oversharing (and irony)

We live in a world of over-sharing. I realize that this is coming from a girl who has a personal blog and therefore may not be qualified to talk on this, but hear me out. Because I am also writing this article to myself.

Your hamburger makes it’s way onto Facebook before it makes it’s way into your mouth. You’ve posted more baby pictures of your child than you’ve actually seen of yourself (guilty). And everyone knows what kind of night you had last night. Shouldn’t have that last martini. Hashtag SoMuchFunTho.

Why do we do this? This question has been addressed by many, and it’s a complicated answer, but I think it has a lot to do with validation. If your life looks good from the outside (or the internet), and people see it, then your life must be pretty good, right? What is it about “likes” that makes us tick? Why do we need people to see what we’re doing in order to have a good time doing it? Could we try enjoying our life just for what it is…our maybe-not-so-glamourous, but beautiful, imperfect life that is ours to live?

Too often I see people hanging out together, at a restaurant or bar, or anywhere really, and rather than talking to each other, they’re looking at screens. I always thought it an ironic possibility that if they weren’t physically with the person they were with, maybe they would actually be communicating with that person on a screen from a distance. But since they are physically together, they are texting someone else, or telling the world that they are hanging out with so-and-so.

I try not to, but I’ve definitely been guilty of looking at my phone instead of the person I’m with, and I often feel a pang of guilt, but not more so than I do when I’m with my daughter. Sometimes I think she wonders why her mother is looking at this little screen, and I feel the worst when I can tell she just wants me to pay attention to her. I worry that I’ll look back and feel I missed some of her precious baby moments in favor of an online life that doesn’t really matter in the long run.

Why is it so hard to be exactly and fully where we are at that moment?  Be with your friends, and enjoy them for who they are. Look at that beautiful sky, and appreciate it because God made it for you to appreciate. In trying to document our life, we end up missing out on some of it. We miss the nuances – the sway of the trees, the old couple walking hand-in-hand, our baby girl discovering how squishy cheese can be. And yet sometimes we miss the big things too. And sometimes, worst case scenario, accidents happen because phones were watched instead of surroundings.

That article you’re reading can wait (unless it’s this one, of course). That funny video will be there later. Your followers likely won’t be on the edge of their seats wondering what you’re up to. (Unless you have super devoted followers, which I don’t, so maybe I’d think differently if I did. Who knows?)

So why, when something good or something bad happens to us, do we feel the need to tell the world about it? The other thing, I think, is that we just want to be known. We want to feel like we matter in the big picture, and this is more easily attainable than it’s ever been, thanks to social media and blogs. Everyone wants their corner of the internet (forgive me for using that phrase), and online fame is seemingly only a few hundred followers away. We sometimes put forth better, or even different version of ourselves because we think it will help us gain that following.

Thing is, you do matter. Your life matters and counts for a lot, followers or no followers. You’re worth much more than “likes” on the internet. You don’t need to try to be something you’re not. You were made to be a specific, special human that no one else can be. To quote the inimitable Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, “Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.” Social media can be great for connecting or staying in touch with friends, but too often it hogs our time, or crushes our spirits, or gets in the way of our actual lives and true passions.

So in closing, I leave you with three questions to ask before that next post. (Once again, myself included.)

1. What am I trying to accomplish with this post?

2. Will this make someone feel bad about themselves or left out?

3. Will I regret this post later?

That’s it. Thanks for being you, and for reading this.

the early months / depression

Depression is a funny thing. And by funny, I mean really not funny.

Because when you’re in it, it feels so real. It is real. You feel like life is so hopeless and you lose your motivation to do anything. You lose your enjoyment of the small joys in life (and the big joys too, I guess). You don’t care about what food you eat, or if you see your friends, or what TV show you watch…if you even want to watch TV. You just don’t want to do anything, but you have to, because a tiny human is depending on you.

And by you, I mean me. Let’s just cut to the chase here. We all knew that’s who I was talking about.

I experienced a dose of postpartum depression. It could have been much worse, but it was there. There were moments when I would catch a glimpse of my former self, brief periods of happiness when I was out with friends or, let’s be honest, having a glass or two of wine. But most of the time I just slogged through life, just making it through each day, only to do it all again the next day – and that in itself was daunting.

The thing is, that though depression is real, oftentimes the things you’re depressed about aren’t real. Your life can be beautiful, you can have a beautiful baby girl and a loving husband, supportive friends and family, all your needs met, and you can’t even appreciate it. (Whoops, I’m doing it again. I mean me.) Life can feel hopeless when it’s really not. It’s very crippling.

I remember when Simona was somewhere around 4 or 5 months, and I was still having bouts of crying  and some of those same feelings of hopelessness. I thought, how can this still be postpartum stuff? Doesn’t that go away within the first couple months?

I guess not. I think it can last even longer than I struggled with it, which was about 5 months or so. Maybe even 6. I still have my days, even now at 9 months. But maybe that’s not related…maybe those are my own issues. Who knows? I have problems.

We considered getting help, but I felt embarrassed and like something was wrong with me, and didn’t want to share my feelings with a doctor. I felt like I should surely be able to conquer this…to just snap out of it. But as Joseph kindly phrased, “If your leg was broken, you wouldn’t feel embarrassed about going to the doctor. This is a real thing.”

Depression is real, but it isn’t really you. It may feel like you, it may feel like your new reality, but it isn’t. I remember a particularly bad night, feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and Joseph telling me, “I know you’re in there somewhere.” That was hope in itself to me, because he was recognizing and letting me know that this wasn’t truly who I was.

I’m so thankful for my loving and supportive husband. Without him, I think I would have just been curled up in a corner somewhere, crying, with Simona somewhere nearby, crying too because her mom is a nutcase. Joseph was patient with me, and kind, as he always is. And so was God. And my mom. And now I feel like I’m making an Oscar acceptance speech. I’d also like to thank chocolate.

It’s a little odd writing these things now, especially since I feel pretty much like myself again. But I think it’s important to be honest and to share what I went through, just to prove, as Joseph kept (keeps?) telling me, that it will get better. You may be in a really dark phase, but it will pass. That’s just a fact of life. You’ll probably even get to learn from and it and grow too, or something like that.

the early months / napping

It was a rough first few months.

The ever-growing dark circles under my eyes could’ve told you that though. No amount of concealer could hide the lost hours of sleep and countless crying spells. I even have a really good concealer…at least according to the lady at Ulta. I wonder if she has kids. I wonder if I had mentioned motherhood if she would have said, “Oh, we have something for that,” and led me to a secret back room with Magic Makeup for Moms. Made by elves.

Anyway, it was a trying time, in many ways. I had(have) a good baby though. A beautiful, healthy, happy girl with a strong taste for short naps. She’s 7 months old now, and still, the majority of her naps are 45 minutes long. That’s how it’s always been. I think she may be starting to grow out of it now. We’ll see. We’ll hope and we’ll see.

I fought it for a long time. I tried everything I could think of to make her naps longer. Was she up too long? Put her down earlier. Up too short? Keep her up longer. Not stimulated enough? Take her on walks, dance for her, make her lift weights.

I read so much about it that I finally just gave up reading about it. It’s too tiring. You can find anything you want to find out if you look it up on the internets. You’ll find arguments from both camps on any subject and you can basically just pick what you want to do anyway.

The other thing about researching everything is that every baby is different. You can find a bunch of info, but no other baby is your baby. So your baby isn’t doing x, y and z yet? That’s okay. Nobody else can tell you exactly what works for him or her. Parenting is so much trial and error. You figure out what you can and can’t do, and you survive. There will always be babies and parents that are doing “better” in your eyes, and there will always be someone with a more difficult situation than yours.

So I just accepted the short naps. It took months, but I accepted them. That’s just Simona’s way. And I can’t necessarily change it. But I can change my outlook.

So I learned to become a fierce multi-tasker. Silver lining, people. Those 45 minutes sure fly by though, when you’re trying to do laundry/respond to emails/clean up the kitchen/take a shower/watch Price is Right.

I’m also learning that these times take patience. A baby is not a machine, as my husband likes to remind me. You can do everything ‘right’ and your baby still doesn’t respond as you’d hoped. Babies are constantly changing and growing and adapting. Just when you think you figured something out they change again. This is both frustrating and beautiful. You wouldn’t want your baby to always remain a baby (or would you?). So if you’re in a rough patch, just keep going. It will pass. Your baby will learn and grow, and you will too, in the process. That’s the bonus. Or maybe…that’s the purpose.

playtime

Have you ever watched a baby play?

Simona (provided she’s in a good mood) can play with one toy for like 20-30 minutes. She stares at it, chews on it, shakes it, finds the tag (she’s obsessed with tags) and sucks on it. Some of her favorite toys are the simplest things, like a polka-dot burp cloth or an empty wrapper. In fact, sometimes when I’m moving her to the next activity, I feel bad because I worry I’ll transfer my poor attention span to her when she was perfectly happy where she was.

The other day as I changed her diaper and she played with her little Pooh bear, I looked at her to see her grinning at the thing with a smile bigger than I think I’ve ever smiled about anything. She shrieked in delight as she moved him to her mouth to suck on his eyes. Poor Pooh.

But it’s so amazing to me that we’re born like that, finding so much joy in the simplest things. Simona doesn’t need to be facebooking while she eats lunch and watches TV and paints her nails. Where did this hyper-multi-tasking come in? It makes me sad that I have a hard time doing one thing at a time, and really focusing on it.

The simplest things in life are truly the best things. A home-cooked meal with good friends, a long walk on a summer evening, a good book and a cup of tea…these are the things that really enrich us. As much as social media “scratches an itch”, it’s like this compulsion that doesn’t usually make us feel better anyway, but it’s hard to stop.

I want to take a lesson from the babies of the world: focus on one thing at a time, and truly enjoy that thing. Be present in the moment and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Obsess over the tag on your little blue elephant toy or stare out the window at nothing. Just don’t pee your pants.


motivational monday

Yesterday was kind of a blah day.

(And you thought this was motivational monday…)

We were all tired, one of us was jet-lagged, the other one kind of depressed, and the smallest one a tad bit grumpy (still cute though). A frustrating trip to get breakfast and some snippy words about a work project were the icing on the cake at my pity party, and I was left feeling disconnected from my husband and questioning my decisions as a mother.

I felt better after a nap and after we reconnected over Portillos for dinner, and as Joseph retired early for the night, I stumbled upon this article that was just perfect. It starts by suggesting that you have more bad days than good ones. Sounds encouraging, right? It really is. Take a look! If we never had bad days, could we fully appreciate the good ones?

a birth story – part 2

If you haven’t yet, I suggest reading part 1 first. (P.S. The wedding was the 24th, I had said it was the 26th.)

That night after the wedding, I felt my first mild contractions. They weren’t bad and were pretty far apart, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy about feeling pain. I didn’t even wake my husband, cause I didn’t want to keep him up if this wasn’t the real thing. And sure enough, come Sunday morning, they had stopped. Joseph and I decided to head home that morning though, just in case, rather than hanging out for the day with family in Madison. As we drove South on the expressway, I once again tried to will contractions to happen. I’ve discovered that doesn’t work.

We hung out together all day Sunday, just the two of us relaxing and trying to not think too much about the pressure we felt to have that baby before 8PM on Monday.* We were still up around midnight (normal for us at the time) when I felt more contractions. This time stronger, and closer together. Joseph whipped out the stopwatch (or smartphone, whatever) and began the timing. We took a walk outside, excited through the pain. I was having contractions of about a minute each, five minutes apart, for an hour when we called the doctor. That’s when they say you should call (the 5/1/1 rule), but I didn’t think it was that bad yet.

When the doctor found out the situation he told Joseph to take me in right away. What? Already? I had wanted to labor mostly at home, but…doctor’s orders. So we grabbed our bag and went, calling Joseph’s sister and my mom (our chosen labor helpers) as we whirled away.

As I sat in triage (where they measure you and ask you a bunch of personal questions), Joseph’s sister came and marveled at the fact that I was still talking and even smiling sometimes, as every time she’d been in that room she wasn’t able to answer any questions. I started to think, ‘hey, maybe I’m gonna be one of those lucky ladies who breezes through labor!’ That’s when they told me I was only like 2 centimeters dilated or something ridiculous like that, and they couldn’t admit me yet. I could either hang out around there or go home. I chose home.

We got home around 3AM and I had a few more contractions along with a snack and we decided to try to get some sleep. That was a silly idea because literally as I crawled into bed my water broke.

Again we made the calls, but this time I was able to labor at home for a few hours with the help of Joseph’s sister (what a champ). I ended up going to the hospital around 7AM when it got pretty bad. Since I had already gone to triage earlier that morning, I got to skip it and was whisked away to a room. That was nice, because at this point I could see how Joseph’s sister hadn’t been able to talk during her time in triage. I could also see that I was not going to be one of those aforementioned lucky ladies.**

I labored at the hospital for 6 hours (for a total of 13) before our sweet girl was born. It was kind of crazy how fast the time went even though it was so painful. You’d think it would go slow, but I think since my contractions were pretty close together the whole time I didn’t have much of a chance to clock-watch. Another crazy thing is that it’s hard to remember what the pain was even like and how terrible it must have been. I remember saying, right after she was born, “No wonder women forget labor pain. You’d have to in order to ever want to do that again.” But now it’s all getting foggy. I do remember yelling out a couple times and worrying about scaring or disturbing other mommies down the hall.***

I pushed for an hour (I didn’t have one of those movie-perfect two push deliveries) before she came. And then it was over, and the doctor was holding her and announcing, “It’s a boy!” Seriously, he said that. We were all shocked because they had told us girl the whole time. The shock lasted about 2 seconds before he corrected himself. “No, it’s a girl!” We’re still not sure if he was messing with us or if the cord was hanging just so.***

There she was, a perfect little bundle, and it was the most surreal thing. She was dark-haired and quiet. I couldn’t believe that the little human the doctor was holding had been in my tummy that whole time. It’s hard to explain. My first thoughts were relief and disbelief and my second ones were something about fingers and toes. But she was here, and beautiful.

Simona Myla was born at 1PM on August 26th, exactly 7 hours before I was supposed to be induced.**** And she waited until after the wedding, from which she had a window of 48 hours to make her appearance on her own. So I got to be at, and fully appreciate, my brother’s wedding. I had thought I wanted her out before then so I could bring her, but now I see that I would have been very preoccupied and tired, had I even made it there at all. (My expectations about what having a newborn was like were very skewed, but that’s another story for another time.) The timing really could not have been better. God’s plan is always perfect and always better than what we can dream up, and I remind myself of this story when I’m doubting or worrying or all caught up the way that I think things should go. I’m very thankful. The end (or the beginning).

And 6 months later:

 

*Looking back on it, maybe we should have spent all day sleeping, but how were we to know that our we had already had our last night of good sleep for quite a long, long time?

**While I wasn’t one of the rare women who breeze through labor with hardly a whimper, I feel very fortunate to have the labor story I did. I am not in any way complaining about how it happened, because I know that some women experience much worse and that mine was fairly average.

***Yeah, even in labor I’m a people pleaser.

****He is an excellent doctor. Really. No lie.

*****I know that not all induced labors are really that bad, and that there are women who have had good experiences with it. Unfortunately though, the stories that you hear, or at least the ones that stick with you, tend to be the negative ones.

a birth story- part 1

It was a warm summer night and we were on a walk. I loved our night walks, we’d often walk the mile to the main street in town and get ice cream or dinner. This walk was different though. I didn’t feel as relaxed as I normally did, couldn’t fully enjoy it because I was trying so hard to conjure up a contraction.

I was overdue, by a week. We had been trying every labor-inducing technique in the book (save for castor oil, which sounded disgusting) for a couple weeks at least. I wasn’t really uncomfortable, and wouldn’t have minded my belated baby except for the fact that my brother was getting married in less than a week and I needed to get that baby out by then. I couldn’t bear the idea of missing his wedding, which by the way was 2.5 hours away in Madison, where we had planned to stay for a few nights with all of the family.

I was due on the 11th of August and his wedding was the 24th. Plenty of time to get the baby out and come to the wedding, we thought. But as the days went by and nary a contraction (not even Braxton-Hicks) came to pass, I started to get a little anxious. I think we all did, except for Simona, who was perfectly happy where she was. (And God, who knew exactly what He was doing.) My doctor said we should schedule induction, so we scheduled for August 26th at 8PM.

By the time Tuesday the 20th came and went, we all started praying the opposite of what we’d been praying up until that point: that the baby would stay in until after the wedding. We got the okay from my doctor to go up to Madison, he assured us that if contractions started there, we’d have plenty of time to get back in time if we left right away. Most women have pretty long labors with their first child, he told us. (Super.) But we were happy to have his approval and so on Thursday I sat in the passenger seat as my husband drove North on the expressway. I had a stomachache, but that wasn’t going to stop us from going, and it also wasn’t stopping me from eating a big chocolate chip cookie as I talked to my sister on the phone about my pains.

Fast forward through the favor-making, family-bonding, girls-shopping-trip hours before the wedding (all so fun) and I had made it Saturday with my belly. I sat there for the beautiful wedding, not without tears, and marveled that I could be there to fully enjoy it. Once we got to the reception, I gave the okay to the baby that she could come out now. But she decided to stay in that night as I got down with my (big) bad self on the dance floor and had a general blast celebrating.


photobooth at the wedding

After the reception, I made sure the baby had gotten the message about coming out now. I really wanted her to arrive before my scheduled induction on the 26th. I’d heard terrible stories about induced labor, involving drugs and C-sections and many many hours. It has to happen sometimes, and I’m grateful for modern medicine, but it just wasn’t what I wanted. And now the clock was ticking. I had two days until then.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!

2014 goals

Goals (for life in general, not just this year)

by strawberrymoth on etsy

more reading…less screen time

more face-to-face…less facebook

more tea…less soda

more exercise…less sitting

more intentional about getting together with people…less waiting for others to organize

more counting blessings…less focusing on problems

more praying…less worrying

motivational monday

Monday is the day we all need a little extra push, isn’t it? I know I tend to want to sleep late, eat bowls of cereal and mosey around the internet. So when I stumbled across this article which articulates exactly how I’ve been feeling and emphasized exactly what I needed to hear, I could’ve cried. It’s pretty awesome and I think you should read it too.

And oddly enough, I had just scribbled the above phrase in my sketchbook like an hour before.