When Mommy Has a Meltdown

This morning, after having 4 hours of sleep and being up for most of the night with a toddler who is too smart for his own good, I had a meltdown on the kitchen floor.

Straight up Meryl Streep style.

Something is up with my son. I don’t know if he is sick or teething or entering the terrible 2’s early. It’s also possible that he is just plain trying to break my Mommy Spirit.

He was up from 11 p.m. – 3 a.m. and I could do nothing to get him to sleep. I rocked. I offered him milk. I sang. I swayed. I Happiest Baby on the Blocked his ass. And nothing worked. Every time I put him back in his crib I had to listen to his crying, which after 15 minutes at 1:30 broke me completely. Back into his room I went and we had a stare off where we discussed how important sleeping is. He didn’t care. So my next step was to pull a pillow and blanket from the living room and camp out on his floor. I closed his door, laid down in his crib and let him walk all around his room until he cuddled up (or rather on) to me and slowly drifted to sleep. An hour of this and he was finally asleep enough that I moved him to his crib. Then I laid back on the floor until I was absolutely certain that he was asleep. Then I used some moves from The Bourne Identity and got out of his room as fast and as quietly as possible.

I fell back asleep for the last 2 glorious hours of sleep before my alarm went off. I had dreams about Zombies. Thanks kid. Thanks a lot.

After forcing my way out of bed 45 minutes after the alarm went off I settled into my morning routine. And then my sock bun that I just mastered wouldn’t work and my shoulder hurt and lunch still needed to be packed. I was overwhelmed already and I was 30 minutes into the day.

Fast forward another 30 minutes and my munchkin is up. He starts out in a great mood and I think, “Thank God. No permanent emotional damage from last night when I told him I had had enough of his crying.”

Then, as I’m trying to get our breakfast and lunch put together, he freaks. Crying. Demanding to be held. Doesn’t want anything to do with my husband. I eventually have to stop multitasking because cutting a tomato and creating healthy lunches are not conducive with an inconsolable toddler at your feet. So I scoop him up while wearing heels and I hold him and whisper to him. Nothing works. He just cries and cries.

Hubs takes over making coffee and lunches.

I can no longer balance on my heels so I sit on the kitchen floor in my dress clothes, cradling my baby who is still crying. And then…

And then I am so overwhelmed and so tired and I’m going to be so late to work and lunch isn’t done. And I just lose it. Tears flow down my cheeks, ruining my makeup. I sniffle and all I can think is how I must be doing something wrong because Henry is so upset and I can’t make it better. I can always make it better. His little face pulls away and looks at me and then his little arms wrap themselves around my neck and he’s still crying, but now we are crying together. And then Hubs is crouching down to brush tears off my face and rub my back and toddler looks at me again and stops crying.

The three of us on the kitchen floor. Two of us in tears. At 6 a.m. Yee-haw! This is going to be a day.

Somehow we get out the door and my son stops crying and I get to work and I have breakfast and lunch and everything is all right.

Does anyone else have #mommymeltdowns occasionally?

 

Who controls childbirth?

The birth of my baby boy did not go as I had planned. Like many women, I look back and think about what could have been different, what I could have done differently and I question the choices that I made. There were some very good choices  – staying home to labor in peace, hiring a doula, avoiding induction and educating myself on common birth interventions. Above anything else, I am glad and proud of myself for having a drug free delivery, but I didn’t walk away from labor and delivery without any emotional scars. This might seem strange for someone who had a natural birth.

If you need a refresher on my birth story you can start with Part I here.

In case you need/want the edited version here it is: At 6 months pregnant my husband and I decided that we wanted to have a home birth. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly and we had done a lot of research. The decision was driven by our local hospital’s absurd C-Section rate (hovering between 40-45%), the attitude of my OB when I expressed that I wanted a drug free delivery, and my overall confidence that this was something my body was made to do. I had a very easy, pain free labor until I hit transition at 7  or 8 cm. My water broke and there was Meconium in it. I tried pushing for 2 hours at home. My midwife decided we needed to transfer to the hospital in the middle of a snowstorm. We got to the hospital. I pushed for another hour. I asked for the vacuum extraction and my son was born perfectly healthy and absolutely beautiful.

In the days after my sons birth I was absolutely high from the experience of giving birth. I didn’t sleep for 2 days and I couldn’t get enough of this little baby and I was absolutely astounded by my body. It was only later as the weeks went by that I started processing what had happened.

Recently, I switched OB providers and am now seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife. She is a Midwife who delivers babies in hospitals and I like her because she is the best of both worlds. I will still get the care of a midwife while having the safety of a future hospital delivery and will have confidence that my provider favors the natural process of birth rather than the interventions that have become so commonplace. I also really like the OBs in her practice. They are open to natural birth, but still have the surgical and advanced medical training.

My new Midwife told me that I should work on processing our first experience before having another baby or even attempting to have another baby. She suggested maybe trying Reikki or Hypnosis. After giving it some thought I realized that the best way for me to work through whatever issues I have is by writing. It’s kind of the way I’ve always dealt with my issues. Countless conversations with my husband have been helpful. His confidence in me gives me confidence in me.

Last week I read this article on MSN and for the first time ever I felt like I was reading an unbiased piece of writing about childbirth. The author is honest and open and at the end I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. I don’t have nearly as much birth trauma as this woman, but what a breath of fresh air this article was. Finally, a woman talking about childbirth in real terms and confronting both the home birth movement and the C-section rate in the same article without choosing a side. A truly beautiful piece of writing.

So here goes (if you need to get caught up on my birth story take a gander over here – Part I, Part II, Part III)…

I feel these negative emotions about the birth of my son:

  • Guilt for attempting a home birth and for pressuring myself into it. Looking back it was not the right decision for me. My body was capable of it, but the doubt I felt as I got closer to my due date was a sign of my subconscious uneasiness. I didn’t follow my gut.
  • Embarrassment for attempting a home birth and spouting off about it to anyone who would listen. Open mouth. Insert foot.
  • Fear of the pain in the final stage of labor. 3 1/2 hours of the most intense contractions left me drained. I swear if someone had given me a scalpel at 9 centimeters I would have done my own C-Section.
  • Anger at the midwife who attended my birth because she did not provide the emotional support that I was sold on when we first met with her or the coaching that could have helped me to deliver faster.
  • Anger at my OB for not providing any support at the end of my pregnancy and for saying things like, “We can’t let this baby get too big.” “I’m not responsible if your baby dies at home.” and for, in general, not being supportive of a natural birth. The reason why I chose to attempt a home birth in the first place.

I feel these positive emotions about the birth of my son:

  • A true sense of accomplishment for having a natural, drug free delivery
  • A new sense of confidence – I truly know that I can do anything
  • Profound respect for my body and what it is capable of
  • Adoration for my amazing husband who stood by me, supported me and loved me. (One of the best memories I have of labor is looking up into his eyes during one of the last pushes. As the baby was crowing, my husband’s eyes were glowing and I knew in that moment that I was going to DO this. I don’t know if meant to communicate that, but By God he did.)

As I think about/prepare for our next child, I can’t help but envision what labor will be like this time. My new Midwife says that second births are an entirely different story. That they are almost always easier, shorter and that my body will have muscle memory and know what to do. I want to have faith in my body again and if I could have the same first 4 hours of labor like I had last time I would be one happy camper. But I’m trying to not set myself up for expectations like that. I’m trying to be open to whatever it is that my body needs. If I don’t have an easy, almost pain free labor next time I may be more inclined to get that epidural. If my baby or my life is at stake I would undoubtedly have that C-Section without blinking. I’m trying to find peace and strength in that. I’m trying to work through whatever emotional shit I’ve carried with me and I think this is working.

I feel better all ready…

Why I Won’t be Watching What to Expect…

In an entertainment article that came out on MSN.com today, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz share their thoughts on child birth. The best way I can describe my feelings after reading the little entertaining piece is: pissed.

Jennifer is a mother. Cameron is not. They both give descriptions of birth that sound down right horrific. The way they make it sound no matter if you have a C-Section or Vaginal Birth it’s all messy and gross and scary. Cameron goes as far as to say,

Cameron Diaz: “I was looking at it like, ‘Oh, my God!’ But the vaginal delivery was crazy — no man should ever see it! Never let a man see that. Never.”

Really Cameron? You’re going to put that out there when the only experience you have in the delivery room is watching a birth happen. Let me share a little something with you, sister:

Vaginal birth is natural and no one is forcing your husband/partner/boyfriend down to that end of the bed, but a lot of them end up down there and most of them go on to live  life with a new respect for their wife and the same desire for them that they’ve always had. Giving birth vaginally can be scary and slightly gross and like nothing that you’ve ever experienced, but it is also absolutely beautiful and empowering and truly a miracle.Yo Cameron! You witnessed a life come into this world and your only takeaway was this?

I don’t care if you’ve had a C-Section. I really don’t. But if you’re like J. Lo and you react to it by saying this:

Jennifer Lopez: “I had a C-section, but my sister gave birth six months later — we got pregnant around the same time — and she asked me to be in the delivery room with her, and I was, like, ‘Wow!’ Because I had twins and that was recommended for me to have a C-section, and there was a part of me [that] had thought, ‘I didn’t get to do it the way that everybody else does.’ But when I saw my sister pushing that baby out, I was like, ‘Maybe this was all right! Maybe this was a better out.’ So that was an experience.”

A better out? I’m not really sure how to take that. A better out of having to deliver your children? A better out is having a C-Section? A better way of getting your children out? I’m not really sure.

I totally understand that birth experiences vary from woman to woman and I also totally understand that these two actresses are not doctors or midwives and that they are trying to sell a movie based on a book. A book I chose not to read while pregnant. I just hate that birth continues to be shown by our media as something gross, nasty and painful. I hate that more women don’t get to experience the absolute awe of working so hard to push your baby out and the overwhelming feeling of empowerment after giving birth. More than anything I hate that women who read this article will fear doing something that their body is meant to do or  if a C-Section is necessary they will be left with the images that Jennifer and Cameron discuss so graphically.

Adoption?

You would have to be living under a rock or here to miss the Mother’s Day Time Magazine cover asking, “Are You Mom Enough?” The backlash of that article is presenting itself as a number of well thought out articles by intelligent, educated, anti-Mommy Wars writers. I’ll save my commentary on the Mommy Wars for another time, but I want to share an article that was posted by a Facebook friend of mine that really made me think about motherhood in an entirely new way.

The Only Mommy War Worth Waging

In the article, author Kristen Howerton calls out the absolute nonsense of the Mommy Wars and focuses on child welfare, foster care and adoption.

She writes:

“I don’t much care if you breastfed your kid until they started kindergarten or if you fed them formula from day one. I don’t really care if you turned your infant car seat forward-facing prior to age 2, or if you homeschool, or if you send your kids to daycare while you go to work. Do you cosleep? Did you circumcise your son? I DON’T CARE. Do you “babywear”? Push your kid around in a stroller? Use a leash for your kid at Disneyland? Whatever. Good for you.

When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one. All of these petty wars about the choices of capable, loving mothers is just a lot of white noise to me, Quite honestly, I’m often astonished at the non-essential parenting issues I see moms getting upset about. Particularly when there are so many kids in this world not being parented at all.”

So wow. That hit me like a rock in the gut. Because wow and whoa and ouch and ohmygodtherearekidsinhorriblesituations.

My husband and I had only discussed adoption once or twice before getting pregnant, but only in the context of having that option if we were not able to conceive. This article planted a seed in me where I started thinking in a completely different context. More like “I am so absurdly blessed and we are exactly the type of people who could provide for an adopted child.” More like “I had no idea there are so many children who need homes in our country.” And finally, “Holy Crap our foster system is THAT screwed up!”

I still don’t know if adoption is something we will choose in the future. There is so much more I need to learn and so many things my husband and I must discuss. All I can say is that after reading that article my thoughts on adoption have changed dramatically.

I would love to hear from anyone who has adopted or is adopted.

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This Morning at Daycare…

I’m kind of amazed how every morning at daycare is a little different. The basic routine stays the same, but every day I get a little anecdote that I carry with me for the rest of the day. Sometimes it’s things like how my son is now “tackling” the other children or how so and so’s mom brought Kale chips because apparently KALE is the new wonder food. Or how the new kid’s name is Valentino and he’s from South Africa, thus the name Valentino seems slightly more normal. Are you entertained yet? Because these little tid-bits help me through the monotony of cubical life.

This morning was a little special though…

I arrived promptly at 7. I’m proud of this because it meant that I had a shot at being almost on time to work. I bring Henry into his classroom and it turns out we are the first ones there. As in, the very first. There is no teacher in sight.

Henry and I start playing and soon a few more parents stroll in. Still, no teacher. All of us parent folk start feeding our kids breakfast and then Florence walks in.

Florence is a little bit of an anomaly at daycare. She’s probably in her 70’s and she has a habit of reintroducing herself to you many, many times. She’s what the daycare industry calls a “floater.” But not in the gross way! Like she fills in wherever she is needed.

I mean, come on guys. Grow up already!

Florence walks into the classroom and promptly announces, “Hello everyone! I’m Florence!”

Now every parent in the room has met Florence before. She’s cared for all of our children in some capacity since they were small, itty bitty infants. But every time, cue Foreigner in the background - Feels Like the First Time!

Then one of the parents asks what day it is and Florence says, “It’s the 10th. I know that because me and my family are doing estate planning right now. You know, estate planning is very important. You should all consider doing that. And you can’t wait, you need to do it right away.”

Florence is from New York so imagine all of this in a New York accent. She went on and on. It was both educational and unexpected.You don’t expect to get financial planning advice in the Joey’s classroom. You know? I think this is what the business community would call an “added value.”

I quickly make my separation anxiety exit, which consists of throwing some food at my kid, yelling I love you and scooting out of the door. This is also Dose #1 of Mommy Guilt for the day.

At the front desk I wait to get a receipt so I can apply for that pesky flex spending. While I am waiting, a concerned father brings up the American flag that is flying outside.

“Did you know that the flag out front has a tear in it?”

Front desk: “Really? Because we just replaced it.”

“Yes, there is a tear and that is illegal. Unless the flag has seen combat. I doubt that flag has.”

Front desk: “We will look into it right away.”

I don’t have anything against Mr. Patriotic. In fact, I envy that he had time to even look at the flag. My morning routine consists of balancing my kid’s back pack while removing him from the car seat and hoping that neither of us get run over in the parking lot. I also try not to spill the open coffee mug that rests on my console. Then comes the moment where  I realize that I have not dressed my child appropriately for the weather. No coat? Pants, not shorts? Tevas with no socks? Dose #2 of Mommy Guilt coming at cha.

This morning, as I slid into my car, sipped my coffee and took off to work, I thought, “Wow – does everyone have these funny little daycare mornings?”

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