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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better Late than Never: A VBAC Success Story

Just the other day I got word that an acquaintance had a successful VBAC. The baby was ten days (yes, 10) days overdue and weighed 9 lbs. 6 oz., I believe - the high side of normal and nothing terribly huge. The mom told me that she hired a doula for this labor (yes!) and had a great practice of midwives (even better!) and it sounded to me like a much better experience than before. 
With her first, she labored for about 17 hours and failed to progress. I think she did mention how nurses were very pushy about getting an epi and finally, she caved, which is probably why she never fully dilated. I assured her early on in this pregnancy that a doula would help her to stay more focused, and while she could have the epi this time around, her doula would be a non-partial advocate for her that could take her mind off the pain. 
I didn't want to be too pushy about suggesting a VBAC but was elated when she told me she was going to try for one. I figured I'd offer her advice based on my experience but not get too overbearing. So when she told me she was hiring a doula, I figured she'd done all the right research and would be just fine.
Welcome to the world, little man, and you can thank your mommy later for letting you come in your own sweet time. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Losing Brain Cell Mass, One Child at a Time

I used to have a brain, once upon a time. It was well-organized, could remember things like names and dates (even the day of the week!), and generally functioned very well. But that was a long, long time ago. Call it "momnesia" or whatever you like, but I can't think anymore. My three children, God bless their little hearts, have managed to zap the last ounce of quality brain function from me. There must be a hormonal link or something - didn't I read somewhere that the brains of pregnant women actually shrink? - because after three pregnancies and long-term breastfeeding, I'm sure I'm pretty hormonal. And now that my grandmother has been showing signs of age-related dementia for the last ten years or so, I'm sure there's really no sign of hope for me on the horizon in the memory department. Now that the Christmas season is in full swing, I'm finding it's worse than ever. Stress and sleep deprivation don't help. And it seems like the more sleep I get, I feel worse. I could easily go to bed at 9:30 every night, but my infant son's mom radar usually goes off on those nights and I'm up and down more than a high bounce ball. Or if he doesn't wake up, one of the others coughs or has to pee every hour on the dot and needs assistance. When I think about it, my sleep was disturbed from the time I went to college, and now that I've had children I don't think I've slept a full night since .... wow. More than six years ago. (I think being hugely pregnant is God's way of preparing you for major sleep loss once the baby is born, because even if you don't have other children keeping you up, being pregnant will certainly do the trick.) But now more than ever, I'm starting to realize that my problem with organization and lack of attention to detail is costing me money. I have to make more trips because I don't read directions anymore. I lose things and then have to work from memory (yeah, right!) when completing tasks, which usually turns out to be a horrendous joke. I find myself patting myself on the back if I've actually managed to remember even seven out of ten items on my list. Ten out of ten! - well, that's deserving of a special treat! My son even knows what day it is more than I do, (thanks to a very well-organized, childless kindergarten teacher and daily writing exercises that tell the day of the week) and seems to pay more attention than I have in weeks, maybe months (maybe years, even). (And I thought he had the attention problem.) The more organized I try to be, the worse it gets, because sometimes even the best laid plans ... well, you get the idea. When you let a 9-month-old dictate your schedule (which most times is as it should be, I think) life tends to get in the way. As do poopy diapers, crying jags and nap times. Although every year I vow not to let Christmas turn into a big fiasco, it usually ends up turning into one. The Great Sears Portrait Debacle should tell me that planning ahead (like six months in advance) is usually a better idea and that, in the end, no one will notice some of the things I am most anal about (like the holes in my son's jeans during our Christmas card picture). And maybe I'll start taking gingko biloba.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I Think People Hate the Duggars

So. Michelle and husband Jim Bob have welcomed their 19th child, a daughter, into the world. Sadly the baby is premature, but stands a nearly 85 percent chance of recovering fully, which I hope she does. Every time I read a story about these people, it makes my blood boil. Not because of them, or what their beliefs are, etc. etc. but because of the nasty, irritating comments people leave with these articles. Just horrible hatred, mostly. Idiocy cloaked in comments like "think of what it's doing to the environment," or "God gave her a brain," blah blah blah. Yeah, whatever. I'm sure Michelle Duggar doesn't wake up every morning and suddenly realize, "Hey, I have 19 children!" I'm sure she's thought of all that crap before. Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on just WHAT people have a problem with. Some say that with each child, they are posing more risks to the mother and her baby. Yes, that's true. But pregnancy can be a risk to anyone, regardless of age. (Imagine, then, if they'd known she did a VBAC - my goodness, the comments then! *sarcasm*) Women who are perfectly healthy can go on to have disabled, sickly children, miscarry, or have serious problems in pregnancy. And with all the women over 40 running around pregnant with multiples, I don't hear a flood of negative comments about that - since they are considered a 'high-risk' group for problems. People who are sooooo concerned about her internal organs, child's health and safety, blah blah blah....where are these same people when a premature infant is admitted to the hospital after being born to healthy, young parents who have just had their first child? Other moronic comments I've heard: "They are over-populating the planet!" Yeah, and so is just about everyone else. Yet, at the same time, people *are* dying! Novel idea, huh? "They are contributing to greenhouse gases/increasing their carbon footprint!" Supposedly, I've heard the Duggars lead a pretty "green" lifestyle, which is a term that I personally detest. They may do it to cut down on trash in their household, or to get money from recycled goods to offset their expenses; who knows. As one commenter wisely said, though, who's to say that one of their children couldn't solve the "problem" of "global warming"? Be the next president? Nobel Peace Prize winner? Curer of cancer? Hmm...kind of makes you think. "A uterus isn't a clown car!" OK, this one came from, among others, a friend of mine, so I'll stop short in calling her 'moronic.' However, I still think that it's Michelle's uterus, not ours, so she can do with it what she wants. Not that long ago, women routinely had large families. And dealt with it. Before the age of the internet, cable television, talking toys and yes, birth control, women had their kids - lots of 'em - and made do with what they had. They didn't live a lifestyle of expensive family vacations, second homes and three cars (unless they were insanely wealthy, I'm guessing) because they spent that money on their children, and were okay with that. I'm guessing that if Michelle Duggar were on her 19th abortion instead of pregnancy, people would be saying "It's her body." Because, after all, if you have more than 2.5 children, you're considered "brave," or an anomaly, at best. I think most people who think so negatively of the Duggars really can't put their finger on why they dislike them so much, either. But if hard-pressed -- like, if they were waterboarded in a room with terrorists -- I think they'd probably admit they don't like them because of certain things about their lifestyle. Like: • They're Christians! Yes, they do believe in God, and they live their lives as such. How dare they actually a) profess their love of Christ?! and b) actually mean it!? You mean Christians are really supposed to do that, instead of just say, "Yeah, I'm a Christian. I believe God exists!" *insert deep sigh here* So that makes them the perfect target for hate, and labeled as a bunch of nuts, all wrapped up into one convenient package. Can you imagine, allowing God to let you know when it's time to stop having kids?! (Much to my husband's chagrin, I believe in this, too, but I will say I'm not going to let God talk me into having 19. LOL) • They live debt-free. In these hard economic times, it's hard for people to get by. It seems it always is hard for people to get by, though, when they decide to spend their money on meaningless crap instead of invest wisely or save - this much seems true of any economic situation. The 'don't buy what you can't afford' mentality of our grandparents and great-grandparents is a dead philosophy, ushering in the 'buy it because it'll make you feel good, even though you don't really need it!' approach. Since the Duggars manage to live without debt, in a house big enough to comfortably hold all those people, in spite of hard economic times, it makes them even more hateable. Like the old Morrissey song says, "We hate it when our friends become successful." We despise seeing people succeed where most others have failed, and feel like because we're struggling, they should, too. How dare they?! In the end, I think people mostly detest them because they're different. Just like a group of chickens who peck a strange-looking bird until it dies, we mostly like to denigrate them because they do things a bit differently than the norm, like homeschool all their kids, raise a super-large family, and manage to turn out a nice, well-behaved bunch of (normal) kids. How can they get any alone time? They can't, just like I can't with my husband and I only have three kids. Some things, regardless of size and shape, are always the same.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not a Super Mom, Just a Little Bipolar, Maybe

I'm beginning to wonder lately if I'm bipolar. Or just even slightly neurotic. Either way, I think sometimes that there's definitely something wrong with me. As of my last post, we still have not had Christmas portraits taken. After all the frantic phone calls, cancellations, re-schedules and other random craziness, plus working all **** day long on a beautiful Christmas dress for my daughter (which prompted much stress and yelling) I ended up having to Officially Cancel the Appointment for Good because the weather was simply dreadful once we finally screamed and yelled and piled our way into the van. That, and the portrait lady told me they wouldn't be ready until after I'd be out of town.* I nearly cried. Actually, I did cry a little. Because I was thinking "I really want to get this done/all I wanted was special family portraits/how can I actually think this will work in a blinding snowstorm?/who cares about the weather!/the weather is awful and let's just go home!" In other words, a crazy mix of things, none of which made any sense. My husband called me selfish. Which is probably the truth. I try to address dozens of Christmas cards, have photos for our special ornaments each year (which, by the way, need painted, bejeweled, beaded or whatever notion I have in my head at the moment), and make dozens of elaborate cookies and other goodies for Christmas bazaars, book club and church cookie exchanges. (I actually thought, with the time I saved by not getting portraits done last night, about making Linzer cookie cutouts before I had to be somewhere else a few hours later.) It's not because I'm Martha Stewart, or a Super Mom. It's because I'm certifiably nuts. And yet, in the midst of all the stress and anxiety, I will sometimes have periods of total lack of motivation, where even cooking dinner for my family is a chore (oatmeal, anyone?). There are so many unfinished projects screaming my name, yet I want to go out and get more. Or see the pile of undone things and think, Why bother? It's taller than I am. In the last week I entertained the notion of making not one, but two dishes for a church dinner; taking a baked dessert to a neighbor; driving in more blinding snow to get those stupid Christmas cards printed out (but in all honesty, I do need toilet paper) and probably a million other things. I dragged my children out in more crappy weather the other night to buy a Christmas exchange gift for this week's preschool deadline (no school anyway, by the way, because it's a snow day), and then dashed over to the Dollar Tree for elf hats because the Christmas card picture with reindeer antlers just didn't do it for me. (And, coincidentally, all the pictures for said Christmas cards kind of stink, but to those who love pictures of my kids either way, they'll be just fine.) I stood at the sink last night running the water for 15 minutes straight to thaw some shrimp for my book club, only to forget it in the refrigerator. Sometimes I think I work against myself - or dig myself into a bigger hole, because the more organized and planned I try to be, the worse it gets. Especially when my family is held hostage to an even newer, bigger, better idea that comes into my head. I just can't seem to stop myself. I toyed with the idea of going out today in between the lull of one snowstorm and the beginning of another, and had to talk myself down from the ledge that was Stress in the form of holiday shopping/Christmas card printing/other general craziness in favor of taking it easy, trying for the eighth time to get the baby to nap, and getting important things done at home (you know, like hanging garland, putting lights in the windows and addressing more freaking Christmas cards). Laundry and vacuuming? Who needs to do those things? Once in a while I literally need to slap my own hand like a mother would her child, telling myself in a stern voice, "No!" (Although I do still need toilet paper.) * I did decide to call Penney's instead for our Christmas pictures, and not only got a very nice lady on the phone right away, but will get my pictures back in time for Christmas. Which makes me feel like a complete @@@, because usually most things work out for the better anyway, regardless of your stress level. Just one more thing I need to keep in perspective.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Bane of My Existence: Christmas Portraits

As if I haven't already overextended myself this holiday season, I am on another Mother Mission: Christmas portraits. It's only December 4 and already I'm freaking out. I haven't decorated my house yet, have two huge sheets of Oreo truffles in the fridge waiting to melt in time for my son's school Christmas bazaar, and now have the daunting task of making a holiday dress for my daughter in time for our cutesy family photo. I thought, What a great idea! since it had officially been five years since our last one. That prompted me to call Sears. Well. A quick search online has revealed that I can (and did) schedule my portrait online. However, with only three weeks left, I wondered how long it would take them to be ordered. I realize they can print them out in the studio while you wait, which does cost more (a policy that I don't think they do a very good job of disclosing up-front). It has been my experience that when sent out, they turn out better. At least among those portraits that I've actually managed to hang up around my house. Because the turnaround time is probably going to be too long, I'm tempted to take them myself. As a slightly amateurish photographer who has taken plenty of portraits of her children, I know this is possible, but I'd almost rather have an unmedicated root canal, to be perfectly honest. That's why we call the professionals. At least when they answer the phone. I say this because I've been trying to reach someone at my local Sears Portrait Studio for the last four hours plus, with no luck. Just to ask that simple question. I really don't blame them. I can just picture the scenario: there is one lone manager running the place with six or eight families waiting, all with kids in fancy dresses that are itchy and uncomfortable. Poopy diapers, a few runny noses, and moms with unrealistic expectations of how their photos should turn out. All who want a lot of something for nothing, basically, which seems to be true of the retail industry in general today. (gotta stimulate that economy somehow, I guess) I know now not to blame the photographers after searching online for the answer to my question. I really didn't find it, but I did find how the corporate company that owns the studios, CPI, basically seems to treat their employees like crap. Just based on the few things I read, they are forced to schedule appointment sessions every 15 minutes (as if!) and then force expensive packages onto their customers, lest they risk losing their jobs. A quick Google search will reveal that they also own Picture Me! Studios from Walmart, and they basically treat those people the same way. So, so sad. Fifteen minutes to photograph a couple of snot-nosed kids who don't feel well and would rather go play or puke everywhere than get their picture taken - sounds about right. You can't even get everyone into the same room in 15 minutes, much less have the session completely over with. I know, because photographing my own children is like herding elephants through the eye of a needle. Perhaps the management at CPI don't have children, otherwise they'd realize this fact themselves. It's really too bad, because overall, I think the photographers at Sears know what they're doing and produce a good product. It's just too bad that they also have unrealistic expectations hanging over their heads by an out-of-touch management staff who wants nothing more than more money from the unsuspecting public. So, because I'm so neurotic and anal (and a bit of a procrastinator, it seems), I will probably end up shooting my children's pictures myself. Better go and schedule that root canal.