never imagined that I would be able to be a stay at home mom. I love my job and I get so bored without something to keep me busy. However, having a baby changes everything, including your priorities.
Once it became apparent that this feeling was not going to just pass and that I would magically be happy with doing both full-time, Joe and I became focused on doing all that we can so that I could work part-time and be home with Liam more. Lately, that has become not only a priority, but a necessity! Have had a mini-breakdown once a week for the past three weeks. It is so hard to feel like you are doing two things well that both need your attention all the time. I feel like a horrible teacher and a horrible mommy and I hate that. Those are the two things in my life that I am passionate about and it is killing me to think that I am ruining both.
I feel terrible about all the ideas and assumptions that I had about working moms and stay at home moms before! Because having a son has made me into what I thought was just a woman with an excuse to not work. For me, it isn't about not working, it is about being the best mom that I can be. Now, I don't want anyone to think that now I have gone the other way. I know that there are fantastic moms who are able to work as well. I wish I could be one of them. They are so strong! But I am just one of those people who pours all my effort into the things that value and that becomes difficult when there are two.
Hopefully there will be some good news this week. Wednesday I have a meeting with the principal at my school to discuss options for next year. I just hope with all my might that all goes well and that I have some options that include seeing my son more and keeping my job!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Frustrations with Lactations

Before I had my son, I made a lot of assumptions about who I would be and how I would feel. So far, they were all wrong. I thought that I would be ready to go back to work by September, didn't happen. I thought that I would be calm and relaxed and not worry about every little thing, didn't happen. I thought that I would be ready to put him in his own room at night, definately did not happen. But the biggest assumption that I made was that nursing would be easy and come naturally. Although this happened at the beginning of Liam's life and was even going well for the first two months that I was back to work, it has now become more difficult than I ever thought.
Apparently your body can just decide- no more milk for a machine. This is complicating my life considerably. I feel so proud that I alone have been able to feed my son for this long. It has become extremely important to me to continue nursing at least for the first year. There are many reasons why this would be benefitial. It is better for Liam, it's much cheaper than formula, and it has become an incredible bonding experience, but there is also the feelings of regret, frustration and guilt that have begun to creep in at the thought of not continuing. The stress of not being able to keep up with the demand has always been there, but now my body has thrown another wrench in the works. I will continue to work towards my goal and do everything possible to keep it going. The best way that I can think of help the situation is to relax and take a quiet bubble bath, lets hope it helps!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Life as of today

My life is about as abnormal as it gets. It all began when I was 5 and has continued to keep me on my toes ever since. When I was five my hair began to fall out. Terrified, my mom took me to the doctor and was told that I had alopecia (a form of hair loss). This is just one of the many abnormalities that I have been plagued with. Don't get me wrong, my life isn't terrible. In fact, I think that I have a pretty wonderful life. But there are days when my differences make life difficult. Today is one of those days!
I lost all of my hair for the 1st time when I was 5. It grew back in time for middle school (yippy!) only to fall out again at the end of my junior year of high school. Once again, I got used to it. Then it grew back, this time, just in time for my wedding to my wonderful husband, Joe. Then about two months after the wedding, back to hair in the drain and on my pillow. This was the last straw! I shaved my head and have been bald ever since.
Just as with every other time this had happened, the first few months was difficult, but soon I came to be thankful. I still am. I am happy with myself, my husband loves me just the way that I am, my son doesn't think of me as his bald mommy, just his mommy, my students (I teach 6th grade) don't care one bit, in fact they like to joke with me about it, and it takes me a fraction of the time that it takes the average women to get ready. All joking aside, I am completely comfortable with me. I just wish others would be.
The comments and unsolicited "prayers" are sweet and I know that these people just want to help, but they don't. I don't need you thoughts and prayers. I am healthy and have a fantastic life. Please send those thoughts to those who really need it. I know that this sounds horrible and I don't mean it to, but just imagine getting yourself to a cheerful, thankful place just to have others make you feel like you should be sad. I appreciate the thought, but I would rather be treated like a normal, everyday person. Because that is what I am! Hair does not make you normal, but apparently it can make abnormal.