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4 years

Four years ago today, on what had to have been the hottest June day on record, I married the most wonderful man in the world. As couples do, we took the top tier of our wedding cake home to put in the freezer and eat on our first anniversary.

Three years ago today C and I celebrated our first anniversary by staring blearily at each other across the table, eating something that my mom had cooked for us. We were new parents; shellshocked and sleep-deprived. Monkey Boy was five days old, and I had been home from the hospital for two. C brought me a pretty candle. We forgot about the wedding cake.

Two years ago today we left Monkey Boy with C’s parents for the evening and had dinner out. One of the few dates we’d managed in the previous year. The wedding cake languished in the freezer.

One year ago today C made arrangements for Monkey Boy to stay with some friends and took me away overnight. We went to Niagara Falls, did touristy things, walked around Niagara-on-the-Lake (and tried on hats!), ate a romantic dinner, and just generally had a great time. The wedding cake stayed at home.

Today we are once again celebrating our anniversary with a brand-new baby. We are no longer new parents, and we are much less sleep-deprived. C’s parents, who are visiting for a couple of weeks, are treating us to Chinese food for dinner. C bought a card, I did not (but I gave him a baby so we’re even). And we’ve been eating Monkey Boy’s birthday cake all week, so I feel guilty even thinking about the wedding cake.

How long do those things last, anyway?

Happy anniversary to my wonderful C: the man who knew all the right things to say during labour, and who kept me going when I was ready to give up by whispering the sweetest words in the world.

“They’ve turned on the baby warmer, honey. They don’t do that unless there’s going to be a baby!”

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I’m in the process of writing up the birth story. It was a successful VBAC, but not exactly idyllic (still so glad I did it, though). Hopefully I’ll get that done in the next day or so. In the meantime, some notes from the first five days.

On my baby girl (possibly to be nicknamed Princess Pout, ’cause wow can she work that lip!):
- I not sure why, since neither C nor I were big babies, but I seem to grow them large. Monkey Boy was 9 lbs 4.5oz, 22 inches long, and a 37cm head circumference. His sister tried to show him up, but couldn’t quite do it: 8lbs 13.5 oz, 21.5 inches long, and a 36cm head circumference. That one centimetre may have made all the difference this time.
- A very laid back baby, until you piss her off. Then look out!
- Absolutely beautiful, and already has everybody wrapped around her little finger.

On recovering:
- Ow. I will say no more than that.

On breastfeeding:
- Oh my god, it is so much easier this time around. Seriously, like night and day. This is day five and my little girl has already regained her birth weight. With Monkey Boy, by day five C was finger feeding while I pumped, and we were freaking out over his weight loss and jaundice. And then he put a crater in my right nipple. Thank goodness it eventually got better.

On sleeping:
- We do not talk about this because we might jinx it.

On having two:
I know Monkey Boy will get jealous. I know there will be moments where two seem like ten. I know I will occasionally contemplate fleeing cross-country. But it is fabulous and I love to watch Monkey Boy with his baby sister. He adores her and she is going to adore him. The first time he held her he said, “oh, look at her little ears!” and I melted into a puddle.

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And I reappear!

Just a quick update to say:

It’s a girl! Born Friday, June 5th at 9:15pm. Successful VBAC! Have been in the hospital for the last couple of days due to some pretty severe tearing, but we’re home now and both doing well. Monkey Boy is ecstatic to have a little sister. Will post in more detail soon (and apologies to those I left hanging with my last Twitter post!)

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I’m 39 weeks 5 days today. Some positive signs, but no baby yet. I swear, it’s waiting until tomorrow (Monkey Boy’s birthday) to come, just to be difficult!

When I was pregnant with Monkey Boy I had total trust in my body. After all, giving birth is what it was designed to do. I decided on midwives over an OB, and planned a home waterbirth.

And for awhile, things went swimmingly. Okay, I had horrible back labour, but it took me less than nine hours to dilate to 8cms; pretty impressive for a first (and posterior) labour. I remember when my water broke, and the moment when I pushed my son out of my uterus. All it would have taken was another couple of pushes and I would have been holding my son in my arms.

This, of course, is where it all went wrong. I tried for two hours to push him under my pubic bone. We tried every possible position: in the tub, out of the tub, squatting, kneeling, lying on my side. The whole time he was mere inches away, half in and half out of my uterus. Eventually we had to throw in the towel. I went by ambulance to the hospital (unfortunately, the one where the midwives don’t have privileges), and had an epidural while we waited to see if he would turn. Several hours later, he was still stuck.

The OB was really nice and laid out our options: we could attempt a vaginal using forceps or vacuum, or we could go straight to a C-section. He told us the risks involved with the forceps or vacuum, then looked us in the eye and said, “honestly, I think you’re still going to end up with a Cesarean.”

C and I decided that the risks weren’t worth it, and that neither the baby or I should go through any more stress. We opted to go straight to the C-section.

I still don’t regret that decision. Monkey Boy had a 37cm (14.6 inch) head. He was stuck tight and nothing we could have done (short of possibly breaking my pelvis) would have got him under that pubic bone. One of my more vivid memories from the C-section is (despite the epidural) actually feeling my hips come off the table when they tugged him out of me.

I don’t feel violated by my C-section. I’d make the same decision again in a heartbeat. I often joke that I got the FULL birth experience; both sides of it (that, or I tell people that Monkey Boy’s horns are the reason he got stuck…he is a 6/6/6 baby, after all).

But.

I have lost some faith in my body. I believed it could birth a baby, and then…it didn’t. As the days pass I often find myself struggling to stay optimistic. We’re planning a VBAC with midwives, though we’ll be in the hospital this time (more because I don’t want to risk winding up at the hospital where they don’t have privileges again, than any fear of being at home), and I sometimes have a hard time believing it’s going to go any other way other than a C-section again. And then I worry that my pessimism is going to be what screws it up for me, because I need to be able to trust my body.

On the other hand.

I’m being much more proactive with this pregnancy. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor regularly and we’ve been fighting hard to make sure baby doesn’t turn posterior. She’s also been working on keeping my pelvis loose, so that even if I have another kid with a huge freakin’ head, I will hopefully have enough room to get it through.

Ultimately, what matters to me is having my baby, and if that means another C-section, then so be it. I’m resigned to that. And yet….

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Well, it’s that time again. Time to sum up the last two months in which I haven’t blogged.

So how are things going here? Chaotic is putting it mildly. Stressful is another good way of putting it. I’m almost 36 weeks pregnant, we’re renovating our basement (which has to be finished by the time C’s parents arrive at the beginning of June), we’re trying to get Monkey Boy moved into his new room, the basement renovations mean C is working in the living room (which means we’re living on top of each other), my grandmother is in palliative care, and Monkey Boy, while still adorable, is definitely proving the existence of the Terrible Two’s (or possibly the Trying Three’s since his birthday is a month from today).

Is it any wonder I’m an emotional basket case lately?

I’ve been wondering if the ADHD medication has actually been doing any good, since I still don’t feel like I’m really getting things accomplished. The house is still a disaster, my motivation is really up and down, and I get EXTREMELY irritable, both with C and Monkey Boy. So really, I haven’t felt like anything has changed.

Except.

People have pointed out all of the crap that I’m dealing with at the moment. I mean, the pregnancy itself would explain my mood swings and lack of motivation. Now add all the rest. It’s a lot for anyone to cope with, particularly while pregnant. The point is, though, I’m coping with it.

Two and a half months ago, I would have been practically catatonic over all this stuff. Today, I’m not. I had a huge emotional breakdown yesterday, which C said was a lot like the breakdowns I had pre-meds. The difference was, though, I went more than two months without one, where before I was having one every couple of days.

So there is progress. It’s just that the progress that’s happening isn’t the progress I want to see. But no wonder. It’s all the medication can do to keep me sane at this point; there’s just no room for anything else. Doesn’t mean I won’t try for other progress, but I need to realise that it’s okay if I don’t get there yet.

Quick baby update: 35wks 4days today. Baby is head down and has been staying that way. Possibly posterior (NOOOO!!!) but it moves around so much that it’s hard to tell, and probably changes from day to day. I’m measuring large, but there have been no dramatic jumps in size like there were with Monkey Boy. I’m carrying all in front, so that probably makes a difference.

Monkey Boy still has a jaguar in his belly, and is getting very excited about being a big brother.

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There are many reasons to love midwives: the length of the appointments, the emphasis on client choices, and the after care, just to name a few.

But the number one reason I love midwives is because when we were at our appointment on Friday* and Monkey Boy asked, just before we left, if she could “check Jaguar“, our lovely midwife didn’t even blink. She just pulled out the Doppler, and ran it over his belly and then his heart so he could “hear” Jaguar. Monkey Boy left that office a very happy little boy.

*Baby is looking great, spot on for growth, though rather annoyingly head up at the moment. But that is apparently nothing to worry about unless we get to 32 weeks and it still hasn’t turned. Then we have to start talking about turning it.

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Just like mommy

So Monkey Boy is pregnant.

With a jaguar.

Specifically, the jaguar from Go Diego Go, which we have never actually seen so I’m uncertain on the correct name.

It all started when we went to my aunt’s for dinner last week. She had bought Monkey Boy a Diego puzzle, which came with some temporary tattoos, and she put the jaguar one on his belly. The next morning we were informed that Jaguar was now IN his belly, just like the baby is in mommy’s.

It’s adorable and awesome, with a slight hint of the surreal thrown in. Jaguar sleeps, just like the baby. Jaguar even kicks like the baby (we put our hand to Monkey Boy’s belly, and he sort of ripples his stomach – completely answering my question about whether he’s been able to feel the baby’s kicks when he touches my belly).

We even say hi to Jaguar, and ‘I love you, Jaguar’, whereupon Monkey Boy answers, “Awwww. Jaguar loves you too.” Which is, of course, what we say everytime he says “I love you baby”.

I really think that if this continues for the next three months (…holy crap, I’m in the third trimester!) a stuffed Jaguar is going to come home with the baby.

I can’t wait until he tries to breastfeed it.

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Two steps back

It’s amazing how quickly a feeling of accomplishment can evaporate.

Last night I had my first emotional meltdown in almost four weeks. It wasn’t as bad as some of my previous ones – there were no tears involved at least – but I still wound up shouting at C for about half an hour because I couldn’t make dinner.

Sigh.

It was supposed to be homemade pizza, but we ran out of flour and had to buy dough, then I found myself in a miserable mood and didn’t want to make sauce, but C had already come back from the bakery with pre-made dough, so he couldn’t buy any, and really what’s the point of homemade pizza anyway if you’re using storebought dough AND storebought sauce, and besides at that point I didn’t want to make it anymore, anyway.

So Monkey Boy and I ate eggs and sausage for dinner. Great mom, aren’t I? C ate a banana, then had peanut butter toast when he got back from Kung Fu.

And so now I’m back to thinking, why the hell can’t I do this?? I mean, I know it’s partly due to the way my brain functions, but shouldn’t fixing our way of eating be my number one priority? Who cares if I managed to get my office emptied or my filing cabinet cleared out, when we’re still eating like crap. And if I can get the other stuff in order, why can’t I do this? I’ve been feeling so proud of myself for accomplishing things, but what do they really count for? My family’s health ought to be my priority and I can’t seem to manage that.

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Baby steps

It’s hard not to try and fix everything in my life all at once. I know I’ve said that a bunch of times already, but it’s one of my biggest stumbling blocks, so it’s a statement I need to repeat a lot.

Three and a half weeks after I started medication my house is still pretty messy, I’m still not feeding my family to my own standards, and two baskets of laundry have been sitting unfolded since Friday.

But there are signs of progress if you know where to look.

Dishes are being done on a much more regular basis; Monkey Boy’s toys are being picked up (with his help) at night; the bed is getting made more often; items left lying around are actually being picked up and put away; my office, which is going to become Monkey Boy’s bedroom, is almost completely cleaned out, and I’ve actually been able to throw things away.

The last one is huge for me, because, as I mentioned in my previous post, I am a long-time packrat. I’m notorious for saving things for sentimental reasons, or because I “might need it one day”, or because there’s just so much crap I can’t deal with it.

The other day though, I sat down with C and we cleared out huge stacks of paper from my filing cabinet. I had bank statements and bills going back years, information from when we were planning our wedding, pay stubs from a company I worked at three jobs ago, etc, etc.

Some of that stuff I legitimately didn’t know whether I could throw it out or not. That was where C was able to help me. He assured me that I really didn’t need all the paperwork from student loans that were paid off two years ago. We organized the things we needed to keep, and came up with a system for dealing with future bills and statements so we won’t have such a major build-up again. Of course, I still need to remember to follow that system, but that will come.

I was also able to stop myself from rushing impulsively into a new project that would probably not get finished. While in the shower on Sunday morning, I remembered that I had ask C to pick up some herbs for me the next time he was in the city, which was the next day. I have this recipe for an herbal ointment that I’ve been planning to make for years, and I decided a week ago that I would finally make it.

So there I was, thinking of how much fun it would be, and how I needed to find some jars to keep it in, and that I needed to paint them so that light wouldn’t get at it and oxidize the herbs, and that I needed to buy some beeswax for it, and…and then I stopped myself. I was actually able to take a step back and realise that there were a bunch of steps to complete first, and that if C bought the herbs before the other things were done, they’d just sit in the cupboard and lose their potency like the last time I tried to make this.

And THEN I realised that I don’t even have time to make this right now. Getting Monkey Boy’s new room ready is my top priority, followed by cleaning out the spare room (which is where the stuff from my office is ending up at the moment), and getting the baby’s room ready again (although I have more time there since it will probably be with us for the first few months, at least). So making a time-consuming herbal ointment shouldn’t even be on my radar at the moment, at least until the first two things are finished.

The point is, I REALISED all of this. I didn’t just let myself go racing ahead into a new project, and then, when it didn’t get finished, get depressed because it was just “one more thing that I couldn’t do”.

I still want to make the herbal ointment, and when I have time, I will. And I now have a plan to follow, which will probably give me a much better chance of succeeding at this.

It’s funny. Before, I never would have considered cleaning out a filing cabinet and NOT making an ointment as things to be proud of. Now though, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

I’ll get there. Baby steps.

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It’s amazing how much of a difference being diagnosed with ADHD has made to my life. It’s only been three weeks, and yet I feel as if a whole new world has opened up to me. Just being able to understand why I do (or don’t do) things is a big help. I mentioned in the big monster post that many things I never understood have been clicking into place. Some are small, some are big; some have had a direct impact on my quality of life, some have not; but they are all seem to be related in some way to the ADHD.

A few of the big things (I used this excellent page as a resource):

  • Procrastination
  • An inability to prioritise tasks
  • Very disorganised and messy
  • Constantly starting projects but rarely, if ever, finishing them
  • Low tolerance for frustration and stress
  • Volatile temper and moods
  • Constant worry
  • Poor memory
  • Inability to delay gratification

These are the things that I have been trying to fix for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years, and that have had me wondering “what’s wrong with me?”

But then there are the smaller things, the ones I thought were just quirks or personality traits. These have been giving me the majority of the “aha” moments over the past three weeks. Some are from the same list as the big ones, others come from different resources I’ve been reading.

  • “Zoning out” when people are talking. (Not so bad if I’m engaged in the conversation, but if I’m listening to a lecturer, or people talk at me, my brain usually takes a vacation.)
  • Randomly skipping from topic to topic in conversation. (Ask anyone who’s ever carried on a conversation with me…I can get so far off topic I’ll forget what the original point was.)
  • Reading words over and over in order to grasp their meaning. (I didn’t even realise this wasn’t something everyone did. I also have a hard time following long paragraphs; my eyes usually drift down towards the bottom and I have to go back, or I skim the paragraph. I compensate by reading it several times, or “hearing” the words in my head.)
  • Problems with spatial awareness. (This was a huge “aha” for me. Suddenly the permanent bruises on my thighs from bumping the bed frame (in broad daylight) make sense! Also, the way I can go around corners or through doors and completely misjudge the distance from the wall/frame.)
  • Being a pack rat. (I had only seen a couple of vague mentions about this being a trait of ADHD, and then my mom recommended a book which devotes an entire chapter to it. I also realised I have been having a much easier time getting rid of unnecessary things since I’ve been on the meds. Turns out I didn’t really need that cute little Christmas book I wrote back in kindergarten.)

I suppose it is possible that I’m reading too much into all these things. I could legitimately be a klutz, for instance. But I have a hard time believing that when it all fits together so nicely. And when the the medication seems to help it, as with the pack-rat-ism, that seems to confirm that it’s not an unrelated thing.

Oh, it’s so nice to be figuring things out!

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