Archive for May 2008

Lazy or Just Pacing Myself?

May 30, 2008

My new baby daughter is three weeks old today.  I’m still not doing much more than trying to keep up on the dishes and laundry and make sure the other two kids eat from time to time.  I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer and the television or reading.  There is only so much you can comfortably do while nursing.

Part of me says that there is a reason that they tell you not to lift anything heavier than your baby for six weeks.  It is completely reasonable that I sit around being unproductive most of the time.  But then again I am starting to feel guilty for not doing more and engaging more with my other two kids.  I feel like I just want to be left alone to sit and sleep with my new baby.

My middle daughter doesn’t seem to be suffering too much, but she has always been fairly self-entertaining.  My oldest daughter’s love language is definitely quality time, and I haven’t been giving her much of any lately.  I don’t really feel too guilty because her daddy took her bowling and to play mini-golf last week, and Granny has been taking her to tee-ball practice and hooking her up with candy afterwards.

I think everything is a little thrown off, too, because my husband is in the middle of a three-week night class.  He picked his summer schedule before we realized I was pregnant or how time-consuming tee ball would become.  So four nights of week I am stuck dealing with the older girls bedtime routines with a newborn in tow, whereas Daddy normally takes on the struggle that is putting our oldest girl to bed.  (“One more hand of cards, one more story, one more song, a little more back scratching, please!!”)  It also doesn’t help that the baby’s gassy grunting keeps waking the two-year-old up about 7:30 each morning; it makes for a long day.

I’m going to give myself until Monday morning to continue being lethargic.  Then I am going to have to set myself a time limit for being on the computer and start getting back into the routine of things a bit.  I may pick up a few Kumon workbooks this weekend to have something low-key to do with the kids.  Oldest DD hasn’t done any formal school work in several weeks, so I think she might welcome it.  Middle DD has started trying to draw letters some, so she might enjoy a little more direction.  Maybe it will keep her from writing on all the walls and windows.

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Who Is Jeremy Bentham??

May 30, 2008

At first I thought Jeremy Bentham was an anagram for whoever was supposed to be in the coffin. But once the episode was over I realized I was wrong about who I thought might be in the coffin and whether there was actually anyone in the coffin or not.

Then I got to wondering if there was a real Jeremy Bentham. So after whipping up to PBJ sandwiches (one with out the J for middle daughter) and two cups of milk, I went to Wikipedia in search of Jeremy Bentham. Make of it what you will, but please keep it to yourself (don’t post any comments that might spoil it for someone who hasn’t had a chance to see the episode yet).

I was intrigued by whom the real Jeremy Bentham was influenced. And kind of creeped out about what was done with his dead body, which may be a hint of what is to come next season. Personally, though, I find the relation to Jeremy Bentham just as enigmatic as everything else that has happened on “Lost” since the show started. My husband just thinks that they’re making it up as they go along, but I would like to believe that it really all does have some sort of planned meaning. Hopefully, sometime in the next two seasons we’ll get some more answers.

I’m Only Sleeping…(I wish!)

May 29, 2008

I have learned in recent years that I need sleep to function as a halfway nice person. So I place a high priority on sleep around here. In fact, one reason I am usually so skinny is that when given the choice between sleeping or abating my hunger I am much more likely to choose sleep. I even tell people that the main reason I choose to homeschool is so I don’t have to get up early in the morning. I have also learned a few interesting things about kids and sleep in recent years:

1. Every child is different.

My oldest is the sort that was and is running (physically, mentally, and verbally) all day long. She would never sleep unless I was laying there with her until she was about 2 1/2. It didn’t matter how deep asleep she appeared to be, if I tried to leave the bed she would be awake within five minutes. Otherwise she could sleep through anything and would sleep for twelve hours straight at night. So I spent many nights reading books by night light while she slept. My second daughter has generally needed less sleep and has been an early riser.

The other difference is that my oldest would never go to sleep voluntarily, even now. She has always tried to negotiate “one more” snack, book, game, story, or show to put off going to bed. My middle one, though, has often told me from the time she could talk when she was ready to go to bed. And her routine has always been fairly simple: a few books, lights out, back scratch, and snuggle. We’ll have to see how #3 handles bedtime when she stops sleeping 20 hours a day.

2. Putting kids to bed is like space travel; there is a small window to achieve the best results.

This window of opportunity is the line between the child being tired enough to fall asleep and being so over-tired that they become hysterical. This window can close faster than you think. It can help to have a consistent bedtime (or routine-starting time), but you never know what unexpected activities or naps a day may bring making your child more tired or less tired when bedtime rolls around.

In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, what you have to have to navigate through this window is “Constant vigilance!!” You must pay attention to the signals your child may be sending. My oldest DD would get even more hyper than usual when she started getting tired (which I didn’t think was possible). My middle DD gets destructive (or lately I should say more destructive); when she is getting tired she is more likely to start hitting, throwing things, and intentionally making messes. So depending on whether she has had a nap or not, I always gauge if her bad behavior is just a result of disobedience or a need to sleep and act accordingly.

3. Just when you think you have a child’s sleep needs figured out, they will change.

I had a big reminder of this when DD#2 turned two. We had been rolling along with fairly consistent nap and bed times. Then suddenly, she stopped taking a daily nap. I would spend about two hours fighting with her every afternoon to have her only go to sleep about ever third day. And up to that point, she would drink a cup of milk and then either fall asleep on me at night or tell me that she was ready to go to bed and then go straight to sleep. Well, she started fighting me at night, too. So that’s when we started a new routine that included reading a few books and that settled her down.

Now, here I am with DD#3. Like I said, she is still mainly sleeping all the time. She wakes up to eat every few hours, but then usually drifts back off when she has her fill. She has about three longer awake periods. I try to encourage one of those to be just before everyone else’s bedtime. We pretty much stay upstairs all night long; we just get up every three hours or so to change her diaper. I know that over the next few weeks and months her sleep needs and patterns will change, and I will have to adjust and try to adjust her accordingly. Which brings me to…

4. There is only so much that you can adjust a child’s sleep habits.

This kind of goes back to item #1. Every child needs a different amount of sleep depending on their age and their individual body. Some kids are heavy sleepers and some are more sensitive to light and sound. Some kids are natural night owls and some are natural early birds, just like adults. Sometimes you can try to tweak a child’s schedule by shortening, lengthening, or removing naps or putting them to bed earlier or later or waking them earlier or later. Sometimes this will work and sometimes you will just end up with an extra tired and cranky child and a stressed out self.

On a side note, I often wonder how many schooled children are misdiagnosed with ADD and mis-labeled as having behavior and learning problems due to lack of good sleep. After extra activities and tons of homework, they get to bed late and then have to turn around and get up so early. Besides crankiness, lack of sleep can lead to lack of concentration and focus as well extreme hyperactivity or sluggishness. There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture device. Just one more reason to homeschool in my opinion. My girls can sleep deprive themselves when they become parents, until then I’m going to do everything in my power to make them less aggravating.

Pet Peeve #5: Political Telemarketing

May 20, 2008

Ok, I really hate all telemarketing. I can’t decide if I hate automated telemarketing more than live telemarketing or not. Businesses think so little of me that they are content to pester me with a pre-recorded message, but at least there is less guilt and awkwardness associated with hanging up on a machine. I figure that anyone who has a telemarketing job must be really desperate, so I try to be really polite about disengaging myself. Occasionally, though, you get that telemarketer who takes his job way too seriously, and I feel like channeling Catherine Keener in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Anyways, the origin of this rant is that in the past 48 hours we have received five political telemarketing calls. Three were from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Two were automated and one was a live person. The live one actually said Clinton, Hillary on our caller ID, and my husband had great fun telling the person that he planned to vote for Obama. The other two calls were automated messages from Obama’s campaign, one recorded by Obama himself. It’s tempting to preserve my answering machine for posterity between Obama’s recording and having Hillary on my caller ID.

Here is the truly annoying part, though. All of these calls were for the Kentucky primary being held today. We haven’t lived in Kentucky for almost five years!!!! There are only like four area codes in Kentucky, so it should be obvious to the most lowly election volunteer that ours is not one of them. Yet we received five calls to vote in a primary we aren’t even eligible for. Do you think they need to update their information? I’ll put it this way. My mother received a political call yesterday for my grandmother…who died two months ago.

Update: Make that six; I got one more automated from Hillary.

Update:  Seven.  Recorded message from Michelle Obama.

Engorgio!

May 17, 2008

Here we are one week later, and so far I have managed to avoid getting engorged. Yay!! I would do a happy dance if I wasn’t so darn tired. Now there have been some very full moments, but nothing like the extreme pain and discomfort I suffered with my second daughter.

So what’s different this time around? I have a few theories as to why things are running more smoothly with DD#3.

1. Correct Allignment: With DD#2 I forgot that you have line the newborn baby’s body with her belly against yours (at least in cradle and cross-cradle positions) in order for her to latch on correctly. For if they do not latch on correctly then your nipples start to crack and hurt really bad, really quickly. This makes one hesitant to nurse regularly or even at all.

2. Positiong, Positioning, Positioning: Even though I lined up DD#3 correctly, I did start getting a really sore spot on my left side. So that’s when I started using the football/clutch position on that side. It’s not the most comfortable on my back and wrist, but it certainly helped keep that side from getting any worse so it could heal. Sometimes I go ahead and use football/clutch position on the right side to just to drain it differently. I’ve also been doing some side-by-side position, especially at night.

3. Making Nursing the #1 Priority: With my second daughter I think I tried to do too much too soon. I would get busy cleaning up something or trying to make my first born feel like she was still special and put off nursing. It is so important, though, to keep draining your breasts before they get over-full. Otherwise you find yourself soaking your breasts in a hot bath tub at two in the morning in hopes of expelling enough milk and lessening your swelling so that your baby can actually latch on. So this time around the house is just going to hell, and thankfully my older girls have each other to play with.

4. Drainage: Often at night I will go ahead and open my nursing bra on whichever side I am sleeping on, stick a cheap cloth diaper under that breast, and let gravity relieve some of the pressure. Sometimes I have also been letting one side leak into a cloth diaper while the baby nurses on the other. They both want to let down milk, anyway, so I may as well let them drain as much as possible. It keeps everything much more comfortable.

No one could ever accuse me of having milk production issues. I tend to produce a ton and it tends to have a very high fat content; I call it high-octane. My babies start out small (this latest one being my biggest at 6 lbs and 14 oz) and fatten up really fast. This new baby does not seem to be an exception. She’s probably put on close to a pound in her first week and is right on the cusp of moving up to size 1 disposable diapers.

I am just glad that I don’t look like Hagrid misused an engorgio charm on my chest. Although since my belly has gone down, I probably could pass for a Playboy model…if it wasn’t for all those pregnancy skin tags and that very unsexy baby that is constantly attached to one of my completely real breasts. Oh, and my skin isn’t so tanned that I look orange. And my teeth aren’t whitened to the point of glowing in the dark. Ok, so maybe I couldn’t pass for a Playboy model…maybe an early model Barbie doll instead.

Birth Story DD #3: She’s here!!!

May 12, 2008

Well, me and my beautiful new daughter are home from the hospital now. We’re both still adjusting to her new life on the outside. I thought I would try to go ahead and get something up, though, to refer friends and family who want to know all the gory details of her arrival. It’s still all so new, though, and we are both so tired I may have to do a follow up post for all the things I forget to say.

Wednesday I went to my regularly scheduled appointment with my midwife. She wanted to go ahead and examine me since I was at 39 weeks. I was only 1 centimeter dilated, 50 % effaced, and the baby wasn’t as low as I thought. My midwife asked if I wanted her to separate the membranes to possibly trigger labor soon, and I agreed. For about 24 hours I had some heavy spotting but I only had about one hour of irregular contractions early in the morning.

Friday morning at about 3:30 in the morning I started feeling contractions again. They were timing about eight minutes apart with a one minute duration. That seemed like such a short interval that I didn’t think it meant much, but I was also having a little more heavy spotting. After an hour and a half of the contractions coming regularly every eight minutes, I went ahead and woke my husband up to go to the hospital. While he got in the shower, I went to the other room to call my mother-in-law and my midwife.

It took us a little longer than we expected to get to the hospital due to early morning traffic; we also stopped by McDonald’s and I tried to nibble on a McGriddle but I didn’t have much appetite. At the hospital my midwife assured me that I would be staying because I had dilated to six centimeters. I was admitted to a labor/delivery room, and my first dose of penicillin was run through my IV for Group B Strep.

For the next two hours I continued with contractions every 8-minutes, and I didn’t dilate at all. I was a little discouraged, but I turned down my midwife’s offer to break my water bag. While I didn’t want an excessively long labor, I didn’t mind giving things more time. Then she suggested I try walking around the room. That made me feel a little dizzy, though. I decided to try doing some exercises on the bed instead: tailor sitting, butterflies, foot rotations, and cat/cow yoga pose. I got a little overwhelmed with exhaustion, though. At that point, my midwife suggested that maybe I should try to rest for a bit, so I closed my eyes and dozed between contractions for about an hour. After my little nap, my contractions were coming a little closer together. I started trying to relax my pelvis and think positive thoughts about my body opening up. When I was checked again, I had dilated up to eight centimeters.

I had three goals for this labor: (1) get to the hospital in time for at least one dose of anti-biotic, (2) make it through transition without biting a pillow and screaming, and (3) not spend hours having unproductive pushing due to a panic attack during transition. The first goal was easily accomplished; I got both recommended doses of anti-biotic in my system. In order to accomplish the second goal I thought a lot about the mind-body connection as demonstrated in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. During contractions I would close my eyes and repeat various mantras to myself silently such as “I can do this. My body was made to do this. I have done this before. This is my body opening up.” Sometimes I would sing songs in my head, pop and religious. Sometimes I focused on prayers. And when I was saying a mantra I would force myself to smile; even though it probably looked like a horribly forced smile I could feel my body relax into the contraction and it made me feel powerful.

As the contractions increased in intensity I started saying things out loud. By the time I was in transition, I was barking my mantras loudly, giving myself and those contractions a stern talking to. I knew that if I let fear of pain in my mind then I would get preoccupied with it and then I really would feel more pain. I also forced my hands and body to unclench even though my body wanted to tighten up in response to intense contractions; I knew it would be counter-productive to tighten up and possibly slow down my labor.

Once I was up to nine centimeters I consented to have my water bag broken. I felt that I had accomplished goal #2, and I knew that the next step of intensity from where I was at would be pushing contractions. I couldn’t have broken my bag knowing that I still had a long way to go. So about a half hour after my bag was broken things started getting really intense. I moved onto my hands and knees, and when I felt the urge to push I buried my face in the mattress and pushed with all my might. My husband told me later that I was pushing something out, but it certainly wasn’t the baby. It was at that point that he understood a comment the midwife had said about hands/knees being the messiest pushing position.

After five or six contractions on my hands and knees with some really protective pushing, my midwife and I agreed that if I flipped on my back the baby would probably be out really fast. As soon as I flipped over, I yelled for help getting my legs up and I pushed with all my might. By the end, I am ashamed to say that I was really screaming, but it was at the very end when the baby was actually coming through. I was a little embarrassed, but I really hoped that no other woman in labor had heard me. I would hate to think I had scared anyone and possibly made their labor more difficult. But goal #3 had been accomplished.

My new baby girl was plopped onto my abdomen and they put a warm blanket over her. She was crying, but as soon as I started talking to her and patting her she settled down quickly. She seemed really content, and I think we both would have been content to stay there forever like that. My husband cut the cord, but then my placenta was taking awhile to come out. The cord left to the placenta had started to sheer away, so the midwife couldn’t use it to guide the placenta out. They went ahead and took the baby to wipe her down so the midwife and I could focus on the placenta, and then she gave me one stitch.

My third dear daughter was born Friday May 9th and 2:43 PM. She weighed 6 lbs. and 14 oz (my biggest baby) and measured 19 inches long. She has a head of beautifully even dark brown hair, just like I had dreamed that she would. She totally has my feet just like her big sisters. And after reviewing the first pictures of the other two, this new baby greatly resembles her oldest sister at birth. She nursed very well immediately and promptly fell to sleep.

Once I was settled in my post-partum room, my husband went home to get the girls, Granny, and my parents who had just arrived from Kentucky. I could hear my girls coming down the hall (the older one’s voice only has one loud volume). My oldest daughter immediately pounced upon her new baby sister wanting to hold her and kiss her and poke her and rub her non-stop. The two-year-old wanted to tickle her chin and say “gutchy-gutchy”, then she pronounced that the baby was cute. Then she was ready to go home. They stayed for about an intense hour in which the oldest was bouncing off the walls and led everyone in singing “Happy Birthday” to her new baby sister.

The baby and I got along well. She started passing meconium and continued to do so pretty non-stop. Once they finally removed my IV it felt good to get up and walk around. The next morning my mother-in-law came to stay with me at the hospital while the rest of the family went to my oldest daughter’s t-ball game. I got a call when the game was almost over that my oldest daughter had made the first homerun for her team; she was rewarded by her coach with a game ball. Then they all came to see us again for another short but intense visit.

On Sunday morning my husband came early. Once the baby and I were checked out and the birth certificate information was turned in, we just had to wait for our picture appointment. They now do studio-style baby pictures in the hospital (can we say “new ways to fleece you for money”), but we managed to limit ourself to six sheets of two poses out of twenty-two. Then we packed up our stuff and got out of there as fast as we could.

So here we are adjusting to life at home. The girls are still pretty wound up over their baby sister; they want to love her to death. My parents are staying in town for a few days to help with the adjustment. I’m going to get this post up immediately, so please excuse any typos and mistakes. Maybe later today I can get hubby to help me add a picture of our new bundle to this post.

CFC Sections VI and VII

May 6, 2008

Section VI is entitled God Made the People: “Adam and Eve were the first man and woman. Adam and Eve were our first parents. God made Adam and Eve good and free from sin. They were made holy and pleasing to God. God made Adam and Eve free from sickness and death. They had a right to heaven. God put Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden called Paradise. They were very happy in this beautiful garden. God told Adam and Eve not to eat a certain fruit that grew in Paradise.”

“God was good to Adam and Eve. God is good to us. I will always be good. O God, help me love You more and more.”

So here we have the basic back story of Adam and Eve. There’s no discussion about this being a creation “myth” or whether man was made before woman as in the “Second Creation Story” (Gen 2) or whether male and female were created at the same time as in the first chapter of Genesis. It’s kept as simple as simple can be.

Once we get to Section VII things get a little more complicated. Adam and Eve Sinned. “The devil told Eve to eat the fruit. Eve listened to the devil and ate the fruit. Eve gave the fruit to Adam and he ate it. Eating this fruit was the first sin in the world. Adam and Eve were not holy and pleasing to God after their sin. Adam and Eve were punished for their sin in this way: 1. They were driven out of paradise. 2. They had to suffer and die. 3. Heaven was closed against them. We have the stain of Adam’s sin when we are born. The stain of this sin is called Original Sin.”

Well, this story has been the bane of women’s existence for ever. Everything is all our fault because Eve ate the fruit first, and then she used her feminine wiles to trick Adam into eating it, too. My mother-in-law once made a comment to the effect of, “Maybe if Adam hadn’t been such a wimp things wouldn’t have been so bad.” I seem to remember Scott Hahn making a point similar to this in one of his books, though I can’t remember which one off hand. Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he ate the fruit; he was far from innocent. I notice that the CFC skips over the extra punishment that was only handed out to Eve and her daughters: pain in childbirth. (Of course, studies have shown that pain in childbirth can vary greatly among women depending on physical complications and the mental state of the mother as influenced by cultural expectations and personal issues.)

We all suffer now because Adam and Eve were kicked out of Paradise, but I don’t remember every thinking much about the gates of heaven being closed to Adam and Eve. This begs the question of what happened to Adam and Eve after they died. The assumption would be that they went to hell based on what was read in previous sections of the Catechism for First Communicants.

And then we get into the concept of Original Sin. My freshman Religion teacher Mr. Stairs made an interesting analogy about Original Sin, that many 14-year-old students today would probably not understand because of its context. Mr. Stairs describes pre-Fall humans as perfect vinyl records. During the Fall the records were left out in the sun and heat for too long and became warped. Now all copies of those original records are slightly warped and don’t play exactly right. Today a freshman in high school would probably wonder, “What’s a vinyl record?”

So basically I was taught that we are born warped and imperfect and as a result our human nature has a propensity towards sin. Sin is any act of selfishness, but especially those that go against God’s specific laws. This is probably the most real and important thing I ever learned in Catholic school. Unfortunately, we were prevented from learning more great lessons like this from Mr. Stairs because he was forced to interrupt our year of studying the Old Testament to spend eight weeks on “Affective Skills” to teach us how to have self-esteem. (Make your vomit sounds now.)

“Sin offends God and causes all our suffering. O my God, I hate sin because it offends You.” So much of our suffering can be traced back to sin, ours and those of the people around us. I wonder how much people really stop to think about how it offends God. It seems like so many people only feel sorry for something when it effects their ability to get something else that they want.