Tag: Let’s Get Real

Baby Boy Birth Story – Darkest Night Begets Brightest Light

Every birth story is a unique and special experience. Our Baby Boy spared no expense in making this a memorable occasion. He has brightened our life ever since he cured the darkest night.

 

Doctor’s Appointment

I had been hoping to naturally go into labor. I made it to my 39 week appointment and with despair heard that not much had changed. It was all I could do to not burst into tears. My baby boy was already measuring big, my mom was coming into town on Saturday and I didn’t want to wait and then have to deliver via C-section because of his size. I was so uncomfortable and Siena had been big too.

My amazing doctor asked me if I wanted to be induced and after talking with Austin about it, we decided that that was the best thing for us to do. I had been induced with Siena and was told that it probably was for the better, just because of her size and Baby Boy was already measuring bigger. So, if we were going to be induced, we might as well get that baby out of me sooner rather than later. The induction was scheduled for that night.

 

Last Moments as a Family of Three

Dropping Siena off before Baby Boy CameI was supposed to go in and have something put next to my cervix that would help soften it all night and then they would start Pitocin the next morning. Austin decided he wanted to spend the night with me in the hospital, so our friends were nice enough to watch Siena. Before dropping her off, we all went out to dinner one last time as a family of three. It was a restaurant we’d never been to and I got chicken strips and had one of them. I wasn’t that hungry… even though I knew I should probably eat because I wouldn’t get to later.

We took Siena to our friend’s house. We got her pajamas on and set up a Pack ‘n Play in their master closet. She looked confused and a little scared. We said a little prayer with her and told her that daddy would be there to get her in the morning. I felt like my heart was breaking a little as we closed the door. She had no idea what was going on or how things were going to change. I just remember looking at her big, beautiful eyes staring up at me, trusting that we would be back for her. It was probably harder on me than it was on her. Apparently she woke up the next morning and was just fine after she had her moment of confusion with new people around.

Getting Checked In

Trying to Sleep Before Baby BoyWe drove to the hospital and checked in. It didn’t take long to get situated. They had a room all ready for me. I donned the hospital gown and they did their usual prep stuff, reading documents, going over legal things, etc. I was dilated to a 2 ¾ and 70% effaced. Just a little more dilation than earlier that morning. It wasn’t super encouraging and I was glad that I had opted for the induction.

They stuck something next to my cervix that was supposed to help get labor going. Things were going pretty well. My nurse was super nice and I was pretty comfy in the bed. Austin conked out almost immediately and since I wasn’t tired enough to go to bed I started watching a movie on my tablet. Then I found out from my awesome nurse around eleven that I would be getting a new nurse…which is when hell began.

A Nurse Makes All the Difference

I knew it would be rough when I asked her, “so do you have any crazy stories from working here?”

She looked at me with a cutting, patronizing look. “That would be a HEPA violation.”

I’m sure my eyebrows raised in obvious surprise and disdain. I was just trying to make conversation but now felt like I couldn’t ask her anything without some sort of judgment being passed.

The Expert

My new nurse apparently had an idea of how every pregnancy was ideally supposed to go and my attitude  about my medically assisted labor did not seem to measure up to her standards. She obviously knew better than his mama or his doctor what was best for my Baby Boy. I started feeling contractions around 11:30 or so. They were bad enough that I wanted an epidural.

austin waiting for baby boy
Austin found a spot to rest while waiting for Baby Boy.

The nurse did not approve of my getting an epidural so early. She would say things like, “Well… because you’re getting an epidural so early… You really should wait… Are you sure you really need it?

But I was insistent and soon the anesthesiologist was there to relieve my pain. It was hard for me to even bend over, I was hurting so bad. I couldn’t relax.

I think it is also important to note at this time that I did have a terrible cough so my nurse was passively making comments like, “What was your doctor thinking? Inducing you when you have a cough?” To which I thought, my doctor is a genius. There’s no way I want to be miserable with pregnancy any longer along with this miserable cough. (And I had the cough for another couple of weeks… it wouldn’t have mattered.)

The Never-Ending Nausea

After my epidural, I suddenly felt very nauseous and remembered that the same thing had happened with Siena. I also knew that with my first pregnancy, they had given me something almost immediately that cleared up my nausea. Well, this nurse told me they gave me something and it could only be administered ever 6 hours, which I later found out was only Zofran!

Extreme Nausea waiting for Baby Boy
Trying to smile while suffering through the nausea.

It was doing absolutely nothing for me. Every time I rolled over (to evenly distribute the epidural) I felt horrible waves of nausea. I couldn’t remember what had been given to me before but I knew this wasn’t it. She refused to even ask the doctor on call if there was something else.

The Urine

TMI WARNING!

The fluids they kept giving me for baby boyShortly after the epidural, the most embarrassing horror, that I will never be able to forget was that they refused to put a permanent catheter in me. They are pumping me with fluids, I’ve lost all feeling down there and I have a cough, that unless I squeeze my legs together will force urine out of me. I complained to the nurse and tried to explain the situation.

“This is the way we have to do it,” she responded. She eventually did ask the doctor, who without coming to talk to me, also refused. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t do it when I had had one with Siena, even though I didn’t have a cold.

I pleaded and threatened, “you will literally have to keep changing my sheets because I cannot stop myself from peeing the bed.”

“Well, we could give you some pads.” I must have gone through 30 pads that night. My hands were covered in urine and the nurse and whoever the resident on call was that night, refused to put in a permanent catheter. And on top of all of this, I am trying my hardest not to spew vomit everywhere.

 

The New Nurse

Some time in the middle of the night, I got a new nurse who liked to interrupt me every time I asked for something for the nausea, by saying, “You have already asked for that.”

Obviously I have! Would I still be asking if I wasn’t desperate? Do you think it’s pleasant for me to constantly request for someone to come into my room and help me?

Pitocin

At 5:30 in the morning they finally started me on Pitocin. I was so excited because I was so ready for the night to be over. Delivery couldn’t be as bad as my night had been. Things were at least starting to move in the right direction. After they took out the string next to my cervix, they informed me that it hadn’t been inserted far enough and it had essentially done nothing all night. That was all for nothing then.

Around 7:30, I was dilated to a 4. Maybe things would move now!

The End in Sight

My doctor was going to be there in half an hour. I still felt horribly nauseated, but at least the nurses were gone and daylight was starting to come in through the window. They checked me at 7:50 because I guess it looked like my contractions were increasing. Suddenly I was at a 7. Then, just a couple of minutes later I really felt like I needed to push.

I told my morning nurse, who was perfectly pleasant, that I felt like I needed to push and she was like, “well, you were only at a seven a couple of minutes ago.” She checked again. “Wow! You’re at a nine.”

Then my doctor came in. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over! It was finally over! Light had broken over the horizon. Immediately I felt like everything was going to be all right. She was scheduled to come in at 8:00 am. Good thing! Because Baby Boy was coming fast.

Doctor came to deliver Baby Boy
After some Phenergan and my Amazing Doctor came!

We were talking about my nausea that I had been fighting all night and then she said, “we’ll just give you some Phenergan,” without even blinking an eye. As soon as she said it I said, “that’s what it was!” That was the medicine the doctor had prescribed when the epidural gave me nausea with Siena.

My wonderful doctor gestured to the nurses and they started putting me on it and I instantly felt better. Why couldn’t they have given that to me 9 hours ago?!

Go Time

At some point I had to interrupt her as she was talking to me and I was like. “I really feel like I have to push!” She checked me and said, “Well, let’s get this baby out of you.” Time for Baby Boy!

“Right now!?” I thought I’d have more time after my Doctor Goddess got there.

She laughed. “Yeah, I’ll just break your water. Let’s have this baby.”

getting ready to push out baby boy

Pushing out my Baby Boy!
Pushing to see my Baby Boy!

She broke my water; it gushed everywhere. I pushed for twenty minutes or so and my Baby Boy was out! I couldn’t believe it. When I had delivered Siena, I had been in so much pain in spite of my epidural. The ‘ring of fire’ or whatever they called it. When I asked my doctor about that, she said that some hospitals turn off the epidural before you start pushing so that you can feel when you are supposed to push! WHAT?!?!?!

With Grayson’s delivery I could feel no pain, just pressure. It was awesome! I felt so alert after he was born, even though I hadn’t had a wink of sleep the night before. And there was my beautiful Baby Boy!

My beautiful Baby Boy

Baby Boy all cleaned off!

He was so amazing. Also, he was all covered in the white gunk when they handed him to me for the first time. They cleaned him up while some new resident stitched me up. My Doctor was not happy when she found out that the other doctor had let a resident practice on me.

waiting to hold baby boy

I was a little annoyed because the stitching took so long and I just wanted to hold my baby again. Finally, they were done and I got to hold him.

Holding my precious baby boy
Finally Holding My Baby

My Baby Boy

The first thing I remember about him is he had this cute little pointy nose! I’m pretty sure he has my eyes, at least the shape. And he was super bald. Siena had a lot more hair than he did. Oh and he was definitely a boy! It was so cute.

My precious Baby Boy. We named him Grayson. He was finally in our arms, healthy, happy, alive! I couldn’t believe the pregnancy was finally over and that the most horrifying night of my life was in the past.

Look at his leg rolls already! He was a hefty 8 lbs 15 oz and he was early! I have big babies.

After we shared some time with just Austin and I and our little bundle, Austin left to go get Siena.

I couldn’t believe we had Baby Boy Grayson already. I still called him Baby Boy because that is what we called him for so long. We had kept his name a secret and now that I could finally say it, he seemed more like Baby Boy. Grayson was here. We were a family of four! Our lives were forever changed.

My Sweet Grayson

Big Sister Siena

Siena about to meet Grayson
Her life is about to change forever!

When she came in, she looked like she always does in a new situation. Her eyes were really big. She just stared at everything and walked slowly into the room. I had Grayson in the bassinet because I didn’t want it to seem like we had replaced her. After she finally made it to the bed, we showed her, her baby brother.

Siena meeting baby boy brother

siena meeting baby boyBaby was already one of her favorite words so she just kept saying baby over and over again. She liked trying to hold him and was super sweet with him. I don’t think I detected jealousy or her being mad once. From day one, she just loved her brother.

The rest of the day we stayed in the hospital together as a family and hung out. At night time, Austin went home with Siena and they slept there. I slept in the hospital with Grayson.

That night I got a little bit of sleep because in spite of how exhausted I was, I couldn’t sleep much. I had to resort to watching a movie, You’ve Got Mail, to fall asleep. It took my mind off of the rush, adrenaline and excitement I felt at having Grayson finally join our family.

 

siena checking out baby boy
In an act of unparalleled love, Siena placed her treasured Owl Blanket with her new baby brother.

Family of Four

We are now a family of four! It feels like Grayson has always been here. In some way, he probably was, just waiting to come and join us. He and Siena have so much fun together. I love watching them interact. Thank-you for joining our family, Grayson!

If you happen to be expecting yourself, you might want to check out information on what you’re in for. Best of luck new Mama!

After having spent 6 months with him, I have a little idea of just how special he is.

doctor who delivered baby boy posing for picture with our family
Us with our incredible Doctor!

My Husband, Perfect for Us

Prescriptive World

I read so many articles telling men and women what their roles should be in relationships. Women should be working, men should be helping more with the kids, women should be happy at home and men should be content providing for their family. We live in a prescriptive world where people feel the need to tell my husband and I how we should think, how we should behave and how we should raise our kids.

But, I don’t really care what other people think my relationship and my family life should be like. My family is amazing. We may not be the trendiest idea of a family right now, but who cares? It’s what works for us. My husband is the breadwinner and he is so good at it. He is also an incredible father and the love of my life. I am a Stay at Home Mom right now and I love it! (I don’t love it every day… nap time today was a monster.)

So, keep writing your articles, telling me how to live my life and how I am supposed to think and act. From now on though, I’m going to try and ignore them. So, ignoring the trends and the social norms, my husband, this is why I love you and us, just the way we are.

 

Dear Husband,

You may not see this post for a little while because I know how busy you are. I am so grateful that you come home and immediately play with the kids instead of perusing social media. That is amazing. I know that work is exhausting and that all you want to do when you come home is relax. But somehow, you make the time anyways. You are amazing to me.

Every single day, I may not always see it. I may complain, I may be grumpy or I may just not be looking for it, but wish that I could always see it. Because I know some of just how amazing you are. You are my husband and I hope to see all of your greatness one day, but for now let me tell you some of the little things that I know.

The Things You Do

I’m impressed by the things you do. You listen to your scriptures on the way to work. Sometimes you make dinner for us. There are so many times when you help get the kids ready or help me tidy up the house. I know you don’t have to. No one HAS to. But you do it anyway, because you love us. You ask me how I’m feeling and you really want to know. When you ask for my opinion, you really want it. You see me as an equal and you value my input.

When I talk with you about things that bother me, you infrequently argue with me. Instead, you discuss it with me and we work together to make it better.

You always drive when we’re together. It might seem silly to some. But I don’t like driving and much prefer to dork on my phone and talk to you while you cruise the streets.

You stop by the store on your way home from work even though you hate going to the store. That really means you must love me because you don’t want me to leave after you come home from work.

You go to work Monday through Friday. You provide for our family. I see you clinging to your pillow in the mornings and know that you would much rather sleep. I notice when you are so excited that it’s Friday so that you can have a break. You love your job, but it’s not always fun to work. I get that. But every single day, you go anyways even though you might rather stay in bed and snuggle with the kids.

The Things You Don’t Do

I’m impressed even more by the things you don’t do. You don’t criticize the house when it’s messy. There is never blame placed when something has gone wrong. In the mornings, when you have to go to work early, you don’t wake me up. You shut the doors so the noise and the lights will not interrupt my sleep.

my husband with our newborn sonYou don’t interrupt me when I’m talking or crush my dreams. I never question whether you think I am competent because you don’t do everything for me. You don’t expect meals to be ready. Sometimes, you don’t do the things that you want to do because you know there is something important to me that I want to do.

You don’t lie to me. You don’t keep things from me. There is never any reason for me to wonder if there are secrets I don’t know about. You don’t do things that would compromise your health.

My favorite thing that you don’t do though, is you don’t allow me to talk about your favorite person negatively. You want me to treat your favorite person with as much love as you have for her. You want me to be nice to her. And I try to do that even when my self doubt and insecurities would tempt me to not be nice to myself.

All that You are

Austin, I love all that you are. I love your strengths. You lift me up when I am weak and are seeing me struggle. When we got married, your strengths and my strengths became our strengths and now we are so much stronger together.

I love your weaknesses, because after we got married, they became our weaknesses and we can become better together and through Jesus Christ. Now we have each other to lean on as we work to become more like Him.

I love who you were. I love learning about where you came from and why you are the way that you are now. You have such a rich history and it has shaped who you are today.

I love seeing who you will become. The amount of potential you have sometimes astounds me. You are truly going to become something great one day and I can’t wait to see it.

I love who you are now. I get to see you right in the middle of your journey. You’ve come so far and I get to see the evidences of that character building every day in our home. You’ve got so far to go and I am ecstatic that I get to go with you. We are a team and get to be together forever. Thank you for being my partner. We are going to do such great things!

You are My Husband

But the reason I love you the most, is because you are my husband. I chose you. You chose me. We chose each other and the fact that we are committed to each other is why I love you no matter what. We promised to make this work and I plan on keeping my promise. I love you forever.

Love,

The Love of Your Life

 

My husband, me and my daughterYour Family

So, for those of you who are constantly measuring your family against the opinions of everyone else: stop. Your family works because you are the ones making it work. You are trying your best. Don’t worry that it might not be the way everyone else describes as the ideal. If you are happy, you are right.

I love my husband. My husband is right. I love myself. I am right. I love my family. My family is right.

We work to make it right every day.

12 Moments When Your Baby WILL NOT Sleep Through the Night

Some parents are lucky and their baby starts sleeping through the night. Other parents are extremely talented and they lull their baby into a tender unconsciousness for the duration of the night.I have not been so lucky. My baby will not sleep through the night.

We have tried everything it feels like. He eats a ton and wakes up to eat all the time and he REALLY eats! I think we are just doomed to endure. When your baby will not sleep through the night, I think you are with me on these 12 moments you get to embrace.

1. When you make sure his bedtime routine has been performed with perfection and he has been properly pampered:

2. When you got him to go to sleep and you’re pretty sure tonight’s the night:

3. When you just have to check on him one last time:

4. When you hear him start to fuss and realize once again, your baby will not sleep through the night:

5. When you wish your husband would shout this:

6. When you climb back into bed, are on the brink of falling asleep and you hear him:

7. When you wake, but you knew it was coming and it’s probably the last time:

8. When it wasn’t the last time and you’re up 30 minutes later:

9. When that wasn’t the last time either and you’re up 30 minutes later again:

 

10. When your alarm clock goes off:

11. When you try to be a normal person every day:

No one can know for certain how long this will last. Our son is almost 6 months old… and that baby will not sleep through the night. I long for and pray for the day when I find moment number 12.

12. When you finally wake up and realize it’s the morning and the last time you were conscious is when you chose to go to bed:

 

If you want to read about one of my ACTUAL horrible nights, ENJOY!

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can. 

Cake Smash Fail – Definitely Not Pinterest Perfect

In my days before I knew that I was not Pinterest Perfect, I thought it would be a great idea to make a cake for my daughter’s first birthday and we could do a Cake Smash! Smashin’ idea, eh? It was going to be brilliant! I made a cake that looked like one of the owls on her precious owl blanket. This was going to be so fun!

And then of course, being the photographers that we are, we were going to document every fun, messy second. Bring the Cake Smash on!

one-year-old-in-the-middle-of cake smash

Building the Cake

I did two layers. I know, I’m so fancy! There were different colors of frosting that I had made with cream cheese so not only was it going to look pretty but it was going to taste pretty darn good. I spent an entire afternoon creating my masterpiece and I wanted it to look just like her blankie.

All in all, I think I did a good job. It looked like a cake fit for my princess to smash.

cake smash-cake, my perfect creation!

Finding a Time

This was tricky, because my husband’s work schedule was busy, the Holidays were upon us and we didn’t necessarily want a big audience around while we went crazy with our camera. We ended up having to wait a couple of days after her birthday before we could do it... which affected the density of the cake

Finally, we got her in her cute little bootie cover and got everything all set up. Time to show off our cute, messy angel to the world.

 

The Cake Smash

This Cake Smash wasn’t exactly what you would call a success. First of all, our daughter didn’t seem remotely interested in the cake. She was more interested in the lights we had set up and the big giant cameras in front of her parent’s faces.

Well, the Cake Smash was a giant FAILURE! My cake that I had spent hours meticulously baking and decorating was hard as a rock and she tried everything to dig into it, but to no avail. 

 

1-year-old-pushing-down-on-cake smash-cake

1-year-old-trying-to-penetrate-cake smash-cake-with-teeth

Finally, we tore a chunk off for her and she at least got to taste it, but her interest faded shortly thereafter.

trying-some-of-the-cake smash-cake

 

We tried the cake too. It was now like a calcified brick with baby slobber all over the top. Needless to say, we ended up having to throw the whole thing away. So sad!

Lessons Learned

Sometimes it’s just better to pay for a cake. I am obviously not a Cake Smash baking expert.

Don’t assume your child likes to get messy. Ours hates it.

When it comes to kids, it’s okay to let go of expectations, because it is never going to go the way you planned.

You will still get adorable pictures though!

1-year-old-not-getting-to-enjoy-cake smash-cake

More Mom Fails!

For more Mom Fails check out: 5 Mom Moments That Were NOT Funny at the Time.

Or, enjoy my failure at trying to teach my daughter how to use the potty.

My Daughter – Ambassador of Light

I’m sure most people feel the way about their kids that I do about my daughter. She lights up my world. My son does too. This post however, is about my daughter. It is over the last two years of having her in our home that I have come to realize just how special she is. Let me share with you what little I know about my daughter’s potential.

When I First Met My Daughter

My daughter was born in the afternoon after a grueling labor. Twenty hours of labor and three and a half hours of pushing. As I finally got her out of me, I collapsed in a kind of exhaustion that I think few have experienced. My body and spirit felt broken and I didn’t know if I would ever be the same again.

I was right in being worried; I never was the same again. But it wasn’t because of my delivery experience. It was because of the big, beautiful eyes looking up at me when they placed her in my arms. She made me a mommy. Her eyes were wide and it seemed like she was seeing more of me than I have ever seen of me. My baby girl was perfect.

my daughter-at-6-months-old-looking-up
Looking-at-my daughter-right-after-she-is-born

The First Sign

The first sign of just how special my daughter really is, was the complication with the umbilical cord. We found out after I had delivered that the cord was small and that it had a knot in it. If she had somehow managed to tighten the cord during her 9 month stay in my womb, she would have died. If it had pulled tight during delivery, she could have died. But somehow, through all of that, she survived.

Survival

She survived during a very rough postpartum for me. Our challenging stay in China would have been enough to rattle the calmest of babies, yet she survived.

I got really sick when she was just two and a half months old (bronchitis, tonsillitis, a viral infection and the flu). My temperature was 104 and I finally had to an IV with antibiotics to knock out the infection. Yet somehow, she never got sick. Not one time during the China trip did she get sick.

We rode in taxis without seat belts or car seats (because they didn’t have them) on what looked like some of the most dangerous roads we’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. Granted, we were observing with our Western eyes.

She has shown her resiliency time and time again, proving to me that she is here on earth to bring light to those in darkness.

waiting-at-a-bus-stop-with-my daughter

Helping her Brother

Grayson, has not been as easy-going as his sister was. Perhaps it is because he was not forced into a life of nomadic venturing from the very beginning. He gets very upset when he cannot go to sleep on his bed, our bed or someone else’s bed.

If we are out and about and he is having a hard time, Siena will grab his hand and say, “It’s okay.” She’ll give him her favorite blanket and her favorite baby. If I need her to, she will run and grab his pacifier so that he will have something to suck on. She wants to help her baby brother to be happy.

my daughter-holding-her-brothers-hand

Helping her Mommy

About a month ago, I got the flu after she did. She had thrown up, been miserable and then of course, it was my turn.

I was laying on the couch, perpetually letting Daniel Tiger occupy the screen so that I would have to get up as little as possible.

At some point, Siena came over and patted my hand and then climbed up with me. She snuggled next to me, grabbed my arm, put it on herself and held my hand to make me feel better.

my daughter-holding-her-mommy's-hand
My daughter-at-6-months-old

What I See

Every day she is learning. She creates new things, comes up with new words, or impresses me with her actions as she learns to be a good person.

One of the things she absolutely loves to do, is be a mama. She tries to do everything I do, so I have to watch what I do sometimes. I have to send her out of the room before I trim my bangs… because we all know what could happen if she found scissors and decided she wanted to be like mama.

She puts her baby and bunnies to bed. She tries to feed Grayson. Her favorite thing to wear when mama wears boots, is her boots that match. She likes to sit in the sink while I get ready and pretend to put lotion on her face while I’m getting ready. She loves to wear a backpack and get ready to go because I have a diaper bag backpack that goes everywhere with us. Our baby girl is a Mama in training.

Siena loves music. She dances, tries to play the piano and sings along when her mama is singing at the top of her lungs. She laughs when she tries new things at the thrill of doing something new. My daughter is the sweetest.

She is Human

She gets angry, throws tantrums and tries to kick the cat. My daughter is imperfect, but her human nature is not ever going dissolve her worth.

my daughter-sleeping-as-a-newborn

Rarity in Vision

It is rare that someone gets the opportunity to see just how special someone is. I think that is the role of a parent. I doubt anyone will see as much as I, her intrinsic value. She has overcome so much already and she is only two years old.

I can already see her doing so much. One day she’ll light the world. She is going to accomplish so much and become so much. I can't wait to be a witness to it. Even now, there are so many people who want to talk to her because she is lighting up their day. My daughter is an ambassador of light and one day, everyone else will see it too.

My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

I have seen many articles that my friends have shared about love. Five things your man will do if he’s the one! How a real man treats women, etc. And then of course various articles about what to do better in relationships. Each of these serve their purpose. Of course, a man should treat a woman well (see here). The couple should naturally return each other’s bid (see here).  But I wanted to focus on something that is often overlooked. The fact of the matter is that I am married to an imperfect husband. 

Social Media Praise Danger

My imperfect husband is amazing in so many ways. I often heap on the praise when I wish to publicly wish him Happy Birthday, or really when I mention anything about him on social media. Because I sincerely want people to know how incredible he is, I make sure they see his best side. And I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do this.

There is a danger to this, however, for those who take in these public displays of social media affection at face value. It’s very easy to look around at all of the people portraying these perfect relationships and assume that everyone else gets what love is about. Then you might look at your own situation with despair, whether you are single or are in an imperfect relationship of your own. I am sure we can all see the imperfections in our spouse, in our relationship and perhaps in ourselves. But it is very rare to see an honest depiction of a real relationship from other people.

imperfect husband-&-wife-kissing-in-front-of-temple

The Beginning

I married my imperfect husband, Austin in 2012. We were in our mid-twenties and a little dazed with love. Our relationship hadn’t been all sunshine and roses though. We had had our fair share of disagreements, heartbreak and moments when it seemed like it was never going to work.

A couple of months after we started dating, I sat on a little bench with him outside of my apartment and broke up with him. And the exact phrase I used was that I didn’t feel like this was a fairytale. Isn’t it supposed to be a fairytale? Wasn’t I supposed to get swept away? My poor boyfriend left broken and bewildered.

Words can’t convey the despair that followed that decision for me. I felt like a black hole was sucking me in and I would never emerge again. Happiness had been sucked from my being and I broke down into a sobbing mess. I was having an anxiety attack, which was not completely unusual; I have had them before. In fact, anxiety was part of the reason I had decided to break up with him in the first place. But this attack felt different and I soon realized that I had made the wrong decision.

imperfect husband-and-wife-on-opposite-ends-of-a-bench
imperfect husband-in-the-forefront-of-the-picture

Let’s Get Real

Three days later, I all but got down on my knees to beg him to go out with me again. He said he needed some time to think about it. I backed off and he later came around and said he wanted to go on a drive. We drove up to the top of a mountain and talked.

We had the first half of the talk that I was always terrified I would one day have to have with someone that I intended on marrying. This is the “Let’s Get Real” talk. In an act of bravery unrivaled by any suitors who had come before, my imperfect husband shed light on his weaknesses and flaws. He kicked down the wall of his dating persona and let me see who he is even when he was at his worst.

I didn’t say much. The process of him sharing his imperfections had bristled my own conscience to the memory of my own weaknesses and flaws. But, that night I wasn’t ready to share those with him. I was merely in a state of shock, because I hadn’t expected this kind of sincerity and honesty. When he dropped me off at my apartment, he explained, “I want to get back together with you, but I need you to know the good and the bad of me so you can choose whether you want to be together.”

Let’s Get Real Forever

That night I did a lot of processing and basically came to the conclusion that if he was willing to share with me, I could share with him. The next day we went on another drive and I took my turn.

Over the next few months we began shedding the secrets we had been hiding for years by sharing them with each other. And for the rest of our lives we will continue to share the secrets of the present that would poison our marriage if we let them linger in the shadows.

Imperfect-Wife-standing-in-front-of-imperfect husband

The Most Significant Night of My Life

I will be forever grateful for the courage that my imperfect husband demonstrated that night. He set our relationship on a course of honesty and openness. It has taken so much practice to stay that way, and we are still working at it today but I cannot express the significance of that night enough.

My husband frequently attributes our communicative success to my honesty. And while he is correct in saying that I don’t hesitate to share, that has not always been the case. Austin is the one who took the first step into the dark and let me see all of himself without having any idea of what the repercussion would be. He risked everything and that was the only way the was able to gain everything.

Imperfect husband-and-wife-coming-out-of-the-temple

The Continual Journey of Overcoming

As aware as we are of our own imperfections and shortcomings, that does not stop us from having them. I am frequently quick to judge and my husband can be quick to anger. Those two things do not go well together. I can be a bit careless in my actions and my husband can be a bit regimented. We often butt heads on those issues and just cannot see how the other can think or act so differently.

We have some imperfections that are similar and are therefore magnified because we both have the tendency to act the same way. Austin and I like to have nice things and it is hard to tell each other no when an expensive nicety presents itself to us. Sometimes we like to be lazy and the last thing we want to do is work, clean the house or socialize. So, of course we are lazy together!

imperfect husband-kissing-his-imperfect-wife-on-bench

Our Imperfections Make Us Perfect Together

I have an imperfect husband and he has an imperfect wife. And here is the point that we like to try and forget. I am going to have an imperfect husband for the rest of my life! He will not be constantly doting on me. He won’t always remember to help with the dishes. The sweaty socks that he kicks off after work will probably find their way into the living room in the future. There will probably still be times where he snaps because he is so HANGRY. And that is so great! It is really a relief, because it means that he or she will not hold you to a perfect standard.

An even harder point to remember is that he is going to have an imperfect wife for the rest of his life! I will not always keep the house clean. There will be times when I jump to conclusions about his intentions and rant and rave inside my head. I won’t remember to put the camera away when I’m done or I’ll leave my disgusting hair in the corner of the shower until he can’t stand it anymore and cleans it up. And there will probably still be times when I angrily throw the covers towards him when I get up to go feed the baby, even though I know he is unconscious and unaware of the cyclone surrounding him.

My imperfect husband and his imperfect wife are perfectly suited to be together forever. He makes me a better person every day and I hope I do the same for him.

Love is an Equation

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love. It’s that simple. Perhaps it is easier to think about how this works with your children.

I was pregnant for 9 months for each child I have. So, so far that means I have been pregnant for 18 months. Bleh. I hate being pregnant. I get so big, I feel nauseous most of the time, I feel pain, I’m so uncomfortable and then my reward is that I get to push a human out of me at the end? That’s the sacrifice part.

But I didn’t feel the love until I realized how grateful I was for my baby.

And then I see my little angel baby and I can’t believe that it belongs to me. I can’t believe that I get to be his or her mommy. What a blessing! What a miracle!

I am so in love.

The sacrifice doesn’t stop. I keep cleaning up after them, getting spit up on, pooped on and basically providing all of their needs and wants. I keep working.

Which is why the next part is eternally important.

I don’t always feel the love when I am doing that.

Then I hold them close, think about the dangers that are out there and I am so grateful that they are still my babies. I’m so amazed that they are in my life.

I am still so in love.

Possessing BOTH is Essential

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love

I try to do things that I know will make Austin happy, even if they are not things that I want to do. Every day I do the dishes, literally the worst job in the whole world, fold the laundry, stay home with the kids, make food, and plan trips. I sacrificed a career.

I can forget love when I am only sacrificing all the time.

So, I am grateful for the times when I get to snuggle him at night, when I see him come home safely from another very busy day of work. He is such a great daddy and I am grateful that as soon as he gets home, he spends time with our kids. I am forever grateful that he is mine and that he asked me to marry him.

I will always feel love, no matter the sacrifices I have made.

The Importance of Gratitude

All I have to do when I am sacrificing and not feeling gratitude is remember that I am lucky just to have the people for whom I am sacrificing. There are some people who never get married. There are those who have been divorced. My kids are miracles because I know some people don’t get to experience that. Three of my four grandparents have passed on already and it makes me that much more grateful for the one who is still living and for the two new ones I have inherited from Austin.

imperfect husband-and-wife-standing-in-front-of-the-temple

Strive for an Imperfect Marriage

I love my imperfect husband. I love my imperfect kids. The best thing about imperfection is I know that my husband loves his imperfect wife and my kids love their imperfect mom.

We are the most amazing imperfect family I could ever ask for.

Share how Amazing your Imperfect Husband is in the Comments Below!

For more info on how we make it work, you can read about the best advice I received from my Grandpa before he died. 

Our amazing wedding photographer can be visited here!

 

5 Mom Moments That Were NOT Funny at the Time

Mom Moments = Memories

Mom Moments may find us as soon as we see that we are going to become mommies. Three of the ones I will share with you today occurred while I was pregnant with my first child. The other two are ones that happened within her first 4 months of life. You cannot have too many Mom Moments because those are the memories you talk about until you die.

Passed Out

I was only four months pregnant when I had one of my first Mom Moments. We had spent all day shooting a wedding, that night I had walked a midnight 5K with my two sisters and then we had had to spend the whole night packing up our apartment to move. The next day, we had somehow managed to get everything out of our apartment.

I had ended up without a car, stuck at the apartment with just me, the cat and the litterbox. All the furniture was gone and I was exhausted. Finally, I laid on the ground and immediately fell asleep. Less than ten minutes later, my cat let out these long mournful cries like I had never heard before. I got the distinct impression that he had literally thought that I had died. As soon as I moved and called to him he came over and plopped next to me and demanded to be comforted.

Me&My-Sisters-before-the-5K-during-one-of-my-Mom Moments
Selfie-on-My-Birthday-to-Get-Oil-Changed-Before- the road trip of one of My-Mom Moments

Pit Stop in the Canyon

The second of my Mom Moments: The day after my birthday, we were driving and I was pregnant. I had had some bad sushi (all cooked fish) that morning and was already prone to morning sickness. We were driving out in the middle of nowhere to get to a family reunion. The road was on the side of the mountain and on the left side of the narrow road there was a cliff and on the right side of the road, a wall.

My nausea kept building and building. I told Austin that I had to throw up, I couldn’t hold it in. I looked for something, anything to catch the vomit and found a grocery bag. Barely opening the bag in time, vomit spewed from my mouth.

I quickly realized that my grocery bag had holes in it. “Austin, there’re holes in this thing!”

He was already pulling over in the first tiny alcove he could see in the canyon wall. I hadn’t even noticed that he had already rolled the windows down. Apparently the fumes from the vomit had been immediate and it was all Austin could do to keep driving and not throw up himself. “Get that out of the car!”

I am not proud of us that day. We definitely littered. We left that grocery bag full of vomit on the side of the road and I still hope that no one has found it.

A Memory Lapse

Mom Moments #3 - I was driving and Austin was giving me directions on how to get somewhere. He said, “K, now turn left at the next stop sign.”

I nodded and silently took note. I pulled up to the intersection, stopped at the stop sign and went straight.

Austin stared at me in shock. “You didn’t hear me?”

“What?”

“I literally just told you to turn left at the next stop sign.”

I started laughing. “I’m so sorry. I seriously forgot.” I could suddenly remember him telling me, but not a second after he told me to turn, I had already forgotten. He was in disbelief.

Jennifer-at-the-Steering-Wheel,-representing-one-of-her-Mom Moments
hotel-room-in-china-location-of-one-of-my-mom moments

No Boundaries

Mom Moments like this are ones that few people in America will get to experience this viscerally. Six weeks after Siena was born, we moved to China for the next 5 months. During our stay there, our parents came out to visit and we stayed in a hotel. One evening, I was inside of our room breastfeeding and a maid comes in to prepare it for the nighttime.

She puts the candies, adds the towels, oh and makes sure to peak down my cover at my nursing baby. That’s right, she walked all the way around the bed, came over to me, grabbed the top of my cover and looked down at my naked breast and my hungry child.

Although she was more assertive than other Chinese women, she was definitely not the first or the last to attempt such a thing so while shocked, I was not surprised.

The Great Wall Disaster

The Great Wall Disaster

My Mom Moments will make you feel better about any Mom Moment you may have, especially this one. We obviously had to see the Great Wall when we were in China with our parents. We put little Siena in our “Joey” (front pack) and went off on our grand adventure. The Wall was quite a ways from our hotel and we realized as we got off the Wall that Siena had pooped.

I looked in my backpack for a diaper and with crippling fear realized I did not have another one. It would be at least a couple of hours before we would be able to get back to the hotel and that included a miserable, hot bus ride.

We pulled out what we did have in the diaper bag and realized we had a “cloth diaper” that we had been using as spit up cloths.

Then I spotted a Subway. I wasn’t sure how I was going to communicate with the server there as no one speaks English. I walk in and play a game of pantomime and charades until she finally hands me a plastic bag, big enough for a 6 inch sub.

We took Siena to the main reception area for people wanting to go on the wall where there were some chairs. I tore holes in the corners of the bag and we made a makeshift diaper for her. She hated it at first, but you know what? It held up. She peed on the way back and her clothes stayed dry.

My-poor-trusting-baby-during-one-of-my-mom moments
My-poor-trusting-baby-during-one-of-my-mom moments

Share Your Mom Moments!

Do you have a Mom Moment that can stand the test of time? Please share it in the comments below. It will make the rest of us feel better about our own Mom Moments. 

If you want to read about an epic FAIL of many Mom Moments about potty training, check out my blog post: Potty Training, Poop Everywhere Edition

Want to see more embarrassing Mom Moments? Check out Embarrassing Mom Stories

Potty Training, Poop Everywhere Edition

toddler-girl-sitting-on-the-potty-in-the-bathroom-for- potty training

All parents have a Potty Training Story so allow me to add mine to the mix. That way, if you are perusing the internet, late one night because you are desperate for validation and understanding, perhaps you will come across my blog and know YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Potty Training has got to be one of the most feared and dreaded rites of passage that parents will get the pleasure of enduring. I assume that once you have passed the threshold, you will emerge pee-stained and poop-smudged, but victorious. You have slain the beast! The mammoth that blocked your way to that time-honored badge of parenthood has now been defeated. You are a champion among us mere mortals.

I have held no such honor.

In the Beginning

My naivety at the beginning was laughable. Potty training would be a breeze! After all, everyone has to go through it at some point, right? I read all the books, searched the internet and I thought that I would come through the dark abyss faster than most parents.

"I've got this," I would think to myself.

My daughter was exhibiting all of the tell tale signs.

She would grab her diaper after she had urinated or defecated and say, "potty!" Check!

She was uncomfortable in a wet diaper if she wore it too long. Check!

She could take off her own pants and her own diaper. Check!

She showed an interest in the potty. Check!

The only check that eluded me was the staying dry at night. But we could just potty train her during the day and she could still wear her diaper at night. So, that was an unnecessary check.

Approaching the Beast

We had so many well-intentioned talks. We bought her some panties, explained what the potty was for, showed her how to use it, let her sit on it at night before she went to bed and when she woke up in the morning she would sit on it. This was going to be a piece of cake!

Things started out smoothly. The first day, only one accident! She went to the potty every time. We applauded her, cheered for her and gave her a treat. She was ecstatic. We were ecstatic. Our wallets that finance her diapers were ecstatic.

The second day the potty training had a couple of setbacks. More accidents, but nothing we couldn't overcome.

Maybe We Weren’t So Smart After All

The third day, things took a turn for the worse. She was acting like she had to go potty and of course, the doorbell rings at this exact moment. I left Siena in the living room with the potty and go answer the door. I signed for a package and went back to find Siena standing in the middle of the living room saying, "Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh!"

She hadn't ever said uh-oh before when she had an accident. I followed her line of sight and gasped. A BIG GIANT POOP LOG was on our living room carpet! So many questions rushed through my mind. How had something that size even fit inside of her? How did she manage to poop in the middle of the room like that? What words do I use to explain that this is not okay without it sounding like she had gotten in trouble.

toddler-staring-at-her-poop-on-the-living-room-floor-during- potty training
piece-of-poop-on-living-room-floor-during-the-course-of potty training

The Mania Continues

The next day, another poop fiasco. This time the poop was in her bedroom and my husband was the lucky one to find the present bestowed upon us by the potty training gods.

A third poop visitor came in the subsequent days. Okay, this wasn't working. She didn't like pooping on the potty. We knew when she had to poop, but she wouldn't sit on the potty. Instead she would go off somewhere else and poop on the floor. Was the floor a superior receptacle for catching poop?

Change of Tactics

We tried a lot of things to adjust our potty training regimen.

We put a diaper on her after the poop as a form of consequence. She didn't care.

We had her wear panties to at least try to catch the poop. This resulted in more pee pee accidents.

We quit rewarding her for pee pee in the potty and encouraged the poop more. Indifference.

We tried pull ups. She didn't love the pull-ups and forgot to take them off to go potty.

toddler-sitting-on-potty-in-living-room-for potty training

The Toddler will Adapt Too

Our potty training antics were not lost on our daughter. She started changing her tactics too. I'm still not sure if it was an effort to try and become better at potty training or if it was to stunt the progress so she could keep being a baby. Regardless, we were at a loss after the new developments.

This may get to be TMI. You might have to shield your sensitive eyes if the poop talk is too much for you. One of my other tactics was to show her the poop in the toilet so she could see, "Look, poo poo goes in the potty!"

At this point, she was back in diapers unless she decided she wanted to go potty. And since she could strip down and take off her diaper (and she did on many occasions, even without trying to use the potty) it worked some of the time. We were exasperated and so we had almost given up hope, but we still continued to teach her about the potty.

She clearly had an interest after all.

The Straw that Broke the Camels Back

Every time she would poop, she started squatting and going, "potty, potty, potty".

I said to my husband that maybe she was ready now because she was recognizing when she needed to poop.

Then she ran off to the bathroom. I didn't want to follow her too closely, because she seemed to like to poop in private...I should have followed her immediately.

I finally followed her to the bathroom. To my dismay, she had taken all of her clothes off, thrown her poopy diaper inside of the big potty and sat on the little potty (covering it in feces), peed and was now unrolling all of the toilet paper to try and clean herself.

It took me a good 15 minutes to get everything cleaned up.

Beating a Dead Horse

My husband was once watching the kids while I was off doing something productive, but really just provided me an excuse to get out of the house. He apparently fell asleep on the couch while watching Siena.

During his slumber, the unthinkable had happened. He awoke to Siena placing a dirty diaper on top of him and a poopy bum to catch before she sat on something. After cleaning her up, his new quest was to find the poop that had fallen out of the discarded diaper somewhere in the house.

He must have been successful, because I have not found any other poops.

Guests

The potty training had pretty much come to a halt. We didn't bring it up. If she wanted to do it, fine. We would indulge her whim begrudgingly.

Then, one morning, I had a couple of ladies from my church in my house. We were chatting in the living room and suddenly Siena runs off, shouting, "potty!"

Oh well, if she comes back naked, I'll put some clothes on her.

We kept chatting and then I realized that Siena had still not come back yet. I heard her clanking around in the potty and suddenly felt a bowling ball drop into my stomach.... it was happening again.

I ran to the bathroom and her poop and diaper were still on the floor at least but her bum and potty were both covered in smeared poop.

I quickly cleaned everything up while my poor guests tried to help. One of these ladies had also just seen me cleaning up one of my sons blowouts in her own home. She literally has been witness to me cleaning poop off of both of my naked children. Oh, the things she must think.

Then, I washed my hands, put Siena's diaper and clothes back on and we got back to visiting.

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The Consequences of My Actions

After the ladies left, I put Siena down for her nap. When she woke up, she suddenly had Pink Eye! What the freak?! We had just spent the last month and a half sick with colds, flu, pink eye, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, every sickness that this winter had felt the need to inflict upon us and now she was sick again.

Bowling ball drop. I had forgotten to wash her hands. I didn't know she had probably tried to pick up her poop and throw it in the potty like she had done the last time.

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The End of Potty Training

That was it. We're done! No more potty training. I refuse to do it. My daughter will wear diapers for the rest of her life. My son will never have a chance to experience what underwear feels like.

Ever since that day, the potty has been locked under the sink. Perhaps I will forget one day and my daughter will be able to coerce me to pull it out again, but for now, our potty training days are over. And we will not be lured to the battlefield again. The beast has slain us and we will play dead for as long as possible.

Share Your Own!

Have a crazy potty training story? Please share in the comments below so the rest of us can feel a little bit better about our own defeating stories.

For another potty training horror story, check out this lady's fun blog:

http://thishappymom.com/authenticity-2/confessions/potty-training-horror-story

One Way to Spend Time with Your Toddler & Still Get Things Done Around the House

I will be explaining to you how to spend time with your toddler, but first a little preface to what the events typically look like leading up to it. It's hard to know how to keep a toddler engaged. It's even more taxing trying to figure out how to spend time with your toddler when their interest level peaks after just a couple of minutes and all you want to be doing is something else.

The Go-To Entertainer

When we are bored in the winter, it is a constant battle of 'how much television am I going to let my kids watch today?' I go back and forth with myself. I have all this stuff I need to get done. We're trying to save money, so I need to cook more meals so we don't go out to eat. The whole house is a disaster and I have students coming over for piano lessons. The laundry has literally not been done in weeks. The clean clothes are wrinkling in piles in and around the laundry baskets that have been tucked at the foot of our bed. Showering is a must... And it's too cold to go outside! If I am going to get stuff done, I've got to find a way to keep my kid engaged.

The easiest solution is, of course, television. If my daughter has her eyes locked on the TV, she won't chuck a doll at Grayson's head. And let's be honest, we watch TV at our house all the time. Every day. I would be lying if I said that I did not just let Netflix of Amazon prime run through episodes like a perpetually energetic hamster on a wheel. It's fine if you judge me.

Most of the time, at some point during the day, I decide, okay, we've watched too much TV. Jennifer, it's time to spend time with your toddler and baby... or at least de-zombify your children.

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The Meltdown.

Tantrum. The end of the world. Life is over as we know it because Wa-Wa (Sofia the First) and Grr (Daniel Tiger) are no longer welcome in our home. After the initial earwax curdling screaming, the negotiations begin. "Mama, wa-wa?"

"No. Mommy said no."

"Grr?" she asks.

"No, sorry."

"Choo choo? (nursery rhymes set to music)" Now she's getting more desperate.

"Siena, no more show."

Another crying session. "Show!"

I finish up whatever task I was working on while she tries to figure out what to do with herself. Then, the inevitable happens. If she can't be watching her show, then mama can't be doing whatever she wants to be doing. Mama is now my daughter's new favorite toy.

The Point of Decision – Mommy Leash vs. Ignoring Your Kids

Siena has now learned that in order to get what she want, she needs to communicate it. This is great, most of the time... One of the not so great aspects is what I call 'the Mommy Leash". The Mommy Leash is when your child grabs your hand in an attempt to do whatever it is that they want you to do. This is aggravating for Mommy and Toddler.

I now have to decide if I'm going to engage with 'the Mommy Leash' or if I am going to pull my hand away from her and say something like, "Mama's busy right now."

I hate both options. On the one hand, I don't really like being forced to do something, even if it is by my toddler. I have watched her try and do this to other toddlers too and they don't like it either. So, I should at least resist for their benefit so she learns that that is not an effective way to get what she wants. But if I don't come, she will continue to pull and pull until we go back to the last phase and start all over again at tantrum.

The second option of brushing her off, makes me feel like I am ignoring my child or not being attentive enough. Should I be playing with her as frequently as she wants me to? Does it make me a bad mom if I don't? I don't think so.

So, I'm stuck.

spend-time-with-your-toddler-doing-what-she-wants-to-do-sometimes

Secret Option #3

So, while you are caught in the dilemma of Mommy Leash or Ignoring Kids, instead I like to try and remember the alternate dilemma. This dilemma is Mommy Leash vs Mommy Led. I remove my hand from my daughter's sticky grip and ask her if she would like to do something with me. This can be anything. It could be helping me unload the dishwasher, pick up toys, color in her coloring book, play with bubbles, build a block, read a book, sweep up the crumbs, help me vacuum, give her brother a kiss or cook a meal. LITERALLY ANYTHING.

If your toddler is trying the Mommy Leash on you, they probably are trying to communicate that they just want to do what you are doing. They want to be with Mama. Sometimes, though, they just want mama to entertain them. The distinction is easy to determine for my daughter. I usually know if she actually wants to spend time with me by asking, "Do you want to cuddle with me?"

If she says yes, I know she really wants her mama.

"No," is usually the response I get, which means, she just wants someone to play with and she wants them to do her idea. Now I can choose whether I want to do what she wants me to do or not.

Spend Time with Your Toddler – Siena Style

If I agree to her idea, I know what I am in for. My daughter's favorite thing to do, is pretend to be the mommy. Frequently, she will announce, "Night-night!" Then she will take my hand and try to force me to bed. (Which is funny, because that is never how we get her into bed.) She pulls and pulls and if I acquiesce, she will 'read' me a book, put me in her bed, give me her baby and blankie, turn on the 'shishis' (the projector fish night light), shut the door and leave me in her room.

If I try to get out of bed, she puts me back in bed and closes the door. Typically not the best way to spend time with your toddler when you are not even in the same room.

Regardless, sometimes I play her games with her, especially if I want to just lazily play on my phone in her bed after she closes the door. But a lot of times, I don't want to be put to bed multiple times throughout the day.

It is okay to say no and still spend time with your toddler. It is also okay to say "no, thank you. I really need to finish this right now". Or "No thank you. I don't want to do that."

I am no expert, because my kids are still young, but I think being honest with them will pay off later.

The Most Common Responses

I am learning more and more that my daughter is very opinionated about what she does and does not want to do. But, she is also very open to new ideas. Sometimes I will suggest a long list of things and she will say, "no... no... no... no..." and I am flabbergasted when she says no to the one thing I thought she would certainly say yes to.

But more often than not, when I suggest something she will get excited about a new idea or a new experience and say "okay!" It could be work, but she has seen me do it and so she wants to give it a try.

My toddler will try anything, except different foods sometimes. But if she has seen mama do it, she wants in! And if she has seen dada do it, even better!

I have learned that just by asking your toddler if wants he to do what you are doing, you get to spend time with your toddler AND get stuff done.

My daughter really likes to help. And even if it takes me twice as long, it's a lot more fun... or memorable... doing it with her.

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The Result

The best thing when you spend time with your toddler this way, is that even though they may only stay engaged for a couple of minutes, they learn that mama is doing something important. If I let my daughter help me with chores, she may lose interest, or I may have to ask her to let mommy finish. But even when she disengages a couple of minutes later, she doesn't try to take me with her. Now she understands that I need to finish what I am doing before I can hang out with her.

It's almost like she has been let in on the secret. Now she is a part of the task and understands its significance. Spend time with your toddler, even just for a couple of minutes or explain to them why you can't, because they're smart. They know your sincere intentions.

Spend Time with Your Toddler and Love it!

Taking a little bit of time to change the situation from Mommy Leash to Mommy Led will help you relax, have open communication with your toddler and will help you to spend time with your toddler.

We still watch a lot of TV. It's hard to find stuff to do in the winter, but I treasure the times when I am brave enough to push the big red power button on my remote and really BE with my kids.

I love spending time with Siena. She is getting to the age where she does or says things that catch me by surprise and have me laughing more every day. She knows how to help me unload the dishwasher, she will sit on the stools by the counter and snack while I cook, she tries to entice me away to one of her fun games on a daily basis and on the rare occasion, she will let me snuggle with her if I put on her show. My baby girl is my buddy and I love it!

For fun indoor ideas that require more preparation than I am usually willing to do, check out this Stay at Home Mom's sweet blog!

Toddler Activities