Monday, November 29, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

So here's where I alienate some people.

I'm a follower of Christ. It took me a long time to come to this conclusion. I wasn't raised in a religious household. My options were open to me, so to speak - I could explore different religions through research, and my father had decided I could follow whatever religion I wanted when I was old enough to decide. (Of course, now that he's heading down the path of Buddhism, and I've pursued Christianity, he's not exactly thrilled with my decision.) When I was pregnant with Aurora, my husband and my mother-in-law took me to a church here in Michigan, called Kensington Community Church. It's a non-denominational church - a megachurch, in fact. It's very contemporary and people like me are its main aim. It aims to bring people who don't know Jesus and find church daunting to a life with Christ. It's very welcoming.

Anyway, Mike and I have been attending the Lake Orion campus of Kensington, and have become rather well-known among quite a few of the attenders and staff, probably because Aurora is just so darn cute. (Probably not, but I do like saying she is... because she is!) People say hi to us, we say hi to them. I love it.

On Friday, six days before Thanksgiving, Mike lost his job.This was very unexpected, and it hit me hard. Mike was extremely optimistic, believing that God would provide. I found it very hard to believe that, although I did try. We both posted about it on Facebook, where we are both friends with one of Kensington Lake Orion's staff members. Sue absolutely rushed into action. We had so many offers of help from so many different people... They told us about the community help manager that could assist us with bills, they told us about job opportunities they'd heard about. They even got a small group to offer to sponsor us for Christmas so we wouldn't have to worry about gifts for Aurora for Christmas. We were so overwhelmed with offers, we didn't even know where to start!

Thankfully, Mike was technically only unemployed for one day, which is nearly unheard of here in Michigan! By Monday evening he had a temporary position through a staffing agency, and by Wednesday evening he was hired at a computer consulting firm. He started that position on Friday, and it was actually a raise over his old job! We had to go through and decline all the offers for help, and believe me, that's always the answer people WANT to hear. We directed the small group to another couple we know who are in a similar situation to what we were in, and the small group was very appreciative to know that we knew another couple that needed help.

Our prayers, and the prayers of all our friends, family, and fellow attenders of Kensington were definitely answered last week. What started out as a hopeless situation (to me, anyway) turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. I just wish I could have seen it that way from the beginning.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First World Problems

(note: this post was written initially in notepad, approximately six and half hours prior to this posting.)

Have you ever heard that phrase, "first world problems?" It means, in short, "stop whining and be glad for what you have."

See, I'm sitting here without power at the moment (thank you, laptops!) because the electric company is out here fixing the faulty wiring our condo building has. For most of the morning, all I could think was "ugh, I am so bored. I wish I could listen to music/watch TV/cook lunch/vacuum my floor/whatever that requires power." The temperature has been slowly dropping all day to the point where I'm wearing gloves inside.

As I reached for my gloves, I suddenly realized that I was whining (in my head, really) for no good reason. How many people out there in the world would be absolutely grateful beyond belief to be in my shoes right now? How many people would love to be sitting in a fully-enclosed home, with a roof over their head that doesn't leak? Sure, the furnace isn't kicking on right now, but the cold wind outside wouldn't be cutting through to their very bones. They'd have shelter. Something I take for granted every day.

I think Americans on the whole don't appreciate what we have. (I am most definitely 100% including myself in this.) Most of us are born in families that have a roof over their heads, and food on the table (most of the time, at least.) The thought that we could ever have less never really occurs to us, and then when we have a minor inconvenience happen (for example, the electric company turning off your power for half the day to make your lights stop flickering and your power stop cutting out for a split-second when a major appliance turns on) we whine. Oh goodness, did I whine. Here, let me share with you what I posted on Facebook just about an hour before the scheduled power outage. (That's right, I KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING and I still whined.)

"Okay, DTE - you had better fix the problem we have with the electricity. I'm sick of my power dimming every time a major appliance kicks on/off, and while I'm none too thrilled to not have power for 3 hours (Aurora gets water with her snacks, thank goodness, so I don't HAVE to open the fridge) I'd rather have not-flickering."

I feel kind of ashamed that I even said that now. I have it so, so easy in comparison to so many people in this world, and yet I took it for granted. I still do, in fact. I am incredibly selfish. Horribly selfish. Terrible. It's one of my largest failings. I hate it about myself. Absolutely hate it.

I think I'm going to go sit and think about this some more. The three extra hours without power (ultimately 4 and three-quarters hours) have actually been a good thing, I think. It opened my eyes to something I don't realize about myself often enough.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I'll start this post by making it very clear that I don't often remember my dreams, so I won't really detail any here.

I have odd dreams. If I remember them, anyway. I don't have those dreams often where it's just a normal every day action, something weird always has to happen. For example, when I was in first grade, I had a dream that a robot was trying to change me into a robot. I was terrified of our linen closet for weeks after that dream. In high school, I had a recurring dream that I was about to go on stage and start to play a solo for a performance (I was in the band in school).

A few months after I had the miscarriage, and a few months before I became pregnant with Aurora, I had a dream that I'd had the baby anyway and it had been in the NICU, and when Mike and I went to pick the baby up, I just kind of sat it up in the back seat and buckled it in. It was very out of character for me to not care about a baby, especially one that was my own. That dream disturbed me a bit.

When I was pregnant with Aurora, I had many, many dreams focusing on death, excepting the one where I nursed Baloo. (Baloo is our super-adorable fluffy gray cat, and I highly doubt she would let me nurse her.) I dreamed that people murdered Mike, and then chased the nameless, genderless baby and me down. One particularly terrifying one was brought on by a neighbor chopping down one of their trees with a chainsaw - the murderer in that dream was Jason. I've never even SEEN a Friday the 13th movie. I suppose those fears of death were brought on by the previous miscarriage, because once we had the big ultrasound at about 20 weeks, the dreams stopped. I had just odd dreams after that.

This is a little weird to me because I'm at cycle day 37 of a menstrual cycle that generally only lasts 33 days, and last night I had a dream where Mike, Aurora, and I almost died, and then Mike and I ended up in jail for some reason (and yet, I could keep Aurora with me. Yeah, that's a great place for a toddler.) I woke up feeling generally off. I've also had a few questionable symptoms... It wouldn't be exactly tragic if we were to be expecting a baby again, but we're really not prepared yet. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Not Dead, I Promise

Like the title says: Really, I'm not dead. I just kind of had life sneak up on me and maul me so viciously, like life tends to do.

My life isn't too drastically different from when I last posted, I suppose - I'm still nursing Aurora, although now with her at 14 months the concerns of my low supply are behind us. She nurses for the comfort now, and I don't really make enough for it to be any more than that. This is fine, this is what I wanted, and words cannot express just how happy I am to be able to tell people, "Yes, I have a low milk supply, but look what I managed to do!" It makes me happy to know that I could potentially be a cheerleader to other women dealing with the same thing.

Aurora is also walking. She was a little behind in physical milestones, learning to roll over at about 5 months, to sit up unassisted at about 7 or 8 months, putting herself into a seated position at 9 months, crawling at 10 months. I had to fight back the scream of joy I wanted to let out when she learned to walk at 12 and a half months old, and now at 14 months she practically runs, and has also figured out how to walk backward. Is this normal? I have no idea.

I'm having a bit of a personal struggle at the moment - I appear to be unable to lose weight. I started up my Wii Fit Plus again, and was just watching my weight sloooooowly creep up, anywhere from a quarter to a half pound a day. This may be possibly explained by the approach of my lady time (due tonight) or a completely freakish late ovulation and thus pregnancy. I will readily admit that I haven't been perfect with my eating, and could probably stand to drink a bit more water than I do, although I drink normally about 9 glasses or so. I guess what I'm saying is, I know I'm doing a lot of stuff wrong, but it's REALLY discouraging to just watch that line that is my weight slowly creeping up.

I've been following FlyLady and WOW. My house has been looking phenomenal. (Although not as good as it could, as I look into my kitchen and cringe) My husband appreciates coming home to a house that's at least not trashed, which is something he didn't always get from me. Before Aurora was born, I will freely admit that I didn't do much at all. I'd kind of run around picking stuff up in a dash, throwing it all into the "spare room" (or as I fondly called it, "the place stuff goes to die") and vacuuming before guests come over. I'd kind of try to keep people out of the kitchen (as that was always a wreck) and... I can't do that in this condo. The kitchen is truly the heart of this home, right next to the dining room, which is right next to the living room. I can't try to hide it from people. So, I must clean it, and that's really where my main encouragement has been. I'm pretty excited.

I suppose I should leave more updates for future posts so I have reason to write, huh?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I am very indecisive when it comes to my hair. I have been for a good portion of my life. I'll grow out my hair, and love it when it's long... until it drives me crazy. And then I will cut it off. Sometimes to my shoulders, sometimes to my chin. Sometimes I'll rock the boyish haircuts.

About a year before I had Aurora, I had cut my hair from my waist to my shoulders. I donated it to Locks of Love, like I had two years prior (similar haircut - waist to shoulders). It came out to being about 14 inches of hair, and I was very proud of it. I decided I was going to grow it out again and donate it, unless it drove me nuts before that.

When Aurora was three months old, I got sick of her little hands grabbing my waist-length hair. It was long enough for her to reach, and the reflex was causing her hands to close around fistfuls of it. It was giving me headaches from the weight in ponytails, so I cut it to my chin. I liked it, and so did my husband. I wore that haircut until last night, when I got fed up with her reaching up to pull it herself. At seven months old, she didn't understand me telling her not to pull my hair, and even putting it back into a ponytail (as it was just below my shoulders by now) wasn't working, because she'd grab it from the scalp behind my ear and pull it out from the pony.

So, I talked my husband into it, and we got into the car and headed to a Great Clips (yeah, I don't really do the fancy places). I warned him it was going to be short. I figured it was fair, he finally talked me into letting him shave his hair off completely, which I wasn't too fond of at first, but have grown to love.

This is what I walked out with:

My poor husband was shocked. He admitted he didn't like it. I reminded him that I didn't like his completely naked head at first, either, but I like it now.

By the next morning, he admitted he likes it. I'm sure it'll continue to grow on him. I love it. I love the ease - five minute showers as opposed to fifteen. Styling is still simple, even if it involves a blow-dryer instead of a clip. Aurora can't pull it unless I have her up on my shoulders, and then I'm asking for it anyway. I love it.

Now to get over the fact that I LOOK LIKE MY MOTHER.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So Easy, Yet...

It's so easy to get caught up in real life, and to forget other things you wanted to do with your time. When I decided to start writing this blog, I wanted to dedicate time to it every day. I figured, "Hey, it'll be easy! Sit down and write for just a few minutes a day!" What I didn't anticipate would be how hard finding that time would be when you've got a daughter that only naps for 30 minutes at a time, doesn't really nap anywhere but on you, and doesn't go to bed at the same time every night. Finding things to write about when you spend just about every day inside, doing the same things over and over again, is hard. Finding the motivation when you're already drained from juggling child-rearing with housework, housework with being a good wife, is hard.

Aurora has been doing well with weight gain, going from 9 lbs 10 oz to 11 lbs in about a month and a half. Still a bit slower than we'd like, but I'm doing my best. I've started taking domperidone in addition to the fenugreek and blessed thistle and that seems to have helped, even if I only started it a few days ago. I've noticed that I'm pumping more after a feeding, and the amount she's taking from the SNS has dropped. We started going to a new doctor for her, since the old one was by our old house. It was probably three weeks between when we saw her pediatrician last and when we started going to this new family doctor, and she'd only gained five ounces. Not good. So, I increased the amount I was supplementing with from two to three ounces, and became more aggressive about pumping (as in I stopped being lazy and did it every time, instead of some of the time.) I started waking up at 4 AM to pump, unless she was in bed with us (which had her snacking all night). In two weeks, she gained one pound. Today was supposed to be her next weigh-in, but it snowed a ton last night and frankly, I'm scared of the roads. My new plan is to have us go tomorrow, come home and eat dinner, then go to La Leche League. Missing tomorrow is not an option, as I'm down to about 20 oz of donated breast milk in my freezer, and I'd prefer the safety net of having more. I don't freeze any of my own milk, I use it fresh so that I can make the donated stuff last longer. That, and I just like seeing the ladies. :)

Right after Aurora's two-month immunizations, she started sleeping through the night, midnight to eight AM. This spoiled me, because right after her four-month immunizations, she didn't anymore. I wanted to scream. I had to bring her to bed with us to get any manner of sleep. We co-slept for a few months when she was small enough to be swaddled and that worked okay, but once she got too big for the swaddle, sleeping with her is very difficult. She's not a "dreamfeeder," meaning both of us have to wake up for her to eat, and I have to remain awake for the entire feeding. She also enjoys kicking me in her sleep. Overall, this means I get very little quality sleep. We both sleep better in our individual beds. I only got her back into her crib a week or so ago, and two nights ago ended up with her in our bed again after she refused to go down in her crib. I ended up giving up at 3:30, figuring that poor sleep was better than no sleep.

I wish she were reliable again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year

I have been gone. I came to realize I have major milk supply issues and I've needed to work on those. How did I learn this?
  • I stopped waking up engorged when my daughter would sleep through the night.
  • My appetite declined sharply.
  • My daughter fussed a lot.
  • My daughter was very, very skinny. She was born at 8 lbs, 6 oz - at three and a half months old, she weighed 9 pounds.
So, I have been using donated breastmilk to supplement in a supplemental nursing system after I nurse her (she takes between 1 and 2 ounces per feeding from that), pumping after nursing, and taking 33 pills a day. (3 brewer's yeast, 4 fenugreek, 3 blessed thistle, and one multivitamin, 3 times a day.) This has helped IMMENSELY. It's tiring, my day is basically nurse, use the SNS, change Aurora, pump, wash SNS and pump parts, play with Aurora for about half an hour, let her nap for a half hour, rinse and repeat. All day. It's exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I believe it's worth it, though - in one week, she went from 9 pounds to 9 pounds, 10 ounces... She'll have another doctor's appointment soon and we'll see how well she's continued to do.

Mike has two cousins who have children around Aurora's age. Both of them have already stopped breastfeeding, presumably due to supply issues similar to mine. It makes me a little sad that they would give up instead of fighting to continue. Yes, I spend most if not all of my day sitting in the recliner nursing my daughter, but I know she's getting what's best for her. She is completely worth the effort I'm expending to do this, and I can't imagine doing anything less than everything I can for her.

My mother and my step-father drove back up here to Michigan from Illinois to help me out while I got this straightened out, and it has helped me so much. Part of my problem was that I wasn't eating enough food. My body barely had enough to sustain me, much less both of us, so it gave up the milk to keep me going. Now that I'm eating at least two small snacks between each meal (crackers and cream cheese, or yogurt and granola, things like that) and massive breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in comparison to how I used to eat, I'm feeling a difference. It's sad that it took me four months to realize it, but I just had to do it. When they had to leave, Mike stepped in and made sure I kept going.

I'll admit it - I'm scared. Mike is going back to work tomorrow (he was on vacation this last week, before that my mother was here) and I'll be on my own during the day. I'm not sure why it frightens me, I've taken care of her alone before... I think the reason I'm so scared is because all these problems started while I was taking care of her alone. I'm scared that if I'm left alone again, I'll fail again.

By the way, we did start on cloth diapers. I personally find them very, very easy, and Aurora's face brightened the first time I put one on her. I said to her, "yes, sweetheart, I'd rather wear normal undies than newspaper, too."