Friday, October 29, 2010

30 Week Baby Update

The only specific number I remember from yesterday's trip to the midwife is 1 - that's the number of pounds I gained, bringing my total up to 11.  Woo hoo!

My blood pressure was great, baby's heart rate was great, I'm measuring right where I should be.  Everything looks super.

We're going to re-run the liver panel and the bile salts test in 2 weeks.  I came down with ICP with Claire at 32 weeks.  You can imagine how much the anxiety level is increasing as we get closer to that milestone.  I'm working on it.

This visit was fun.  Mary Grace has been worrying about the baby and me, so I e-mailed my midwife and said, "Can I bring her to meet you?" and my awesome midwife said, "Let's reschedule your appointment for 1 pm so that I have more time to visit with her."  Wow!  So, we showed MG the little models of babies at various stages, and Sharon explained how the baby is stuck inside and isn't going to just "fall out" (in spite of the jokes Mommy makes), and we listened to the baby's heartbeat...  She was so little when I was pregnant with Claire that she didn't really "get it."  Claire's 3-1/2 now and she doesn't even really "get it," and MG was only 19 months old when Claire was born.  It's neat to be able to include her this time, and to see her excitement.  She can hardly wait to be a "double big sister."

Eight more weeks.  Wow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The girls had their big sister class today.  They now know everything about being a big sister, so we're good to go.  Ha ha!

This little boy came into the class talking like a 40 year old in a 4 year old's body, and he said something about chemo.  When his mom came in behind him, I said, "I hope I've misunderstood, but did your little boy just say he has chemo every day?"  "Yes," she replied, "He has leukemia."

Suddenly the sniffles and coughs we've been dealing with seemed very very small and manageable. 

Charlie's in the second of a three-year treatment, though, and his prognosis is very good. 

And he's very excited to be a big brother.

Is somebody cutting onions in here?  Sheesh...  *sniff*

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Explain this 3-Year-Old Behavior

11:15 am - Mommy, I want some soup.
(You can have some for lunch in a little bit.)
11:16 am - I want soup.
11:18 am - Mommy, I want some soup right NOW.
11:20 am - (crying) Please can I have soup.
11:21 am - (screaming) AAAAAAAAAHHHH!  WANT SOUP!!!
11:59 am - (fainting with hunger and frustration, whispers) sssssoooooouuupppp....
12:00 pm - Here's your soup, Claire.

Amount of soup eaten?  One bite.  Seriously.

And she did the same thing with cookies (COOKIES!) this afternoon.

What.  The.  Hell?  Seriously!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Bad Thing?

Claire had a cough this morning and no appetite.  We took her temperature as a precaution, but it was normal, so we took her to preschool.  I mentioned to one of her teachers that she had a cough, but no fever.  She said it was going around, and I agreed.  After all, you can't keep them home for every little sniffle.

Two and a half hours later I'm standing in front of the school, finishing up a call with my mom, when another mom comes out of the school, "Your little girl has a fever," she says.  I hang up with my mom and open the school door to find Claire in the arms of the school's director, sobbing.  Claire was sobbing, that is.  The director was fine.  "We would've called you, but we just took her temp 10 minutes ago, and we knew you were on your way.  It's 102," she said, "She says her tummy hurts."

I felt like the worst mom!  They dismissed Mary Grace from her class and I hustled everyone home.  Claire spit up, and I'm still not sure if it was vomit or just snot.  She had this wet, rattling cough.  She cried a lot until I got some Tylenol into her.  Once the fever came down she perked up quite a bit.  She even ate some noodles and drank some tea.

So I called the doctor's office to get the dose for Children's Dimetapp (because EVERYTHING says "under 6 years - do not use!" now, which is SO ANNOYING).  The doctor's office recommended that I use Children's Robitussin instead.  I had adult Robitussin DM, but not Children's Robitussin without letters, so I sent BJ to the store (hooray for Daddy's office being 10 minutes from home!).  Turns out that both are 100 mg per teaspoon of Guaifensin.  *sigh*  The DM means it also has some other unspellable stuff in it - dextromethospanaquawarble...  maybe that's what's bad for little kids.

The nurse told me to only give her 1/4 - 1/2 tsp, and to beware - it would knock her out.

"You say that like it's a bad thing," I said. 

I'm going to start writing my speech for Mother of the Year now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kid Drama

Claire comes in crying.  "Cammie won't let me be a teenager!" she says.

I clean her up, take her back to our backyard and say to the big kids, "Guess what.  Claire gets to be a teenager now, ok?"

"Ok," say the kids.  And that was that.

"You really want to get in the middle of that?" asks B.J. when I come in.

"They always make her be the baby, because she's little, and she hates it," I reply.

Do you get involved in your kids' spats with the neighborhood kids?  It seems like we're having more friction on our street lately than we had at the beginning of the summer.  I think everyone was so relieved to be outside after the winter that they all played in peace and harmony in the beginning.  But now, after months and months of togetherness, tempers are starting to flare and patience is wearing thin.

I think we need a good snowstorm.

I know some of the drama stems from my kids misunderstanding - like the day that MG got mad that Maddie's mom was watching Cammie and not her.  "It's not fair!" she sobbed, even though I was home at the time and she didn't need to be watched...   She just wants to hang with the big dogs, even when it doesn't quite make sense.  So I told her, "Ok, Miss Chelsea's watching you.  Bettter?"  She beamed, and ran back out to play.

I know sometimes the big girls on the block don't want to play with the little kids, and I'm trying to get my little kids to stop expecting the big kids to play with them all the time.  "Play with the girls who are your own age, and let the big girls be big girls," I tell them, knowing that the big girls will want to play with the littler kids tomorrow.

It doesn't help that Mary Grace can be bossy.  "I gave Maddie two choices..." she'll tell me.  "Well, no wonder she didn't want to play with you anymore, honey.  You're not her mom, you don't get to give her choices!"  She's bossy with Claire, too.  "When you're the Mommy you can tell other people what to do," I tell her at least 5 times a day, "But right now you're a kid and you only need to worry about your own choices."

I did the exact same stuff when I was a kid, and suffered socially for it.  It may just be part of being an oldest sister.  She'll learn.  I did.  I haven't given any of my friends a time out in quite a while.  But the learning is hard.  And sometimes I don't know if I'm navigating them through it very well.  Those precocious behaviors that we've been telling her are "so cute" for the past five years aren't cute to her peers - they're obnoxious.  And learning that hurts.

So, yeah, I get involved, even though I know that the kid we picked on most when we were kids was the one whose mom got the most annoyed with us (sorry, Kevin and Debbie - they're both Facebook friends now, so I'm hoping they both have forgiven me at this point). 

Claire just came back in, "Nathan's mad at me too..." and something about him not letting her grab his swing.  "Why don't you just stay inside?" I ask her.  But 10 seconds later she's on her way back outside.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Relaxing Into Happiness

I made pancakes (both blueberry and chocolate chip!) for B.J. and the kids this morning, and there was this moment when I looked at the three of them and I felt Gozer wiggling, and I realized that everything really important was right at that table.  For just a moment I was able to stop worrying about everything and just rest in the knowledge that my little family was safe and happy, together at the table, enjoying pancakes and planning the day together. 

That was a nice way to start the weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jedi Mind Tricks with Dr. Dave

Yes, of course I'm in therapy.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I've done the whole "Oh, I'm so ashamed of my PAMD/PPD" thing before, and it was bad for everyone - my husband, my kids, my extended family, my friends... Not to mention that it was bad for me.  This time I'm charging into it head first, with my face painted blue and a sword aloft, screaming, "FREEDOM!" like some pregnant Mel Gibson...

Baby on Board?
I'll give you a second to let that mental image sink in.

The thing I love about Dr. Dave is that we don't spend a lot of time with the whole "tell me about your childhood" shtick.  Yes, I've told him enough about my background that he has a good sense of who I am and where I come from.  But he doesn't bother with much of it.  His approach to psychology is a lot more practical (not to mention faster!) and, in my experience, it really works.

If you're going through anxiety or depression, whether it's associated with pregnancy or not, I can't recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy enough.  Basically, the premise is that your thoughts create your emotions - not the other way around.  A lot of people think that they feel sad, and that's why they're having sad thoughts.  In truth, though, you have the sad thoughts first, and those sad thoughts make you feel sadness. 

Think about it.  You could see a perfectly neutral thing - how about a suitcase?  So you see this suitcase, and it reminds you of the trip you just took to your favorite place, and you have all these happy thoughts of all the fun you had, and consequently you start to feel happy.  Meanwhile, I see the suitcase, and I think about the business trip BJ has coming up, and how lonely I'm going to be, and how much work it's going to be to take care of the kids by myself, and then I start worrying about going into labor while he's gone, or his plane crashing, and suddenly I'm sad and anxious.  The suitcase was neutral in both cases - it was the thoughts that were happy or sad.  Those thoughts caused the emotions we experienced.

The idea of CBT is that you can get in better thought habits - you can train yourself to neutralize the negative thoughts that we all have, and over time they become less and less powerful.  It actually re-wires the neural pathways in the brain, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. 

So how am I re-wiring my brain these days?  Well, last week we decided that whenever I have an anxious thought (and sometimes they're not even fully-formed thoughts, sometimes it's just an "Oh shit!" feeling that hits me out of the blue, especially in the middle of the night, and I have to really think about what thought triggered it - thoughts are sneaky!), I deliberately say to myself, "Reducing my anxiety level is good for the baby, it's good for the labor and delivery, and it will improve my ability to make decisions."  (I actually "hear" it in Dr. Dave's voice, which I find funny.)  That phrase addresses some of the specific concerns that underlie what's been causing my anxiety - that I'll hurt the baby by freaking out all the time, that something bad will happen during labor, and that I won't make good decisions about the delivery (for example, whether or not to induce).  I've been thinking that thought 4 - 6 times a day, sometimes more, and it's really helping.  I'd say that alone reduced my anxiety from an 8 (on a scale of one to ten) to a 6 or 6-1/2. 

I've also been doing some deep breathing.  I have a tendency (especially as I get physically bigger) to breathe very shallowly.  I'm getting a lot better about breathing into my abdomen, which is probably an awful lot better for the baby.  It's also helping me to relax.

Another trick Dr. Dave taught me today was the Fade Technique.  Let's say that BJ is on a business trip.  Before, because I'm a nutjob, I would have a lot of anxiety about his flight.  I would picture, like a horror movie, all the terrible things that could happen in excruciating detail.  Then I'd get on and I'd hold his plane in the air through the sheer force of my own will, only relaxing (a little) when he landed safely (after all, he still has to fly home).  Well, from now on when I have those thoughts, I'm going to deliberately picture BJ on the plane, happy and safe, reading and drinking a Coke, maybe taking a nap, then landing safely, getting his luggage, and arriving at his hotel.  For every one time I go all horror movie in my head, I'm going to imagine the happy outcome twice, in detail.  Research shows that over time the horror movie will fade and it won't bother me anymore. 

The third technique was the first one he taught me, back when MG was a baby and I saw him before.  I had a lot of anxiety that I was going to ruin her, and that if I loved her the best way to protect her was to get as far away from her as possible because I'm such a horrible mother.  Dr. Dave had me write down a list of what constitutes a "good mother."  Big surprise, I was already doing everything on my list.  So, I logic myself out of that, "I'm a bad mom!" thought, now, when it comes.  It was hard at first, but it's gotten really easy now.  Now when that voice says, "You're an awful mother!" it doesn't take any mental effort or energy at all for me to shout it down. 

I do this obsessive anxious magical thinking crazy-making in several different ways, so we talked about some different ways I can apply these three techniques to some specific things I tend to worry about. 

Dr. Dave told me about a longitudinal study (14 years?) that was done on normal, healthy people.  They kept track of all the things they worried about.  Over the course of the study, 98% of the things that they'd worried about never happened at all, and the 2% that did happen weren't as bad as the people had predicted.  He said that people tend to overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen, and at the same time they'll underestimate their own capacity to deal with it.  "Oh yeah, I totally do that," I said. 

So that's what I'm working on right now.  We don't expect to get me to the point of having no anxiety at all - only sociopaths can claim that distinction, and I don't aspire to be one!  There's a functional level of anxiety around 3 or 4 on a scale of one to ten, that's actually beneficial.  It's an inverted U shape, with anxiety on the x-axis and performance or ability to function on the y-axis (see image below which I borrowed from this website).  I was at an 8 before, as I mentioned.  I'd say I'm down to a 6-1/2 now.  We're aiming for that optimal 3 or 4. 

I'm mainly writing this post for myself, as a record of what I've learned in therapy so that I can go back and re-read it over the coming weeks and months.  There's an off chance that it might help someone else, too.  If you're reading this, though, please know that I'm not a psychiatric professional myself, and this is written based on my own experiences and my own recollections from therapy, and that it is not meant to be advice of any kind, except maybe, "Find yourself a cognitive behavioral therapist!" if you're struggling.  You don't have to suffer. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Maybe I'm Not So Weird After All...

This is an important look at how prevalent PPD and PAMD are in the U.S.  Maybe I'm not so weird, after all.

I'm sorry I haven't had much to say, lately.  I don't want to bore you with repeats of what I've already said.  I'm still anxious.  It's getting better.  I'm getting better at asking for and accepting help.  I'm doing a lot of breathing exercises.  BJ has been amazing.  The kids are fine. 

School is turning into a part-time job.  It seems like there's something important that I need to remember every single day.  How do you folks who have multiple kids in school manage to remember everything that needs to get done and returned and worn and paid for?  So far the Google Calendar is working, assuming that I remember to check it before bed and in the morning before we leave, but in 5 or 6 years I'm going to have three kids in school at the same time, and I just don't think I'm organized enough for that!  This is pre-school, and I'm already overwhelmed! 

Don't even get me started about all the paper...  Oh my.  Entire forests have been slaughtered for the projects my kids do in a week.  I have to admit that I display my very favorites (currently one project at my office and four at home), and I toss the rest.  I can't keep every sheet of paper that they generate for the next 20+ years.  Today Claire did one with a toothbrush and real toothpaste - I didn't realize that it was real, and wet, until I got to the car with it all over my shirt.  Whoops!

That, by the way, is why I still have wipes in my car, even though I don't have a kid in diapers right now.

I'm not completely disorganized.

Ok, these fussy children need a nap.  Tonight's our "date night" where we trade babysitting with my good friend Karen who also has small kids (Best. Idea. Ever!) so that we can go out with our spouses for less than $100 (dinner = $40, movie = $20, popcorn and soda = $20, babysitter = $40, budget = busted.  Taking the babysitter and the popcorn out of that equation really helps!).  Then in a week or two she'll leave her kids with us and they'll go out.  Hooray!  And the kids think they're getting to have a "date" with their "boyfriends" Owen and Cam.  Anyway, it means that the kids will be up late, and I just can't inflict them on Karen in their current moods.  I won't mind laying down with them.  Ha ha!  Sneaky Mommy!

If you have a friend who has kids who are similar in age to your own, you've got to try this.  We're on our second month and it's working out beautifully.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Even CNN Agrees...

I sing this to myself several times a day:

<a href="">chillout by zefrank</a>

And now even CNN agrees that it's a good tool to use in emergencies!  Crazy.

If you're not familiar with Ze Frank, you should be.  He completely rocks.

Swimming Update

For some reason, yesterday, I got the idea in my head that I could help BJ with the yard work.  I mowed the front yard (which isn't all that huge) and then promptly went inside to take a nap.  I slept for over two hours, and it was delicious.  Meanwhile, BJ took the kids to swimming.  It's a good thing I didn't go, because the teacher jumped off of the diving platform with the kids in her arms.

They'd still be peeling me off of the ceiling if I'd been there.

Of course they're fine - Mary Grace loved it.  Claire refused to try, but the instructor did apparently jump into the deep end with Claire from the edge of the pool. 

Deep end - hah!  They haven't been in less than 17 feet of water for any of their lessons.  The whole thing happens in the deepest deep end I've ever seen.