Tag Archives: Dallas Ann

Mother Borg

12 Dec

Today I attended a mini morning retreat for ladies in the parenting group I’m a member of. The theme was “Relax and Reflect”. One of the reflection exercises was designed to force us out of “mommy mode” and reconnect with ourselves removed from being a good mom. We were to pick one characteristic or skill that we are awesome at and write it down.

I couldn’t think of anything.

Well, I could think of some things but they were all “good mom” related. I kind of wanted to cry. Where did I go? How did I get so disconnected from myself? I felt like I was immersed in a hive mindset, so to speak. Solely focused on my family, children, and spouse. Those are all VERY important things, vital to my life and essential to my world BUT having a mommy and wife who is one step away from becoming a Borg isn’t beneficial, either.

So where do I find the balance? Where do I locate ME, yet still maintain my focus on my 2 babies and spouse?

In the past, I’ve tried getting out of the house by myself or just with a young nursing baby (so far, all of my children are boob snobs and refuse a bottle. UGH.). I’ve tried escaping into books, the internet, and talking on the phone. While all of these options are good tools to use in moderation, I was missing a key point. In using these tools, I was trying to escape from the stresses of the day and ignore my reality. Yes, I do recognize the necessity of simply zoning out but if that’s all I do, where’s the recharging of my spirit? Where’s the energy to face the next meltdown or financial discussion?

At the mini morning retreat, I got some great ideas that I hope to implement. One that I hope to start as soon as possible involves art therapy. This morning, I made made my first Mandala. A Mandala is a drawn circle and the user fills it with shapes, colors, and lines. The goal is to draw like no one else is looking, and as if no one else will see it. You aren’t suppose to work towards the end product. The point is the process, not the end result. Then, when you feel like you’re finished, title and date it. At this point, you can throw it away, store it, or burn it. Basically whatever strikes your fancy!

The Mandala I created today was very calming for me. I focused on my immediate feels about this morning and expressed it in colors. By working through my emotions and viewpoints in an abstract manner, I was able to see things in a different light. I felt calm and emotionally centered. At that point, I decided that I needed to make a habit of this. I need to carve out just ten minutes from my day to sort out and process the way my day unfolded.

My goal is to try and do this every evening once I get supplies (that will be next week after we get Aaron’s unemployment check). I hope to get a spiral bound sketch book and some sort of art media. I thought that the oil pastels were pretty cool today but I should probably stick with crayons for the sake of frugality! On the front of each sheet, I’ll create my Mandala with a title and date. On the back of that page, I’ll journal two or three sentences about my creation.

I hope that by doing this, I’ll find a new tool to recharge and refill my emotional bucket. I’m even considering scanning and posting one Mandala a week to keep myself accountable. Is that too weird?

Going back to the inability to think of something that I rock at to write on my rock. Now that I’m home and have processed things more, I’ve come up with an entire list! A few things on the list include: being frugal, knitting, writing, cooking from scratch, and trip planning. It’s rather encouraging to realize I’m not a Borg Mom. Hopefully I can maintain my resistance to the hive mind through a new balance.

A Moment of Peace and Silence

24 Sep

Well, relative silence. The radio is playing softly in the background.

Ella and Miles are both napping at the same time and I am holding neither of them! It’s a wonderful, glorious feeling. I got dishes washed, dinner in the crockpot, my lunch made and eaten while still warm. Oh, and used the bathroom BY MYSELF. Truly miraculous, I assure you.

I had a bit of a revelation last night and this morning. By the time Aaron got home from work, I was physically and emotionally at the end of my rope. My responses to any and all situations or questions were way out of proportion and I physically felt drugged. It was horrible. Aaron whisked Ella off to bed and I crawled into my own with Miles. Amazingly enough, he worked through Angry Baby Time with record speed and was out like a light by 8 pm! Instead of fulfilling my desire to stay up and do something for myself like read, knit, or watch tv on hulu.com, I turned off the lights and went to sleep.

This morning, I was able to get up without falling back to sleep for a few minutes. We ran errands to the local butcher shop and farmer’s market this morning, all before 10 am! Dinner is perking away in the crockpot with fresh pork chops and produce harvested locally and I was able to prep it while soothing Miles and involving Ella in the cooking process. The kids were the only ones to fall asleep during nap time, so now I am rewarded with a real lunch to be consumed while sitting down.

I need to remember that meeting my physical needs, no matter how desperately I crave some solo time, always has to come first. If I get enough sleep and eat appropriately, I am a better mom to my kids, a better wife to my husband, but most importantly I am better to myself.

And this picture has nothing to do with the topic of this post, but I find it super cute. I hear Ella calling from the kitchen for me to bring her the salt because she’s cooking. I was a bit alarmed, thinking she might be getting into something dangerous. Instead, this is what I found:

Me cooking, mama!

No regrets

25 Jun

The other day, I realized I have no regrets. Yes, I do feel bad that I have had a lapse of emotional control and yelled at Ella. I do feel bad that I have spanked her once or twice. But I realize that I am only human and have forgiven myself and asked Ella for forgiveness as well. She might not understand the words, but she certainly comprehends the emotions behind my words.

I don’t regret spending hours upon hours sitting on the couch while she cluster nursed for days on end, even though I was so fed up and ready just to throw in the towel.

I don’t regret being a few minutes late for church because it was so important for her to find her Little Baby to ride in the car with us. If anything, I learned that we need to get going earlier to allow for her needs.

I don’t regret holding nonstop conversation with her in the grocery store, even though I look the fool, to keep her involved in the situation and avoid a melt down.

I don’t regret being dairy free while nursing and preparing dairy free food and removing oranges from our diet (all things I love!) because I know that in 18 years or so, she’ll be out of the house and I’ll have the rest of my life to enjoy those things. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I’ve been in tears in the grocery store aisle but it is all temporary and this too shall pass.

I don’t regret having to lock myself in the bathroom for 2 minutes while she pounds on the other side just so I can get a breath and shed a tear or two before composing myself and deal with her being SUCH a toddler.

I don’t regret the emotional exhaustion I come to from finding new ways to deal with her toddler nature, to help her learn appropriate ways to express emotions and live within home boundaries/rules without squelching her personality.

I don’t regret leaving her with my husband or friends for a few hours to get out of the house childfree (well, as child free as a pregnant woman can be) to refresh and replenish my emotional and mental well being.

THIS is what I need to remember when I’m struggling. 12 years from now, I will NOT regret spending this time and energy in raising my child. I am doing the right thing, even though I am a flawed human and will make mistakes. As long as I admit them, make the appropriate repairs, and learn, they won’t be regrets.

Photo tag

18 Jun

The lovely and marvelous Mrs. Soup tagged me for this photo meme!

These are the rules:

~ Open my first photo folder
~ Scroll down to the 10th photo
~ Post that photo and story on my blog
~ Tag five friends to do the same

The first photo folder on my computer only has 3 pictures in it, so I went to the next one. To my horror, this is what came up as the 10th picture:

IMG_4029

This was taken late last October, when Ella discovered that pants can not only go on your legs but on your head too! Of course, she insisted I partake in this fashion. I had taken pictures of her with pants on her head, so there was no way I was getting out of not having my picture taken as well.

I think I look rather fierce.

😀

At this point, I’m suppose to tag 5 friends to do the same but I don’t know five friends who have blogs and read mine! So consider yourself tagged and please post a comment with a link to your pictures. I want to see!

3rd trimester

23 May
Week 28

Week 28

Hello 3rd trimester. You’re officially kicking my butt. Not only am I more exhausted than in the 1st trimester but my clothes are beginning to not fit!

Miles seems to be settling down and preferring one position over another lately. He also kicks so hard you can see my entire belly move! Ella never did that, so it’s quite the experience. Something else I’ve notices is that whenever Aaron touches my belly, Miles immediately kicks where he’s touching. Aaron is the only one who elicits that kind of response.

I feel like there has been a significant amount of growth over the past two weeks. Some mornings I find myself bumping into things I didn’t knock into the day before and have to readjust how I gauge distances all over again. I’m also going very distinctly OUT as opposed to Ella when I went carried extremely high and went out to the side.

The Elephant In The Room

9 May

There’s a topic in our society that we simply don’t talk about because it’s uncomfortable. A few gathered here or there may discuss it but as a general rule, things are swept under the rug. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s not a happy issue to discuss but most women you know have probably struggled with it to some extent. Some have done small skirmishes; others have had to wage war. Others are still fighting.

This practice is a huge disservice to those around us who are struggling with the very issues no one wants to talk about. It’s not just random strangers on the street, either. It could be our mother, sister, or friend who is emotionally crying out for help but doesn’t know how to ask for it or that help is even available. Some are too ashamed of what is going on and others are afraid of being labeled and thought less of for what they are going through.

What I’m bringing out from under the rug, discussing in the daylight, is postpartum depression.

I’m not a medical professional, a counselor, or a therapist. I’m simply a mom who has been through some very dark times and want to share my story in the hopes that it will help others.

A lot of people assume that postpartum depression happens only to those who have a form of birth trauma, a newborn spending time in the NICU, or breastfeeding struggles. I can assure you that while those situations certainly have the potential of setting the stage for postpartum depression, my birth experience was simply amazing. It was empowering and the single most amazing experience of my life. I had no intervention, no trauma, and a very healthy daughter who took to breastfeeding like a fish does to water.

About three weeks after Ella’s birth, I began to experience severe anxiety. My primary fear was that she had stopped breathing in her sleep, so I started staying awake most of the night to make sure she was okay. This progressed to not being able to set her down on the floor while I used the bathroom.

Things got worse. Not only was I severely sleep deprived, but I began to have horrible mental images of Aaron (my husband) getting into a car accident and leaving me a widow with a newborn. My mind would obsess over the details of how I would manage life after he was gone. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house because what if I got in a car accident? It was the dead of winter in the Midwest and even taking myself outside was not an option. I began to keep the blinds closed all day throughout the house because I would break down in tears when I’d see a mom drive past with her kids in the car because I so desperately wanted to get out but was too afraid to go.

Reading this in black and white seems pretty obvious what was going on. You have to remember that this crept up so slowly and snuck into my life that I didn’t even realize what was going on. I even thought it was okay and normal and I didn’t want to worry my husband or friends with something that was “obviously not an issue”.

What made me realize that things were out of control and beyond any sense of normal was one night, about 4 months after Ella’s birth, I got out of bed at 2:48 am. For about an hour, I sat on the living room couch, sobbing and thinking how much better off my husband and child would be if I wasn’t in their lives. I was horrible at being a mom, horrible at being a wife, horrible at even just being Dallas Ann. I began to imagine getting into my car and driving off the bridge into the river. I got so far as to put my shoes on to leave when I stopped myself. Still sobbing, I peeled my shoes off and went back to bed.

The next morning, I called my midwife and she saw me that afternoon. Until my appointment, I searched online, trying to find something to explain what was going on. This website is, by far, the one that helped me the most. After I finally admitted to myself that there was a problem, I took the quiz, printed it out, and took it in with me to my midwife appointment. I was at a total and complete loss as to how to even begin talking about this, so I simply handed her the printed quiz and let that do the talking for me.

One of the few pictures I remember taking.

One of the few pictures I remember taking.

To this day, I don’t remember the first 5 months of my daughter’s life. There are a few, brief moments glimmering in my mind that I cling to. For the most part, I look back through her baby pictures and can’t remember a single moment that I captured. It breaks my heart.

The thing I credit to maintaining my emotional bond with Ella is breastfeeding. We simply could not afford formula and I had such an abundance of milk that I could feed a small nation. Breastfeeding forced me to make eye contact with her, converse with her, and interact. If we had the finances to use formula, I can promise you that I would have put her in the swing, propped the bottle, and ignored the entire world.

I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding one bit until my postpartum depression began to lift at around 5 or 6 months when my antidepressants began to rebalance the chemicals in my brain. Even after that, breastfeeding was never something I found totally enjoyable but at least it was tolerable and a neutral experience for me.

Yes, I am scared of experiencing postpartum depression again after Miles is born. At times, I’m terrified at the prospect. Then I have to remind myself that I now have local “mommy friends” who I’ve shared this experience with and they’ve offered to be support me. Aaron now knows what to watch for, what questions to ask, and what to do. My beloved midwife told me at my appointment this week that she will simply not allow it to happen again. I have relationships, safety networks, and plans in place for after the birth of my son. Even if I do hit rough patches, I know – No, I believe that it will never be as bad as it was after Ella was born.

Through this experience, I have discovered a number of in person resources that may be available in your community. There is an abundance of online support groups that are just a Google search away, but I found I needed face to face support.

Le Leche League – Even though the group is dedicated to breastfeeding, all the LLL leaders I have ever spoken to are dedicated to the whole mother. They see more than just a milk machine, I promise. 🙂

Contact the hospital you gave birth at. If you had a homebirth, call a hospital that seems to be the most baby or mother friendly. Ask to speak with their lactation consultant.  One of our local hospitals provides weekly support groups for moms who are struggling with postpartum depression, a free counselor who specializes in grief and postpartum depression, and a monthly “get out of the house” get together at the local mall where all the moms walk around with their babies as a group. I’m sure that if my random Midwest town has these resources, yours will have something.

Check out Attachment Parenting International . HERE is where you will find a listing of all their groups. This will provide you with play groups, parenting support, and a reason to get out of the house. It is because of my local API group that I began to find other women who were willing to share their experiences with me and I discovered I was not alone, a freak of nature, or a horrible mother because of suffering from postpartum depression.

If you live in the United States, there should be a WIC program (Women, Infants, and Children) in your area. They will have information about low cost or sliding scale fee services that can provide you and your family counseling and support to help you get through this season of your life.

If none of these resources are available to you, my favorite place online to get support is at the Mothering.com message boards. Scroll down and you’ll find their postpartum depression forum that is full of women who have been where you are now or are in the same place. It is full of compassion and open arms.

As a final thought, if you are struggling with postpartum depression or know someone who is, please remember that it is NOT your fault. It is not God punishing you. It is an actual medical condition that can be changed. If you and your health care provider decide that being on antidepressants are necessary, please don’t feel like a failure. I struggled with a lot of emotional baggage regarding depression medication.

What finally helped me feel comfortable using the medication is that this is simply a season in my life. I’m not going to be dependent on this drug for the rest of my life. If I’m trying to bake a cake, I can’t do it with just sugar. I need a whole list of ingredients and if you leave one out, it’s not going to turn out well. My anti depression medication is one of those ingredients. I need other elements to help me through this period in addition to the medication, but I need it all to have a whole and healthy Dallas Ann in the end.

No longer a pain in the butt

8 May

Got back from the chiropractor appointment this morning. I was very apprehensive about seeing him but my left hip, down my left leg, and neck were to the point of unbearable pain. It would at least be worth a shot to discuss my medical history and see what he had to say, especially since he is incredibly affordable! Every single chiropractor I’ve interviewed has had NO idea what my spinal condition is or what it entails. I simply refuse to let anyone who is uneducated on my condition to adjust me. Well, Dr G not only knew what it was but had just recently read an article in a medical journal about a new way doctors are surgically treating it to prevent the lack of mobility I have now as a result of the surgeries. To top it off, he knew how serious a grade 5 is. Color me shocked and stunned!

Another thing I really appreciated was that he explained before touching me exactly what he was going to do, how he was going to do it, and how the interior of my body would look after the adjustment. He shared this information in such a way that it didn’t make me feel uneducated and also instilled a sense of trust in me regarding his abilities.

While I don’t feel 100% better, I was able to get out of the car at home without wanting to cry and I’m walking without a limp! On Tuesday morning, I have another appointment. After that, he feels that I can come every other week to compensate for my ever changing pregnant self. After the baby is born, he assured me that once a month would be adequate for maintenance but if I needed to be seen more, I’d know and to just call for an appointment.

There is a time and place for the traditional medical field. I’m very thankful for what the medical world has to offer — I’d be in a wheel chair if it wasn’t for those resources. However, I am incredibly grateful for the world of alternative medicine that is offered through chiropractic care, massage therapy, holistic treatments and so much more.

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