Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thank you

Dear Jillian,

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for being mine. Thank you for being here. Thank you for healing parts of me that I didn't know were broken. Thank you.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's part of life. And no, life isn't fair.

Today as I was picking Jena up from Vacation Bible School I overheard a woman complaining about the snacks they were serving this week.

Well, really just one snack. On Friday the kids get cheese pizza. Her daughter cannot eat pizza due to food allergies.

This woman ranted for over 10 minutes to her friend about how it's not fair that her daughter won't be able to eat the "cool food", and stated that she thought they should change the menu to accommodate the kids with food allergies.

Over and over again I heard how upset she was that her daughter would miss out on the "cool" food / treat. She went on about how it's one thing when you're older, but when you're a kid it's just really hard to miss out on the "cool" stuff.

And then when a VBS worker walked by, she stopped them and went on a very polite tirade about the stinkin' cheese pizza.

I'm gonna be honest. At first, I thought 'whatever' but the more she pounding her point into the ground, the harder it got to hold my tongue. But I did manage to. But now ya'll get to hear my perspective on the issue.

Here's the deal. Jena is sensitive to chocolate. For those of you that don't know, many of the food "allergies" out there are actually sensitivities. The difference (in a very simplistic nutshell) is that an allergy can kill you, a sensitivity just makes you sick. Possibly really sick, but you aren't gonna die from it.

Chocolate makes Jena really, really sick to her stomach. Sick isn't really the right word. It's painful. Heartburn remedies ease the discomfort, so I suspect it has something to do with acid reflux, but we don't know exactly. What we do know is that if she eats even a small amount of chocolate she is sick enough to be out of commission for several hours.

Now, I don't know if this woman's daughter had an allergy or a sensitivity. For the purposes of what I'm going to say, I don't think it matters either way.

Back to Jena and the chocolate. Believe me, we know what it's like when you're kid can't have the "cool food". When their friends at school bring only chocolate cupcakes to share for their birthday, and your kid can't have any. When the cafeteria decides that as a reward for good behavior during lunch, kids can have chocolate milk, so no matter how well behaved your child is, no matter how often she is well behaved during lunch, she will never get the reward. We know what it's like to have your kid be the only kid who can't have the "cool" treat. Trust me, we get it.

In fact, at this particular VBS, we have to pack Jena's snack three out of five days, because on three out of five days the snack they are serving involves chocolate (M&Ms, pudding, chocolate chip cookies).

Are we whining about it? Asking that they change the menu?


The whining going in surrounding this issue is that my five year old is upset that because she's on the list of kids with food allergies, she has to ask the teacher every day for her snack, then the teacher checks the list to see if Jena can have the regular snack or has to eat her packed option. Jena's complaint is that she can regulate her diet herself and she shouldn't have to ask permission because she's responsible enough to monitor it herself.


I don't know how old this woman's daughter is, but since five is the youngest class at this VBS, I can reasonably assume that she is Jena's age or older.

Now, I understand that some allergies are easier to monitor than others. It's easy for Jena to know whether or not something has chocolate in it. Whether or not something has, say, peanut oil, can be much more difficult to decipher. Which is why they have the rules. I get it.

But the fact is that at five years old Jena regularly monitors her diet herself. More than once over the past few years a teacher has forgotten and tried to give Jena a snack she couldn't have and Jena corrected them.


Anyway, back to my points.

Should they change the menu to accommodate children with food allergies?


First of all, this VBS has over 400 kids and workers participating. Trying to create a menu that will accommodate every single food allergy and sensitivity would be near impossible.

I surmise this is why they sent an email to all parents & workers the week prior giving us the menu for the week and advising us to pack a snack if our child was unable to eat the snack of the day.

Secondly, it will not get easier for your child if you shelter them from the reality of their condition their entire childhood, then when they get older suddenly spring it on them.

Is it easy now? No. But if your raise your child in an environment where they are aware of their condition, know / learn what they can & cannot eat, and begin dealing with the social issues of not being able to eat the "cool" foods now - well then they learn how to manage their condition, monitor their diet, and handle themselves in difficult social & peer pressure settings. If you shelter them from it when they are young, then at some predetermined age just spring on them, suddenly expecting them to handle it themselves, they are most likely going to be overwhelmed at the responsibility, resentful of the social implications, etc, etc etc.

It's part of life. And no, life isn't fair. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot make life "fair" for your kids. What you can do is give them the tools to handle the unfairness, however it presents itself.

So get over it. Teach your child to be responsible for themselves. Educate those around you about the dangers of food allergies. But for Pete's sake don't demand that the world bow to the needs of your one child so that you can continue to shelter them from reality.

Just my two cents. Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's sad, really.

Back when I was in my late teens / early 20s I became aware of a class of women who I have been jealous of for years.

These women seemed to have the ability to absolutely control men. They had scores of men dying to date them, and whether they dated or not, it seemed if they asked something of a guy, any guy, they jumped to do her bidding. Most of them married early, having found their Prince Charming early on. Easy enough, I'm sure, with all the men falling at their feet.

As someone who didn't date until I was 19, and didn't marry until I was 30 - and not for lack of desire on my part - I envied these women. I wished I had that kind of hold on a man. I remember thinking that I wouldn't want to manipulate men the way they did, but that to have the ability to gain & keep the attention of scores of men, for a man to want to do things to please me, well, that would be nice.

So for years I envied them.

Now, in my mid-30s, I see things a little more clearly, because I've see who these women become.

I see that they are the woman who's onto her third husband... and isn't even 30 years old yet.

I see that they are the women relegating themselves to the role of adulteress, because it's the only way they know to get attention.

I see that they are the women posting graphic pictures of themselves online, desperate for comments or interaction from men, trying desperately to prove that they still have that kind of hold on a man.

I see that they are the divorcees and the widows who find themselves lost, unable to function in this world without a man making them the center of his world.

I see more clearly now, and instead of envying them, there's a part of me that pities them.

As difficult as it was sometimes being "late to marry", by being older, more settled into myself, I became confident in who I was as a woman, as a person. I know my own identity, and it isn't tied to a man. I lived as a single woman, and I know how to take care of myself. I have a good job, earn a good living.

In short, though I may want a man in my life, I don't need a man to survive or to be happy.

These women, unless they make a conscious effort to change, will never know what it's like to be a strong independent woman person. Their identity will always be tied to men, and they will never be able to have a happy, successful, fulfilling life without a man (or men) to give them attention.

It's sad, really.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

My Damn Phone

So the other day we ventured to the park, first time taking Jill, first time as a family of four.

At one point I was in the backseat of the car feeding Jill, Jena was playing on the playground, and Jason was watching Jena.

Or was supposed to be.

I watched as she yelled out "Watch this Daddy!", then jumped onto the monkey bars, her latest conquest.

She finished her trick, and turned back to him... to see him staring down at the phone. I saw the look of disappointment cross her face. I saw her hesitate for a minute, before moving along to the next piece of equipment.


And it broke my heart.

And I'm not telling you this to vilify my husband in any way.

Because the truth is I'm sure she's seen me do the same thing more than once. I'm sure that look of disappointment has crossed her face more than once because I was staring at my damn phone.

I'm telling you this because I know many of you are guilty of the same thing.

I've read the articles, seen the blog posts. But to see the look on my own daughter's face, to see how it affected her directly... well, it really makes it hit home a little more.

I know it's extra hard for Jena right now, as she's also adjusting to sharing our attention with another child for the first time in five years. So once I finished feeding Jill, I took her out of the car, handed her to Jason, and spent a few minutes following Jena around the playground, asking her to pose for pictures that I took, making her the center of my universe for the first time in way-too-long.

And I watched her entire demeanor change... for the better.

And so I challenge my blog readers to do the same: at your next possible chance, spend 10-15 minutes giving your child your undivided attention. Let me know if there's a noticeable change in their attitude. There was with mine.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Our Little Graduate

While all this baby stuff was going on, my little girl also managed to graduate from Kindergarten.

We are so proud of her and all the hard work she did this year.

Congratulations Jena!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Man! I (don't) Feel Like a Woman

About a week ago, as I made my way to the couch for one of my regular pumping sessions*, Jason jokingly asked if I felt sexy. I answered, seriously, by telling him that not only do I not feel sexy, I don't even feel like a woman.

And it's the truth.

* I am breastfeeding & pumping, but supplementing with formula as my supply is only enough to provide roughly half of Jillian's needed feedings.

The irony is I'm doing what might actually be the most feminine, most womanly thing possible: I carried and then birthed a child, and I'm feeding her from my breast - yet I don't feel feminine at all.

It actually started towards the end of my pregnancy, and hasn't changed yet. I feel like some androgynous lump filling some basic natural need in procreation. Like a machine or something. My gender, my sex seems irrelevant.

I think it probably originated from all of the issues I had with this pregnancy. Not only did I have much higher priorities (ie. the health of my child & myself), but I was horribly uncomfortable during pretty much the entire pregnancy. My body was not my own.

While we still had sex on a fairly regular basis, it wasn't with near the frequency as pre-pregnancy, and quite frankly I don't even remember the last time I enjoyed it. Let me be clear though, that it's thru no fault of my husband's. As previously mentioned, my body was terribly uncomfortable & sometimes painful, my belly was so large so early on that it was difficult to maneuver, and sex was just awkward for me.

I wanted to. My husband was terribly patient and understanding, and to do so was usually my idea. But again, there was no enjoyment for me, and I often felt more like some androgynous being simply filling a purpose.

And while I think it's born out of respect for me, and trying to give me and my body the space it needs to heal, plus the fact that he's been super-busy with his business, the fact is my husband now doesn't seem interested in me at all. Not even a little bit.

Why tell you about my sex life? Because I think it has a direct affect on how I currently feel about my gender identification, or lack thereof.

As did my wardrobe. I know this seems all over the place, but bear with me.

Finding plus size maternity clothes that fit my every-growing gigantic belly was hard enough. Finding clothes that looked cute became near-impossible. My belly grew thru three different sizes of maternity clothes during my pregnancy. Not only was 'cute' hard to find, but our budget couldn't handle much more of these complete wardrobe changes. Nor did I have a lot of time to search near & far for the perfect clothes.

Eventually I stopped trying for clothes that I looked good in, and settled for anything that fit my body, covered all the necessary parts, and bonus if it met my employer's dress code.

Weeks post-partum I still wear maternity clothes the majority of the time. Sometimes paired with one of Jason's shirts. I have so far found one of my pre-pregnancy t-shirts that is large enough for me to wear comfortably. One shirt.

Why tell you about my wardrobe? Because I think my difficulty finding clothes that I felt looked good on me has a direct affect on how I currently feel.

I wish I knew how to explain how I feel. Sure, plenty of times in my life I have felt unattractive, but this goes beyond that. I honestly don't even feel like a woman. Whether or not I am attractive hasn't crossed my mind in months, except for the purpose of working out how I'm feeling about these issues. Which also didn't even cross my mind until recently. It just was what it was.

And so I sit here, bathed in androgyny, waiting for something, someone to help me feel like a woman again. We can work on 'attractive' later. Right now I just want to feel like a woman.

As always thanks for checking in.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Only Time Will Tell

So after delivering Jillian via C-section, I was in the hospital for two-and-a-half days before being released. Considering I was hospitalized for five days for my vaginal delivery with Jena, I think half that time for a C-section is pretty awesome.

I had a few issues in the hospital, minor I suppose. And I have no frame of reference since it was my first C-section, so maybe they're all common.

First of all, when they removed my catheter, it was excruciatingly painful to urinate. We're talking a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale. We're talking me sobbing on the toilet. And keep in mind that at this point I'm still on pretty good pain meds. But seriously, 10 out of 10. Horrible. That took a little while to improve, and by the time I went home it was no longer painful, but was still uncomfortable to pee. But within a few more days, all was back to normal on the pee front.

Secondly, I passed a large blood clot during my first shower at the hospital. Large as in, call my husband in from the other room, and we both pulled the cords to call the nurse. I'd say roughly four inches in diameter. Large enough that they weighed it. Apparently it didn't weigh enough to be of major concern, so I was told as long as I didn't pass any others I was good to go. And I didn't, so...

Lastly, I was having horrible abdominal pain, even on the pain meds. But, you know, only when I moved. But when I moved? Easily ranged from an 8 to 10 on the pain scale. Ouch!
And not at my incision site. What was frustrating to me about this is that I was told repeatedly that if I had abdominal pain not at the incision site, I needed to let them know immediately. But when I did, I was told it was probably just from my uterus shrinking back to normal size and was nothing to worry about. So is it serious or not? Seemed to be conflicting info. Hmph.

Then on my second day home I was seen at home by a nurse. She took out my staples and did a general check up. During the check up she again mentioned that if I experienced any abdominal pain not at the incision site, I needed to let them know. So I told her I was still having horrible abdominal pain and was nearly out of my Vicodin. She assured me that it was probably 'normal', and advised me to call my doctor for a refill.

So I called the office for a refill. The nurse asked me a bunch of questions, confirmed that I was still taking the max dosage of Vicodin, talked to the doctor, then called me back to tell me that the pain I was feeling was probably normal, they'd call in another two days worth of meds, but that was it, so I needed to begin weaning off of the meds immediately. Honestly, I felt like I was treated like a drug seeker. Keep in mind my abdominal pain is not at the incision site (my incision actually never caused me trouble), and when I moved certain ways, especially lying down or getting up, my pain was easily a 10 out of 10. It was excruciating.

I attempted to wean off of the meds, but was still experiencing horrible pain, so two days later, I called and insisted on getting worked in to see the doctor. So glad I did.

I have an infection in my uterus. He could actually see the redness thru the skin. I was put on antibiotics and given a stronger pain med and orders to come back three days later.

A couple of days on the antibiotic and there was noticeable improvement. By the time I went back for my checkup, even the staff commented on how much better I looked. The doctor agreed that it seemed to be clearing up, ordered me to make sure I finished the antibiotic as prescribed, renewed my pain meds, and gave me orders to come back immediately if the pain, tenderness, or redness worsened at any point, or to come in if after I finished the antibiotic I was still experiencing any pain or tenderness at all, as by the time the antibiotic was finished the infection should be completely cleared up.

So we'll see.

Honestly, I'm not very hopeful. I've been weaning myself off the pain meds, and will run out tomorrow. Antibiotics run out in three days. Though it is much improved, I still have pain. At times up to a 3 or 4 on the pain scale. And I'm a little concerned at how bad it's gonna be after I'm off the pain meds completely. And how bad it's gonna be once I stop the antibiotics. Because I'm thinking if the infection's not completely gone by the time I stop the antibiotics, then the minute I stop them it's probably gonna flare back up again. I guess we'll just have to wait & see.

So... because of the infection, I had "babysitters" round the clock for two weeks as I was both unable to perform routine menial tasks, was in near-constant pain, and there were health concerns. Though I'm super-grateful for everything they did, I am so glad to not have a house full of people constantly. This introvert needed time alone with her family. Seriously.

So that's where we are now. Hopefully the anti-biotic will finish clearing up the infection over the next couple of days and we'll really start seeing an upswing in my recovery. Only time will tell.

As always, thanks for checking in.
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