Going through the motions of Mom, Wife, and Human

You guys, I’m totally fine.

I mean, I was fine.

I thought I was fine.

I am “fine.”

It’s just that, I feel like I’m walking in the fog. I’m squinting to get around each corner of my day. I’m slowing, unsure of each step.

I mean, I’m able to mom well. I’m careful not to lose my temper,though I do, because I’m human. I give my children all of my love, which is very easy to do. They are my miracles in the flesh, thanks to adoption and their birth mothers. Their occasional sass reminds me that they too are human and I am clearly rubbing off on them.

Our four year old has tested our boundaries on a regular basis, which probably means he is a normal child. But man it’s hard. We look for the mode of discipline that says “We love you, please stop being a jerk.” He fights dinner every single night. I’m learning that I can’t FORCE him to eat. I can’t control his actions, I can only make suggestions and show him by example.

Our baby girl is walking now and is testing her limits with us and her brother. She pushes him and pushes us. She is damn cute about it too. She has gotten her brother in trouble probably more than I am aware of. She gets into everything and can’t quite understand why she isn’t allowed to play with electrical cords, though I think we are getting through to her. Hopefully!!

It’s a struggle to keep the tiny humans alive at times between self starvation and potential electrocution. All in all, they are pretty damn amazing. And cute. And smart. And manipulative. Perfect little humans. My perfect and imperfect little humans. I love them more than I can possibly describe. My daily journey with them is both mundane and adventurous.

There is our marriage. My husband has been very stressed out with his job and with his training. He just completed the Xterra World Championship triathlon race in Maui, Hawaii. You would think this is not stressful, but it is the world championships after all, and the most challenging Xterra race he has ever competed in, and he competed with elite athletes from around the world. High stress for him. The whole idea of traveling with kids over long distances is stressful. We had nine pieces of luggage and two children between the two of us adults. It was stressful. Hawaii was great, but getting there, racing, and getting home was stressful. He pushes himself hard in all ways, which is overwhelming for me to watch. He lives with minimal downtime due to his own passions, but it comes with a toll. I don’t dump my shit on him as often as I should. I don’t want to add to his list of things to keep up with, so I try to hold it together for him and just be a “good wife.”

Then there is my working out. I’ve put a lot of effort into working out. Into feeling that I have control over something in my life. Into allowing myself to BE STRONG physically. I can fake emotional strength, but I cannot fake physical strength.

Here is the part where my crazy comes out.

I have a workout plan that I am following. It’s five days a week and takes about an hour to ninety minutes to complete each workout. The first phase was strength training with no cardio, which was amazing because I hate cardio. Phase two added cardio, which then added 30 minutes to my workouts four days a week putting me at a solid ninety minute workout four days a week. All of this requires a gym.

Why does this matter?

Well, the gym daycare only allows babies three months to 15 months to stay in the daycare for 75 minutes, which worked for the first phase of my training. By phase two of my workout program her age would change and I would then get up to two hours of daycare at the gym. I only needed 90 minutes though. PERFECT!

Well, I was pumped and had it all planned out. I get to the daycare on her 15 month birthday and excitedly said, “She is old enough to stay for two hours now!”

They asked her age and corrected me by saying their rules state THROUGH 15 months I am only allowed 75 minutes. So she was not old enough yet. Simple misunderstanding right?

No.

I lost my shit.

I panicked.

I begged for just 15 extra minutes…just 90 minutes I said. They apologized and said they could not adjust the time for me as it was their policy.

Listen, I have hated working out for years. Since I was in high school. Here I am literally crying because I couldn’t workout for 90 minutes.

So I did my workout in tears for my 75 minutes, then picked up my kids from the daycare, in tears. Completely making a fool of myself.

I didn’t leave it at that…oh no. I contacted the director of the daycare and explained my situation and that the wording of the age policy was extremely confusing and they should allow me to leave my daughter in the daycare for 90 minutes. They then explained that they were actually increasing the age limit to 18 months and under to get only 75 minutes. They had found, it was too difficult for the minimal daycare staff they had to take all the little babies for two hours each.

I’m like, GREAT! I ONLY NEED 90 MINUTES!!

Ok, really Sheila? Is this about your 90 minute workout? Or is it about something else?

Here I am, lifetime hater of exercise, complaining to the management of a gym daycare that I can’t workout for 90 minutes because of their daycare policies. I’m still extremely embarrassed by my outburst and the reasoning behind it. I’m trying to figure out what the hell happened and why I was and am still so emotional about it.

It all comes down to control. I haven’t had control of my life in a long time. I haven’t had control over my fertility. I haven’t had control over the adoption processes. I didn’t have control of those embryos that didn’t survive the thaw.. I don’t have control over my sons willingness to eat dinner. I can’t control how fast my daughter turns 18 months. I don’t have control over the fact that my husband is exhausted every single night because he just wants to be passionate about his work as a triathlete and coach while also holding down a “real” job that actually pays the bills.

In the process of all of this, I’ve lost control of my body. I’ve lost control of my weight and my own physical strength. I’ve put so much focus on trying to spiritually control these outcomes by praying, manifesting, and visualizing success. It is physically exhausting to ‘think’ I had control over these things. I feverishly filled out forms from adoption agencies and fertility clinics. I diligently took my medications and gave myself shots. I make food that is kid friendly and do things for my husband that I think might make him less tired. I controlled what few physical things I could control and I controlled them well.

In the process of all this control, I put my emotional and spiritual body into full fledged panic mode. I see that now. I’m still figuring out how to reverse this now automatic reaction to anything I cannot control. If my body can’t control it, maybe my mind can. Right?

I found something else to control. My body.

When the daycare told me I couldn’t have that extra 15 minutes – they also told me I didn’t have control over my body. In my extreme mind’s version, I have control over nothing. My mind is solely focused on this one training plan. Apparently thinking it’s the “ONLY” plan that could work for me. Obviously, this is not the truth.

So, in the present time I sit knowing I have control over very few things. So I made a list.

Things Sheila can control:

  • Keeping a clean(ish) house (sans anything the kids can touch).
  • Continue physical exercise for a reasonable amount of time 3-5 days a week. Whether I hit my program goals or not. 60 minutes a day is REALLY GOOD. 30 minutes a day is totally fine. 90 minutes a day is bordering crazy. Don’t be crazy Sheila.
  • Showering…I can shower…showering makes me smell nice. I can totally control that.
  • Connecting with friends – in person and online.
  • Take vitamins. <– brain health…your brain needs all the help it can get Sheila.
  • Cook and plan healthy meals a few days a week. (not obsessively trying to hit 6-7 healthy dinners a week Sheila… settle down.)
  • Not using the F word.. (failure) – not being angry with myself for missing a workout day, cooking unhealthy meals, having a messy house, connecting with friends, missing a vitamin, etc.

So, that is an incomplete list. But I find if I list all the things out I become obsessed with the schedule and try to complete every item every day and then I lose my mind due to lack of control. Which ALMOST happened when I made this list.

I am trying desperately to live moment to moment. Having to ask myself if I’m doing this or that because I’m using it to cope with another feeling that I’m burying. It’s super confusing. I feel paralyzed by my total lack of control, but I want to fix my need to control. So I need to be still and carefully make choices.

Is that a healthy thought or an unhealthy thought? Do I act on that thought or let it pass by?

Anyway, thats where I am. Stuck in the fog. Just focusing on a few things I can do and trying to let go of the things I can’t control. Which is most things.

The only proper ending I can think of is this:

Let it go… let it go… Can’t hold it back anymore….

SC

Marriage in Movement

Dear God, It is 10:30 at night and I can literally not keep my eyes open two hours ago. Why do you insist on waking me so late in the evening to write? What gives? This better be good. Amen

That’s right, I got up out of my bed, put on a pot of tea, and started writing when I should be sleeping. I do not have the time nor the energy for this. I’ve got kids to raise! That requires sleep, my friends! And my kids sleep good. I am so lucky to have kids that sleep good. My GOD does not let me sleep. It’s like I’m kept awake until I get my fancy pants out of bed and on the computer. I’ve been promised some sort of ground breaking material so here I go.

My therapist reminded me after the embryo transfer failed, that when couples go through a loss of a child, they tend to turn away from each other. They sulk in their loneliness and hoard the grief all to themselves. We don’t automatically reach toward a friend or a loved one when we are grieving. We dive into ourselves and wait for it to pass. Except it doesn’t pass; it festers.

My husband had been distant. He was “doing” all the things and keeping very busy. I tried leaning into him, but he would push away as lovingly as he could. “I’m fine.”  He is the rock of the family after all. He has always been the stable one in all ways. Yeah, I’m not buying it.

I finally told him that if he didn’t tell me what was wrong I would assume he was mad at me. He rolled his eyes and said, that is definitely not what is going on. So I asked him to explain. It came down to his lack of control. He couldn’t control the outcome of our fertility treatments. He had experienced disrespect at work and felt as though he had lost some amount of control of that part of his job. We had just put our dog down that same week so he had felt helpless in that matter even though we chose to let him go peacefully. He is training for a big triathlon and is not feeling in control of his free time or training right now. He was not feeling like the rock. To him, it’s a black and white world for the most part. In control or out of control.

When I thought of it that way, I could understand his frustration. He wasn’t grieving in the same way I was. So I had to think of a way to be there for him that would help him most.

Now, I’m not what we would call a good housewife. I am not a perfectionist in any way. I hate doing dishes, laundry, or any cleaning, and can handle a good mess. So what I decided to work harder at was keeping the house clean. I pulled some of the “doings” away from him. He came home the next couple of days and just sat with the kids “being.” Although, one day he beat me to the punch and cooked dinner for us all. He is a pretty amazing guy like that.

 

Over the past 12 years of marriage I have gotten much better at helping him “do” and he has gotten much better at helping me “be.” I would say the first five years of our marriage our main arguments were over him pushing me to “do” all the time and me pushing him to “be” all the time.

  • Him: You need to clean the house right now!
  • Me: You need to be patient with me!

Then our arguments turned into arguments about our styles of arguing.

  • Me: You yell too much!
  • Him: Well, you don’t even respond to me!
  • Me: You aren’t showing me very much love!
  • Him: You aren’t showing me very much respect!
  • Me: *Silence*
  • Him: SEE!

(This is a paired down version of a 3-6 hour argument we had several times, generally in the middle of the night. Had we said these nice and clear things, it would have been better.)

Seriously people, this was our first five years. Marriage is hard.

Now here we are going through a hard situation and giving each other a break.  I mean we aren’t perfect; we did argue about something I cannot even remember before we left for a six hour road trip. We didn’t speak the whole time. I listened to a book on building my legend (because I am amazing) and he listened to podcasts about economics (because he is a nerd). Throughout our weekend with family we gradually relaxed. We lost the embryos and our dog in less than five days. It was a hard week to say the least.

We really have come a long way in our marriage. I’m not sure we would have handled that so well in the beginning of our marriage. It has taken a lot of work though. Our compassion for each other should come naturally, but it has come with hard work over a period of years.

I had a friend recently ask me how I got my husband into therapy with me all those years ago. I can’t really remember, so I asked him.

There are two things:

  • 1. I also recognized that there was an issue. and 2. Even though I didn’t think therapy would help (and even hated the stigma of therapy) it was just a matter of sucking it up and going anyway with an open mind. Ultimately it comes down to this: We are married and love each other. If one person feels that the marriage is slipping and believes that a specific intervention might help, it is the other person’s job (if they are fully invested) to give it a shot. – The husband

He went to every therapy session I asked him to go too. I cannot tell you how thankful I am he didn’t fight me on this. Therapists are not all created equal and we have had our share of crazies. He powered through all of the crazies with me. I’m not saying all therapists can save a marriage. Some folks go to therapists and decide to end their marriage.  Shit happens. I’m not saying our marriage is bulletproof. What I’m saying is we give every possible effort to strengthen our relationship where we can. Even then I know it may not be enough. Today we are strong, but who knows what we will look like in ten years. I’m hoping we continue the trend of strengthening our marriage.

We still argue, because we are humans. Humans disagree. That is normal. I am still snarky, because honestly, I don’t really know how to turn that off. He has learned to not react to my snarkiness most of the time. I get it, I can be hard to read with my sarcasm. Also, I can be hilarious. He may or may not agree all the time.

He is a really smart guy and I feel threatened sometimes. I don’t know why, but I do. I’ve learned to appreciate his knowledge…most of the time. Other times I get super annoyed, because I am human.

We have learned to give and take. Marriage is kind of an amazing shit show. What other human could you live with in the same space, continually, for the rest of your life. We leave our parents home at 18 – from people who have cared for us, loved us, and given us everything they could…and we run. Yet we find a mate and all of a sudden we are like, “Yeah, I could totally live with this person that I’ve known for a couple years for the REST OF MY LIFE!”

WHAT ARE WE THINKING??

You throw in personal growth over time; changing interests. Throw in some medical problems, family problems, financial problems, kids and gray hair. Everything changes. You are not the people you were when you met. You are not the people you were two years ago. Yet, here you are spending the rest of your life with this one person. Honestly, it’s a scary adventure. What’s going to happen next? Somehow we get comfortable with this. We understand how they move and adjust. They understand how we move and adjust. It becomes this synchronized mesh where we are kind of doing the same thing, but also attempting to be individuals as well.

Marriage is a balance that flows with time. It’s an imperfect dance.

So that is what God brought me. Relationship advice I guess. Even though I don’t feel qualified to be giving such advice.

Bottom line, don’t give up on a relationship that once had love, without a fight.

 

SheilaKChester

Good Grief

I never understood grief. I still don’t really understand it. I’m starting to realize I’ve been living in grief for a very long time. Since the embryos were lost I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been going back to the beginning of our journey and the memories and emotions are flooding back in.  

I’m looking at myself and my husband like characters in a film because it’s a little easier. It’s easier to think that wasn’t me going through that. It’s easier to think that another couple almost lost their marriage.

I’m also looking back and re-feeling a lot of those experiences despite my best efforts to shield myself from… myself.

I was very much hurting all of those years and I responded to people in a way that I’m not proud of. But in a way, I can’t blame myself for reacting the way I did. I didn’t even know I was grieving. I didn’t know what I was feeling. All I knew was my life was completely out of my hands. Any situation that could be stressful was blown up in my mind. I didn’t realize I was carrying a weight so heavy that even if a mouse climbed on my back I would crumble. 

Beyond dealing with my own grief, I did not realize others were grieving around me. How could I? I could barely see what was happening inside of me. I had no extra space for anyone else.

I look back now and can see how everyone around us felt the grief and dealt with it in their own way.  And then they had to deal with me.  I was short (in stature and in attitude).  If someone criticized me for being distant, I pretty much told them to fuck off. I had no room in my soul to decipher anyone else’s pain. I could only feel my own. In fact, I looked around and saw everyone else as happy and in no pain. I can see that differently now.

I can only imagine how our friends and family have dealt with our infertility. I’m not talking about how they dealt with us, I’m talking about how they dealt with their own loss through our infertility. I mean, Justin and I both struggled and changed. Our parents didn’t recognize us.  I’m sure they don’t understand their feelings about it either. Their kids are going through infertility and there is nothing they can do about it. They can make suggestions but ultimately they feel completely helpless. Who knows, maybe they even felt responsible. Was it my genetics that I passed onto my child…is that why they can’t have children? (The answer is no… no one is to blame.)

I remember when I was a child talking to my mom about when she would be a grandmother. “When you are a grandma, will you take my kids on trips?” “Will you teach them how to ride a horse?” And I always wondered, what would my parents be like as grandparents. It was always in the back of my mind from the time I was a child. I’m sure it was in the back of their minds as well.  It’s human nature to look toward your future generations. It is ingrained in us.  So when we couldn’t have children not only were our own dreams crushed, but our families dreams were crushed as well.

Then I see our brothers. Though brothers probably don’t dream of the day they would become uncles, they have probably thought about their children and their relationship with their cousins. I honestly don’t know because men don’t have those conversations. They keep those thoughts locked deep in their subconscious. Way below sports, sex, and career… and a thousand other things.

Personally I was very close to my cousins and loved my childhood with them. Many of my cousins are my best friends to this day. My brother and I didn’t have to discuss our expectations that our children would be close because we knew internally that we wanted our children to have our childhood. No matter the distance our children would be close.

So what happens when we can’t produce the other half of that cousin equation? Not only are our dreams crushed as potential parents but our dream of being close to the cousins is crushed. Will we remain close to our brothers? Will we remain close to our parents? We have nothing to give them but ourselves. There is no cute mini-sheila or mini-justin to break the in-law tension that occasionally happens. It’s just us. Our raw grieving selves.

I remember thinking all of this through in the midst of infertility, but not really putting it together in my mind as grief. We couldn’t be there to support our family through their own grief because ours was too intense. We couldn’t even be there for each others grief. We were each in it alone. We didn’t even see them as having to grieve this. Not until now really.

Our relationships with our families even now with our children have been defined by our infertility journey. A lot of things were said that can’t be taken back. Feelings were hurt. There is still tension. There is a different kind of closeness. The wounds of infertility have forever affected the relationships I have with my husband, our families, and close friends.

I can look back at that time and apologize for every moment I reacted based on my inability to understand what I was feeling. My inability to see my depression and grief.

How do you say, “I’m sorry for how I behaved when I was sad.”

You don’t really want to apologize for your own sadness but there are wounds that will take a very long time to heal from the words you spoke. Is sadness a legitimate excuse? Why didn’t I take care of myself better? Why didn’t I go to a therapist sooner? Why didn’t I get on depression medication sooner? Grief is an asshole that comes and goes as it pleases. One day you’re fine, the next you’re a train wreck.

I know that people avoided me during this time in my life. I was a different person. I wish I could have avoided me. I wish I could have avoided the entire situation! But ultimately it shaped me into the woman I am today… and I wouldn’t change that. It shaped our marriage in a way that has created a powerful strong connection today. A marriage that survives trauma and continues to survive it… MUST be strong.

This experience created the family I have today. I can see clearly now the rain is gone. Without the rain I wouldn’t be sitting in my sweaty workout clothes feeding my sweet baby spoonfuls of hummus (which inevitably end up all over her body) and typing away like I am some sort of professional “writer”.

You guys, infertility is a shit show. It is a mess. It won’t kill you physically, but it will crush you emotionally. How the hell do I write that in a way that will get across to a population that is so vastly different from me?  Hopefully you get what I’m saying here because I’m STILL lost in the confusion of grief right now.  I’m fairly certain I will be grieving for a lifetime.  I cannot procreate as nature intended. Luckily I can procreate as God intended.

By the grace of God and my and Justin’s tenacity as a couple and as individuals, I am a mother and he is a father. I have the most incredible children and I am forever grateful… and still grieving the loss of our children that will never be. Our current children cannot replace those that were lost. They are individuals that were meant to be in our life. I cherish them for exactly who they are and who they will become. I am loving every moment of their growth. Even when my son asks me why I have a big butt. I love the hell out of that kid. More than I could have ever imagined I could love ANYONE. And my daughter… she is a light in my world and has brought me through some serious shit in the past year.

My kids aren’t here to fix my grief. They are here to grow with me and love with me. I pray I get that message across to them clearly. That is an entire post in itself. Chat with you soon! 

 

S.C.

This is Us

This is us.

The show that has everyone experiencing a straight up emotional back hand. Thank you television for making me feel my emotions. Something I’ve tried to avoid for my entire 35 years.

Not only does this show evoke emotion in me, but it evokes emotion in my husband. I have never seen him react in any manner after a show or movie other than… that was good. But there is something about this show that digs deep into his soul. It’s not just the adoption party that catches us, its the relationships. Life is a series of relationships and this show captures those relationships with vigor.

For one, watching Randall connect to both his biological father and his adoptive father has my husband on his knees. I get why Randalls mother didn’t want him to know his biological father. It’s fear. Fear that our children can’t love two people with similar titles at once. Yet as parents, we can love more than one child. Why wouldn’t we expect our children to do the same?

The last episode where Jack and Rebecca got into a huge fight before she kicked Jack out of the house…. We were both stunned. We had that fight. We had that fight several times. Before finally deciding to build our family through adoption, we were at each others throats. We were on the verge several times of just giving up on our marriage. I wanted to leave. I was tired. And it seemed there was no end in site. We were stagnant in life and blamed each other for our lack of movement. It’s because I wouldn’t do IVF. It’s because Justin didn’t want to adopt until we tried all medical options. It was because we were tired and blamed ourselves for this infertility. I’m sure we had other selfish issues on top of the infertility that played a role in our bickering.

It probably doesn’t help that the same day we watched this last episode, was the day of our monthly marriage counseling. I was expressing some insecurities I had and didn’t feel like I was being understood. I left that session feeling tired and confused.

That night, after the show, Justin turned the tv off stood up and looked at me. He stared for a moment and then said, “I think you are the most beautiful woman in the world. You are gorgeous. The way you look is beautiful. Your heart is beautiful. The way you are a mother is beautiful. You are a beautiful, gorgeous woman and wife. I’m sorry I don’t say that enough.”

Cue Tears. And silence.

I didn’t know what to say. I’d been so hard on myself the past several months (probably years) for not being enough. I’ve been steadily gaining weight for the past 5 years and I’ve finally hit a tipping point. I feel unattractive, undesirable, and unlovable. He was telling me those thoughts in my head weren’t true.

I am attractive, I am desirable, I am lovable.

I hugged him for a long time then we were off to bed. I feel like my response to his outpouring of love was sub-par. I don’t know how to take compliments like these? Automatically my mind said, he is lying. He is just trying to make you feel better. But he wasn’t lying. He was sincere. My husband opened his heart to me to try to explain to me how much he loved me.

How do I turn of that internal voice that is so mean to me? Those thoughts?

Forgiveness.

I forgive myself for gaining the weight. I forgive myself for being so angry all those years. I forgive myself for having those hateful thoughts about myself.

That’s all I can do.

To love someone else is easy. To love yourself, well that’s another story.

Time to build that relationship with myself. I wonder, if I had as much love for me as my husband does… how would my life be different. Well, hopefully I will find out soon enough.

– Sheila Chester

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Why WE Will Never Stop Going to Therapy

The first time my husband and I went to therapy was for pre-marital counseling with our pastor. A requirement for our pastor to marry us. We learned a lot about each other that we had been struggling with through our short relationship. Single ladies and gents… relationships are hard. They take work. A lot of work. If you go into a relationship not willing to give it 100% of your mental and physical energy, then you should probably stop now. Shit happens. Humans are just that, human. We make mistakes. We say things we don’t mean… or we say things we do mean that are mean. We say things in anger and in fear. We say things in the heat of the moment that we cannot take back. If everyone gave up in that moment, there would be no relationships ever.

Our first year of marriage we were lucky to be a part of our churches newly wed small group. We loved that group. Everyone argued over silly things like laundry and dishes. Do the forks face up or down? Yes we all got in serious arguments over ridiculous things. Especially that first year of figuring out how to live with each other. So many arguments about in-laws on all sides of the marriage. We were not so different after-all.

My husband and I have been in and out of therapy since that first year of marriage trying to find common ground in silly arguments… and those not so silly arguments.

Fertility problems triggered a big set of arguments for us. Our equal frustrations created a huge gap in communication as well as a loss of respect for each other. Blaming ourselves and each other for our lack of a child. We would go from therapist to therapist trying to find one that would fit my emotional needs and my husbands logical needs. It was a difficult process. In fact, we had one therapist suggest we get a divorce. She didn’t last very long. Another therapist suggested sex therapy. Nothing like discussing your (lacking) bedroom shinanigans with a total stranger. I’m sure there are good sex therapists but this was not one of them.

One therapist (ok she was a psychic) suggested we stop discussing divorce and start getting along like grown ass adults. Our marriage was not slotted to end in divorce. I don’t know if it was that she was a psychic or if that I really had not heard this statement before that got me to thinking. Either way, I started to see the hurt in my husbands heart and really tried to find that synergy we had when you first got married. When I opened my eyes and heart to his, he opened his to mine. Weird how that worked. A simple act of forgiveness can truly change the entire future of a marriage. Really, I was forgiving myself. My self-hate was coming out in anger toward my husband. He was just reacting to my crazy. It was a whole mess of crazy up in here. When I lessened the crazy, he lessened the reactions. We started to synergize again.

It was then we decided to adopt. Can you imagine any agency accepting a crazy couple like us? Every agency we asked regarding counseling and therapy congratulated us on our work on ourselves and our marriage and said it would have no affect on the adoption process. There were some international countries that wouldn’t accept families in counseling due to their out dated beliefs thinking therapy was for the seriously mentally ill.

We finally had a plan of action that almost guaranteed we would be a family of 3 sooner or later. Granted it didn’t make the waiting any easier. But we were finally in it TOGETHER in it. We were equally waiting. No blame. No guilt. Just waiting together.

We went through a hard failed adoption together and it made us stronger yet. Holding a child in your arms and then having her taken away makes you dig deep to just get up in the morning. But we endured it together.  Being fully TOGETHER is something we had never truly experienced.

When we were placed with our son we blossomed even more.

Even though our lives seemed put together we still had our moments. This past year we jumped back into therapy head first. We went in because we kept getting in arguments over the dishes… yes 10 years later… the dishes is what we fight about. Turns out dishes was actually my fear of becoming a dreaded ‘housewife’. Which I had some negative stereotypes against. I’ll discuss some of the changes I personally experienced in another post.

This new therapist is one we can both really connect with. My husband gets his logical needs met and I get my emotional needs met. We are both told to get our heads out of our asses and given homework to do. This therapist understands job security really well and keeps finding things we can work on as individuals and couples. The thing is, we are doing it! We are doing everything we are told to do. We are enjoying our sessions and looking forward to them each month. The dishes argument is still around… because seriously…. I hate the dishes. But we have other issues that come up… individually and as a couple. Sometimes our sessions are just a hooRAH session about how awesome we are doing as a couple…. because some days we totally kick ass at marriage. And some days… we argue about the dishes.

therapy-is

The point of me telling the internet this is that I know SO MANY couples who refuse to go to counseling. They refuse to get help in any way. They think therapy is for sick people or they finally agree to go when its too late. They think their religion is their therapy… or their sister is their therapy. Your sister is ALWAYS going to side with you!!   If your religion is your therapy, see your pastor! You need a third party to come in and tell you the truth. You need a third party to help your decipher your SHIT!

We went to therapy over the freakin’ dishes people! It’s never about the dishes! It’s always something deeper.

But I’m too busy with the kids. I’m too busy with my job. We don’t have the money right now. It’s JUST NOT a priority right now.

What happens when you don’t make your marriage a priority? What if you took your marriage more seriously than your ego?

It doesn’t take too much thought to know the answer to that.

Look. Divorce happens. I’m not saying I’m against divorce. It has its place and in many instances it’s necessary. I’m just saying, unless your physically beating the crap out of each other, give it everything you got before it gets to the big ‘D’. Before it even starts to get to that point.

-Sheila

A note from my husband: 

I’ve been going to therapy for quite some time now, many times with my wife, sometimes by myself.  Is there anything “wrong” with my marriage?  Nope.  Is there anything “wrong” with me?  Nope.  But that doesn’t mean that my marriage can’t be stronger or that I can’t be a stronger pillar in my marriage; it doesn’t mean that I can’t be better at dealing with stressful situations; and it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a better father…and that is why I no longer have a problem discussing with folks that I go to therapy pretty regularly.  The stigma that therapy is only for those who are “broken” or for marriages that are on the verge of failure needs to go away – therapy is for anyone who wants to grow, anyone who wants additional tools to handle the stresses of life more effectively.  I enjoy therapy for that very reason – I enjoy the personal introspection that I must do to grow, and I think many more people can benefit from therapy if we remove the notion that “I’m not broken, therefore I don’t need to go to therapy.”  Try it…you’ll like it, or at the very least, you’ll learn something.

-Justin Chester, Physicist, 4x Ironman finisher, Triathlon coach, involved father, devoted husband, Mans Man.

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Maintaining My Zen Amongst the Crazy Inside My Head

So first I share all my crazy with you and now I share with you how I’m learning to deal with it. If you missed me sharing my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, read here. It will help you understand this one.  My form of crazy is permanent. The mental illness I experience isn’t just for a season. I’ve spent years fighting this but have decided its OK to be with my crazy. So here is what I do to to attempt to maintain my zen.

As I stated in my previous post, I started taking prescription anti-depressants in 2010. It took about 3 months of trying different brands and doses of anti-depressants to find the right fit. I remember the moment I walked into the therapists office for the first time. In tears, I explained what I was feeling. She  gave me several ideas to help me deal RIGHT NOW but also suggested I contact my doctor to get on anti-depressants. I had explained that I had been on anti-anxiety pills and they didn’t seem to work. She then explained the difference between anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. Anti-anxiety medications are often times tranquilizers. They get you through the moment.

Oh sweet tranquilizers…. the memories.  I had a lovely relationship with Lorazapam (Ativan)for some time, but apparently taking that on a daily basis isn’t recommended. Something about increased tolerance and addiction come to mind.

I was showing signs of dependancy and my doctor could see it. It wasn’t the first time I came to her about anxiety and possibly depression.  She said if these feelings were consistently happening every day I needed an SSRI. My brain needed help.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) -These modern medications make more serotonin available to the brain by blocking neurons from taking up the extra serotonin after a nerve spike.

Side effects of SSRIs may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, headache, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, and trouble sleeping.

Oh goody. This does not sound nearly as fun as those tranquilizers were. But would I rather be a slug for the rest of my life or a functioning adult? It’s a toss up.

No more ambien or lorazapam with these pills. There are too many risks combining all these medications. So sleepless nights and sad feelings will be my near future.

Here is the deal with anti-depressents. They are a bitch to prescribe. As in each of the options have pretty severe side effects and work differently with each person. They started me on Zoloft first.  I understood it took almost a month to start feeling the effects of the medications. Afterall it has to adjust your brain function and that takes time (unless you’re a tranquilizer… obviously). I drove straight to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription. I immediately took one of the pills and went home… waiting for it to kick in. An hour later the pharmacy called.

“Ummm, ma’am, have you taken the drug yet?”

Me:”Yes, Why?”

“well, the pharmacist gave you the incorrect dosage.”

Me: thinking this is probably not a big deal.

“You were prescribed 10mg and we gave you 50mg”

Me: Shit

Within 3 hours my head was pounding and my chest was aching. I called the pharmacy throughout the evening to make sure I didn’t need to go to the emergency room. They assured me I would be ok. I did not feel ok. The headache turned into a migraine which lasted 24 hours. I was dizzy, exhausted, in pain, and thought I was dying.  (I understand some people get regular migraines that could last for days. This was my experience and it sucks. I have sympathy for people who deal with this more often than once in a lifetime.)

The next day I switched to my prescribed 10mg dose but the chest pains didn’t go away. It was like severe anxiety – which is a side effect. That’s super helpful. Lets take some anti-depressants that cause anxiety. Genius. The chest pains lasted 10 days before my doc changed my prescription over to Prozac.

It took another week for the chest pains to subside. Within 3 weeks I started to feel the effects, but I wanted more. We upped the dose to 15mg and then 20mg. When I was on the 20mg, I was exhausted all the time. So back to 15mg. Then I found that some seasons were harder than other seasons.   I had to find the sweet spot.

Being on depression medication with the current negative social stigma is hard.  I battled feeling weak for having to be on them. In fact, I figured if I could just figure out what normal felt like then I could figure all my head stuff out and TADA … be able to deal on my own. Like a big girl.

So off I went. One year on, six months off, one year on, one year off, one year on, six months off…. how long am I going to do this to myself before I realize maybe I’m not one of those people that gets to go off of this medication. Insert sad face emoticon here. Last summer, I forgot to call to get my prescription resent (I mean I remembered every day I just forgot or was too lazy to actually make the call to get them shipped). I went 10 days without medication. That means, I didn’t wean off of them carefully like is required, I went cold turkey. I was a train wreck. Finally I called in the prescription and requested an emergency dose from my local pharmacy. Needless to say, that will not be happening again. I’m cool with being a lifer (as of this moment). I’ve experienced depression and anxiety long enough. I’m good with being a functioning human for my husband, my kids, and myself. That being said, I’m still fighting the stigma internally and externally.

I heard a woman in my moms group make a side comment about all the moms out there who just take meds to deal with life. I guess that’s me. The problem is, I wasn’t dealing before. I was curled up in my bed, trapped in my mind, and had a potential of physically endangering myself. So maybe she doesn’t need the meds, but I sure as hell do. I’m no longer going to defend my need for being on them, but embrace it. Hell yeah I’m on anti-depressants! THEY ARE FANTASTIC! I feel like a normal person. I’m not overly happy. I still can get sad or anxious in certain situations, but I’m not so hard on myself that I feel sitting in the dark closet by myself is the best plan of action. I can function in society with the best of them and that, my friends, is awesome. So if you are in a place of depression, give it a shot. Be patient, but give it a shot. Live your life as your BEST SELF! And realize, not everyone needs to be on anti-depressants permanently like I do.

I’m also realizing that I can’t just count on my medication to cure my depression. I also have to adjust my lifestyle. I have to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Body, brain, and spirit.

With that, I start with therapy. Working with someone to heal your brain and spirit. My therapist clears my brain from the clutter I have built up in my lifetime. She helps me bring in positive and helpful emotions that bring me peace and understanding. I have 2 therapists. One for my marriage and one for myself. Both end up helping with healing my entire self. My self worth has improved. My spirituality has grown exponentially. My patience has increased as a mom and a wife. I’ve become much more compassionate… considering before I proclaimed often my emotionally dead heart… kind of a big accomplishment here. I’m finally happy with where I am in life. As an anxious person, that is saying a lot. Before I was never enough, I was always playing catch-up with those around me. I am enough. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a cool phrase these days. I am enough. Fully. I 100% blame my therapists and the work they have forced me to do on myself for this revelation. I’ve started reading the bible more and building my relationship with Jesus. I feel like this is the first time I’m doing this, but I’ve known Him for so long… I just never let Him in. I should probably write more about that, but I’m not there yet.

Therapy has created the person I was always meant to be. But the work is not easy. It’s constant. I have to forcibly shut down the negative talk within my head. But I can finally do it. I can finally ignore the angry self deprecating thoughts that constantly pop up. Therapy is like a personal trainer for your brain and spirit.  I wish I would take as good of care of my body as I have been my mind, but I’m sure it will come. It is part of my goal every day to maintain physical strength in some capacity. Lately it’s just been carrying my baby around everywhere which hardly counts. It’s better than fudge and soda I guess.

Every day is a new challenge between mind, body, and spirit. I wrote in my journal (the one that is hidden under a pile of laundry I have yet to fold) all the things I wanted to accomplish in a day. It goes like this:

 

  • Wake up at 5am
  • Shower
  • Drink 24oz water with vitamins (Get 100/oz water each day)
  • Meditate 10 min with essential oils (frankincense usually… because WWJD?)
  • Visualize my day in a positive way accomplishing easily all of my tasks.
  • Exercise for 10-30 min
  • Listen to a motivational book for 10-30 min (during exercise)
  • Write or journal for 10-15 min.
  • Connect with 2 friends. Build relationships.

 

 

 

So far, I have completed all of these things in one day… never.

That journal entry was dated a year ago. So I’m not some sort of amazing human that takes care of every aspect of her body, but the point is I try. I probably get MAYBE one of those things on my list done every day.

So that is how I keep the sanity in my day… I try things … every single day.  I’m not perfect at it, but at least I try.

Giving myself every possible opportunity to be authentically me in the most peaceful and inspiring way I can, is the greatest gift I can give my body, my husband, and my children.

-SC

Breastfeeding my adopted baby: That was unexpected!

I am currently at 15 weeks starting this breastfeeding journey and a lot has happened. Baby girl is 25 weeks this week.

Major Happenings:

 

  1. Baby girl gets a majority of her diet (75%) from me directly.

  2. My boobs have grown more lopsided than ever. (C’MON right side!! Pick up some slack!)

  3. I haven’t gained “too much” weight from the medication. (common side effect)

  4. I’m getting much better about nursing in public.

  5. I thought I was pregnant for a fleeting moment!

 

Did you know that the hormones involved with breastfeeding could stop your period? Well I seemed to have forgotten that simple fact and blew through a pack of pregnancy tests in a weekend. I couldn’t decide if I was excited or terrified that I FINALLY got pregnant. But alas, the universe is an asshole that likes to play dirty tricks on people.

BONUS: NO PERIOD UNTIL I DECIDE TO HAVE ONE!!! AKA, better than that birth control that stops your period forever but turns you into the HULK.

Seriously though, my left boob is twice the size of my right boob! Is this normal!?!?! Dear Righty McHooters, pull it together, this is a freakin’ team effort. I’m gonna need one of those chicken cutlet boobinators to level the playing field. My baby even looks at limpy right side like … are you seriously going to make me attempt to get milk out of this side even though WE ALL KNOW it produces jack? (I’m paraphrasing)

In all reality, I’m making progress. Quite a bit in fact. The only thing stopping me from hitting 100% is my sheer hatred for taking pills and my lack of following a schedule.

I’ve basically hit a full supply, but I absolutely have to be taking my Domperidone 4x a day. I upped my dose to 120mg per day. So I take three 10mg pills 4x a day. Sometimes I forget a dose and only hit 90mg for the day. One day two weeks ago I only remembered to take the Dom once for the day and my supply ran out by her bedtime so I had to hook up to my long lost supplementer that I didn’t miss. It’s worth it to remember to take the pills.

Last week I did really well, I took my 4 doses a day each day and didn’t even need to pump. When I do pump, I can get 4-5 ounces in a sitting (total with double pumping). She still got a bottle from grandma once a day because grandmas love to feed their grandbabies … so I let it slide.

Speaking of pumping, we had my cousin and his wife and son move in with us for a month so my lazy pumping came to a halt. No more pumping during morning cartoons or the Ellen show. But that is ok, I love having them here and helps me plan a little better. TAKE YOUR MEDICATION ALL READY! Really, I only pump at night now or if I become super uncomfortable and baby won’t eat … which rarely happens. The girl loves to eat! And for that, I am grateful.

On average I am feeding baby at 3 a.m., 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. Generally, the 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. feeding is a bottle, but the rest are from the breast without supplementation. Plus now she is getting solid foods twice a day. I know I could feed her from me every feeding, but I would absolutely have to be regimented on my medications. I would have never made a very good military soldier. I don’t think they do “ish” very well in the military. “ISH” is what I live on. I’ll be there around 10-ish. Or I take my vitamins everyday (ish). Does oh-five-hundred mean 5 a.m. or p.m. (ish)? It would not have gone well at all.

My goal currently is to continue this process (ish) for the next 3 months. I’ve fed her with my milk for 3 months now and would like to do it another 3. I wish I could be one of those moms that just loves it so much that I want to feed her till she is in kindergarten, but I don’t really want to be taking this medicine for that long. Plus we have some big plans this summer that would force me to stop the medication anyway.

THE PLOT THICKENS!

 

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Thanks for following along, if this is the first article of my series you have seen, here are the links for the others: 

Part 1: When God Shouts… I listen

When God Shouts

Part 4: Week 2


Part 2: The Hospital


Part 5: The Protocol

Part 5

Part 3: One More Time


Part 6: Holy Boobs Batman!


Losing My Sh#! on a Daily Basis

For as long as I can remember I’ve had anxiety almost constantly. Regardless of the situation. Then when stressful situations did come up it would create a full on panic attack. I remember anxiety induced chest pain most of my life… as in I got so used to it I assumed it was normal. When I was in first grade I had a spelling test to study for, rather than studying the week of, I was in a hyperventilating crying fit (every night) because I knew I would fail. Anxiety… since 7.

When I was in middle school, my teachers got me into the gifted program. WTF? Seriously? I would go to the gifted classroom with the actual smart people and not be able to play any of their smart people games.

Answer: I don’t fucking know! I literally just had 3 full blown panic attacks trying to find this damn riddle example. Can we just color?

Side note: Adult coloring books? Yes Please!

I would be sitting their sweating, knowing the truth. I’m just here because my teachers feel sorry for me. Everyone knows it! Is this some sort of big joke on me? So much discomfort. But that is what middle school and high school is about. Awkward. Uncomfortable. A Phase. A shit storm of emotions on a daily basis. Something I can’t seem to grow out of.

In high school, I dove into music. I had a talent. I could sing. My boyfriend taught me to play the guitar and I was hooked. This was my thing. This is what I could be good at. I could sit for hours playing my guitar, writing songs, and singing. But I would sabotage myself. I would practice songs I wasn’t performing so when I would get to my performances, I would freeze up. I didn’t want to practice for days on something I was probably going to mess up anyway. It was the same story as my studying. Don’t do it or you will prove to yourself and everyone that you are an idiot. If I study and fail that means I really am a failure. If I practice hard and still mess up, I was never good to begin with. Save yourself the shame and just go for mediocre. This is what I told myself all the time. It was a hate hate relationship between my heart and my mind. I’m a good person right? I have no clue. I couldn’t get past the bitter self-hate.

I cannot believe I even went to college. I didn’t JUST go to college. I went to 4 colleges because I would transfer thinking the next college would be better, less stressful. I was just taking the wrong classes. I was just in the wrong program. I was just… excuses excuses excuses blah blah blah. I kept jumping back and forth between arts degrees…. Which one is going to make me SUCCESSFUL. That’s another post all together. Those will be titled ‘What is success’ and ‘College is a waste of time’.

I always get myself in uncomfortable situations and then run for the hills only to find more uncomfortable situations. I finally just realized my life was a series of uncomfortable situations. So I might as well get used to it.

Not only did I go to (4) College, but after completing my degree and working in my field of study for 3 years I changed career fields… again and got my real estate license. Because taking another test and learning something COMPLETELY different seemed like a good idea. Idiot. (I really need to work on my negative self-talk). I spent 6 years in CONSTANT anxiety in this career field. Every client was a potential for me to disappoint. I had my client to disappoint, the other agent, my managing broker… My disappointment list just got bigger. It’s like I was trying to shake my anxiety with as much anxiety as possible. FIGHT ANXIETY WITH ANXIETY! Take that. Ok, look, it didn’t work. I came out of that experience with a few less brain cells… and a permanent eye twitch.

The best plan of action at this point was to get pregnant and become a stay at home mom. That would solve all of my problems. So you won’t be surprised when I tell you I am currently coming on 9 years of infertility.

I wasn’t just dealing with anxiety though. It was bigger than anxiety.

I recall in 2007, before infertility, before real estate, I was driving to work and thought how much easier life would be if I just drove off the bridge. Not metaphorically speaking, but I actually wanted to drive off a bridge. I didn’t want to hurt anyone else, just myself. And I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to be in the hospital for a month or so. (At least a month) It’s so vivid because I contemplated this every day going into work for months, probably years. I figured if I could just get a month with nothing to worry about except my own health then I would feel better. I started taking sleeping pills to deal with my depression. At least I slept good at night, right?

I didn’t feel bad enough that I wanted to check myself into a psych department… or at least I didn’t think I felt bad enough. I didn’t deserve a weekend retreat at a yoga camp or meditation camp. Plus that cost way too much. I figured insurance would pay for a car accident. Besides not being crazy enough for the psych department, who knows if insurance would cover it and I wasn’t interested in finding out. Yes.. a car accident seemed like the most logical best thing I could do. Plus it would be an ‘accident’ and not my fault at all.

So what did I have going on in my life that made me feel so hopeless? Nothing. I had a good job and a great husband.  I was going to school part time as well. I suppose that was a large stressor. Ultimately, I felt like people could see right through my shallow soul. They would soon find out I was a fraud. I felt like I was awful at my job (even though my bosses and co-workers praised me often). I felt like I wasn’t smart. Why bother going to school? I’m never going to be able to hold down a career. I’m not nearly as smart as the other students in my classes. My mind was constantly filled with negative self thought.

Anytime someone would point out a small error or remind me of something I forgot I would come down on myself hard. How could I ever hold any job down if I can’t accept even the slightest criticisms or reminders. Granted I was (STILL AM) a procrastinator so I never made it easy on myself. My husband would try to help me through all of it, but how do you logic with the illogical? Much of this negative thought came home with me as well. My husband was afraid to talk to me. I often overreacted. And then he overreacted at my reactions. Cycle of pain.

So was I depressed or anxious? What is the difference?

de·pres·sion

dəˈpreSH(ə)n/

noun

feelings of severe despondency and dejection.

anx·i·e·ty

aNGˈzīədē/

noun

 a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Its hard to say. I experienced both anxiety and depression. So lets call that Depriety or how about Anxession. Yes. That is exactly what I have.

In 2010, after 2 years of infertility, I decided to beat my depriety with exercise. I would tell my body and brain who is finally boss. I own you! You don’t get to decide my fate! I trained for a half Ironman. 70.3 miles, 7 hours and 45 min of screaming at my body.

I HATE YOU! YOU ARE AN IDIOT! YOU HAVE NO PURPOSE IN THIS LIFE!

The wind and my muscles screaming right back at me, but I did it. I finished the race and my body lovingly rewarded me with MONO. Yes. I got mono.  I also was diagnosed with anemia and low vitamin D. My body was done. My body told my mind that it was done. I will shut you down until you get your shit together. I got home from that race, booked an appointment with a therapist and my PCP and got on anti-depressants immediately.  Within a month my body finally relaxed. My mind finally relaxed. I could breathe.

This is the story of my personal crazy. What goes on in my head. I could keep writing and I will. But today, this is where I will stop. I write to educate you. I write to help you. I don’t write for sympathy. I’m figuring this out. I want you to know that you can live WITH (not against) this bullshit called mental illness.

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________________________________________________________________

Of the worlds population, 5% of us suffer from depression. That is 350 Million people. In the united states that number is 6.7% – or 15 million people over the age of 18 suffer from depression. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

YOU are not alone in this. Depression and anxiety doesn’t have to make you weak. Choose to treat your disease. Do not try to fight this on your own. Call a doctor, call a friend, call me. Get a therapist. YOU ARE NOT ALONE unless you choose to be.

you-are-not-alone

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

New Family Traditions

I remember when my husband and I had to decide who was going to skip their family Christmas for the first time to attend the others. That was an especially difficult Christmas. It hasn’t really gotten easier. Letting go of childhood traditions to create your own has been an interesting journey to say the least. We try to fit into each others childhood traditions and it never really feels right.

What is family? Mother, Father, Children

What happens when those children grow up and get married? When Mother and Father become grandmother and grandfather? What happens when you try to combine in-laws with all of that? Now your brother and sister are married with kids and there are more in-laws than you can count. Mass Confusion.

It sucks growing up. Adulting is hard. Having to navigate the needs of everyone around you, including your own. It’s difficult.

The bottom line is, we aren’t children anymore and it will never be the same. We have to hold on to our memories because we can never replicate those childhood moments as adults as hard as some of us may try. What we can do is give our children memories to take with them the rest of their lives. Those memories hopefully will shape the new memories they make with their families.

After spending years building our little family unit (Me, Justin and our kids) and growing apart and coming together as a couple(repeat x1000), we have opted to start our own family tradition.

We attempted this last year, but as expected, had some push back.

“Holidays are for family.”

It brought us immense guilt to want to celebrate without them. But it also reinforced that YES! HOLIDAYS ARE FOR FAMILY!

You see, we are going on a little FAMILY vacation to the Rocky Mountains. A place that Justin and I dearly love and enjoy for it’s beauty and solitude… and it’s black diamonds.  Just me, my husband, and my kids. We are going out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner (GASP!). We are going to spend much needed time just having fun with each other. Not worrying about laundry or dishes. We are creating a new family tradition.

When our son was born, I felt strongly that we could NOW start his childhood traditions by staying home for Christmas. Not just staying in Colorado, but staying HOME. Waking up Christmas morning to presents under the tree (in my own home)… hot coffee (cocoa) and jammies. Not worrying about putting a bra on. Not worrying about drinking the last cup of coffee because we don’t know how to work the coffee maker or how to make the perfect pot of coffee each family prefers (watered down or turkish black). Not scheduling a shower around other visitors or asking permission to take a shower because we aren’t really sure when breakfast or presents or other traditions are happening. Not worrying about who has to make breakfast or when the kids will be fed.

Waking up in our own home with our own coffee… and no bras. This is my dream.

The excitement of figuring out what MY family tradition will be has been a ton of fun. This is the part of adulting I can embrace. I can bring in a little of Justin’s memories and a little of my memories and make them brand new for us and for our children.

As I think of us changing it up like this, I think of what Justin’s parents and my parents might be feeling. That’s the hard part. Are we hurting feelings by doing our own thing? Probably. I very much dislike causing hurt feelings. I think of when my kids are older and our little family tradition is no more. I can see how that will be hard for me as a mom to watch my children grow into adults and build their own family traditions with their kids. I do see it. Hopefully I can embrace their choices. Though in this moment in time, I can never imagine them not NEEDING me for every single possible thing. You mean I won’t have to wipe runny noses and poopy butts the rest of my life? This makes me sad. Seriously.

Because I want to cherish each of these moments, we MUST start our family tradition now. I want to experience it as long as possible.

essentiallyhome-1

In this statement alone, my guilt is gone. I love our extended families, but this day we choose to celebrate our Thanksgiving together for the first time as a family of four. It may not be your perfect idea of a Thanksgiving tradition, but it is ours.

 

Now get out there and ADULT THE SHIT out of this holiday season.

Be Kind.

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Holy Boobs Batman! (Part 6)

breastfeedingmy-adoptedbaby-girl

I am 7 weeks from starting the thought process and 5 weeks from starting the medication. So I thought I would update you on my progress.

About ten days ago we went on a family vacation to California. I was fully prepared and brought my fancy pump and my supplementer. I was prepared to nurse on the takeoff and landing and had back up bottles as well. This would be my first public nursing experience, which I’ve had some anxiety over. This is also baby girls first flight. Our son has flown several times and does very well.

I brought my super fancy and trendy cover up to put myself at ease. Ultimately I knew baby girl could care less but this was all on my nerves. I know, why does it matter, women are fighting to normalize breastfeeding. It feels like I’m still getting past the legitimacy of deserving to breastfeed. As if everyone on the airplane will know that 1. I’m nursing and 2. that my child is adopted. And who cares if they did.

I realize have some things to work through here. Thank God for my incredible therapist who is filled with a fiery desire for me to reach my full potential and is also filled with enough grace to catch me when I fall. In combination with my amazing friends and husband I should be wonder woman by now. But then again, I am breastfeeding my adopted child with actual milk from my actual boobs … so maybe I’m getting close in at least one field.

Now, the flight. She did really well! I nursed her taking off with the supplementer and she slept the whole flight (2 hours) and was ready to nurse on landing but she didn’t wake up to bother with it. It was the same situation on the flight home. Totally fine.

As for keeping up with my nursing and pumping schedule while on vacation… well thats another story. I pumped twice a day and nursed twice a day. So that’s half as much that is recommended to keep your supply up. I was still pumping about 2 ounces total per session.

When we got home from vacation I remained at 2 oz per session. This week however, I am increasing to 3 oz in the mornings and 2 oz at each pumping session per day.

At this point I would say she is getting about
1/3 of her calories from breastmilk which is pretty incredible. My goals are adjusting as we continue on this journey. I’m comfortable if we stop here, but man… if I could create enough milk to not have to worry about packing formula everywhere… that would be AMAZING. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away and trying my best to stick to my nursing/pumping/nursing schedule.3-oz

Nursing has been so enjoyable for me. I love the connection that I get with my daughter.  She is showing a lot of preference for the breast vs the bottle so that keeps me pushing to increase my milk supply. Its a team effort between the two of us and so far we are kicking ass.

SIDE EFFECTS:

I’ve had a few changes at home since starting this process. My son (3) has lost a little bit of his mommy through this process which I feel very guilty about. He has latched onto dad pretty hard (not a bad thing) because I seem to always be feeding baby girl when he wants to play or he only wants to play when I’m feeding or pumping.  He is requiring daddy give him hugs and kisses prior to leaving for work (5:30am) which is kind of difficult because if daddy does this he is up for the day. Little man usually wakes up around 7am. So we are navigating that. The other morning he woke up in a panic because he thought dad had left without kissing him. Luckily it was a Saturday and he got to him immediately.  I really try to do one on one things with him, but it is challenging. Generally speaking he is still a super fun loving little guy that acts out by coloring on my bed sheets with sharpie. Typical three year old with a touch of awesome.

I’ve also had some physical side effects like feeling jittery throughout the day. I believe that is coming from a lack of hydration in combination with the domperidone I’m taking. I’m still around 80mg a day – which is the minimum dose my LC suggested. As I build my supply I’d like to wean off of it if I can. Many blogs I’ve read state they have to stay on the drug to maintain supply, so we shall see.

Next side effect:

HOLY BOOBS, BATMAN! I’ve probably increase by 2 sizes, so have had to do some wardrobe configuring. My husband is pretty much terrified of them. Either they are going to spontaneously squirt milk at him (this has never happened) or he feels like he is cheating on me with fake boobs. I’m sure he will come around. It doesn’t help that I chase him around with them and make him touch them when they are super hard in the morning. Poor guy. Total entertainment!!

holy-boobs-batman

up-arrow This 100% deserved its own quote box. You should probably pin this as “awesome”. You’re welcome.

That is where we are as of today! I’ll check back in a month to update those interested in hearing about my hoots. Thanks for keeping up! I really do get the gravity of how amazing this is… all joking aside.

SC