Mommy as a Human

Battle with PPD: Won

After I had Miss C in June 2015, I was hit by paralyzing postpartum depression. I was angry all the time, mentally and physically exhausted, and honestly didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I wanted to run away from everything and everyone and not be in charge of a superglue baby who needed me every second and a toddler girl who was feeling a bit displaced by her baby sister.

One night, I had been trying to get Miss C to bed for literally hours. She would not stop screaming and crying. She was about 7 or 8 months old, and I just hit a breaking point.

I walked out of my bedroom and handed the baby to my husband. I was sobbing. I choked out “I don’t want to be a mom anymore.”

I grabbed my keys, purse, and phone, ignored my husband’s bewildered questions, and I got in my car. I turned on some music and put the volume all the way up and hit the freeway headed south. I sobbed as I drove, feeling like a horrible mother, a horrible human being, and an awful wife.

I just drove and cried and sang along incomprehensibly to my music through my sobs.

I pulled off the freeway when I saw signs for the airport. I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t really “escape my life” by getting on a plane, but the airport is a good hour away from my house and I figured I needed to stop and regroup.

I parked in the cell phone lot and texted my best friend, who lives all the way across the country. I broke down. I confessed I had been super depressed and that I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I told her that I resented my baby because I couldn’t get any sleep and I couldn’t give my toddler the attention she needed. I told her that if I had money I would be getting on a flight to South Carolina. I told her everything. I told her I didn’t care if I died, and some days, I wanted to.

She didn’t judge me. She listened. She talked about what we would have done if I’d actually gotten on a plane and the Target run we would have had to make to buy me a toothbrush and some clothes.

As we talked, I watched planes take off and land and taxi around and people parking and then leaving as whoever they were there to pick up arrived.

She gently joked with me until she made me smile, and then she made me promise I would make an appointment with my doctor to get some help. She helped me realize that PPD was making me feel that way, and that I needed help and that I really did love my kids and things would get better for me.

She was right. I needed help, and I got it.

I was put on an antidepressant. I met with my doctor every few weeks to make sure I was doing okay. And when I unexpectedly ended up pregnant just a couple weeks after starting my antidepressant, my doctor and midwife both spoke to me about the risk of me going off my medication versus the benefit and let me make a decision and supported my decision.

I truly believe that my friend and my doctor saved my life. I do not believe I would have survived without my friend pushing me to get help, and without the help my doctor gave me. Postpartum depression is very real and can be deadly if it goes untreated.

Over the last few weeks, with help and guidance from the same doctor, I have successfully weaned off of my antidepressant. I may end up needing something for anxiety, I’m not sure. But right now, I’m doing okay.

I asked my doctor if we could try weaning me off the meds because I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight while on them – a side effect of the meds I was on was an increase in appetite, and I literally felt hungry all the time.

Now, I feel hungry until I eat and then I don’t feel hungry anymore! It’s weird after three years of literally feeling hungry all day long.

So far, me being off the meds has been going well, but I’m checking in with my doctor often to make sure all is well. I’ve actually had a bit more energy since I’m off the meds – they made me feel a bit sleepy a lot of the time. I laugh more, too, so I wonder if the antidepressants had made me feel a bit robotic or if that’s just my imagination.

Either way, I’m glad to be feeling more like myself without the assistance of medication. We will see how long this lasts.

Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out for help if you are feeling sad, depressed, or anxious. It could save your life.

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Bedtime Battles

If you had asked me before I became a mom what the most frustrating part of parenting was, I probably wouldn’t have had a good guess. Something general like, “back talk” or “not listening.”

I would have been wrong, in any case. Because in the last 5+ years, the Most Frustrating Thing Award has gone to bedtime. Every. Single. Time.

When B was 10 months old and started fighting sleep. When she was 14 months old and thought bedtime was playtime. When she was 2 and decided that she didn’t really need to stay in bed (or even her bedroom) just because we said so.

When C was born…right up until now, at three. She has always fought sleep like it was her arch nemesis.

And E…she goes back and forth between being easy and being a nightmare to get to sleep. Currently, she is sleeping in her toddler bed. It’s taken a couple of weeks to make that transition, but, fingers crossed and knock on wood, I think we’ve got it down.

B and C share a room. We don’t have a choice, and when E is old enough to hold her own with her big sisters, she’ll go in that room as well. Trying to get a 5 and a half-year old and a 3 year old to LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE, SETTLE DOWN, and JUST GO TO SLEEP is a freakin’ nightmare, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

If one wants the little lamp on, the other one screams they want it off. This role can change from day-to-day. If one wants the fan on high, the other wants it on low. If one wants the closet door shut, the other one insists on opening it. They want to share a bed tonight (for five minutes, until they change their mind), NO they DO NOT WANT THEIR SISTER IN THEIR BED EVER!

Entire toy bins get dumped on the floor. I go back and forth between their room and the couch so often, I should be tracking my steps. If the oldest gets up to go to the bathroom, the freshly potty trained 3 year old insists she has to go to. This wouldn’t be a problem if the oldest didn’t try to convince us she needs to go to the bathroom every ten to fifteen minutes all night long.

I tried putting a baby gate in their doorway to discourage so many trips to the bathroom. I figured, if they had to have us come let them out, maybe that would show them that it’s not a game.

Oy.

Biggest mistake ever.

Granted, it’s only been two nights, but now, they open the door and “whisper shout” across the apartment at us (because they know if they wake up their sister in the room next to theirs, they’re busted). “MOMMY. BATHROOM.” “MOMMY. COOKIE.” “MOMMY. WATER.”

I swear, it’s like a revolving door at Grand Central Station here.

Husband and I sat down today and figured out a solid bedtime routine that will go into effect tomorrow. We decided that we will stick to it like glue for the next three weeks and see if bedtime improves. I REALLY hope it does, because by the time they finally fall asleep (lately sometime after 11PM and hopefully before 1AM), I feel as if I’ve run a marathon and my hair is always sticking up like I’ve stuck my finger in a socket.

They know how to push all my buttons. Rawr.

So, new routine –

Dinner around 5:30.

Cleanup after dinner and put toys away.

Baths around 7:00.

Brush teeth.

Story.

Song.

In bed with lights out by 8:00.

 

Hopefully, that’ll work. Because I’m exhausted.

 

 

Mommy as a Human

Life is Nuts

This blog has been on my mind lately. I’m not sure why, since I can’t seem to commit to writing on any sort of schedule. Maybe it’s because being a mom has been such a struggle lately.

Not because of my kids. Kids are crazy, that’s part of life. Just because I’ve got a lot going on in my brain.

I’m trying to help my five year old navigate the big emotions that come with having friends in a Pre-Kindergarten class. She is very competitive, and that’s causing her some stress with her (also competitive) friends. I’m also trying to prepare her for kindergarten in September, and keep my patience through her “that’s not fair” stage.

I’m trying to help my two year old prepare for starting preschool in the fall, and I’m trying to get the whole potty training thing going for her.

My almost 17 month old is going through a hitting/scratching/biting phase.

I’ve got a mountain of laundry. We moved in February and still aren’t unpacked. My husband injured his foot/ankle during said move and has an MRI scheduled soon to try to figure out what the heck is going on with it. He is in a walking boot and using a cane. They’ve done X-rays and it’s not broken, but a regular sprain should have healed by now. He isn’t very mobile so the household chores he would normally be helping with have fallen to me.

The girls are getting used to their uncle living with us, and he’s getting used to living with them, so adjustments on all sides.

I went back to work in October and then ended up leaving in February, for a variety of reasons. So we weren’t really adjusted to me being back and then I was home again and the kids are readjusting to that. My five year old keeps asking me in a worried voice if I “have to leave her again” to “go to work and not be home for her bedtime.”

I’ve started looking at going back to school. We are paying off debt and trying to get financially stable. I’ve started joining some committees and getting more involved with the preschool – and next year there will be two schools to be involved with, in two separate districts, since the preschool is in one and kindergarten is in another. I’m sure that will present a whole new list of challenges.

It’s just life. It’s nothing special. But when I think about it I start to feel overwhelmed and my patience grows thin and then parenting gets harder.

I’m hoping once we finally get everything unpacked and I make it through the mountain of laundry and figure out whether I’ll actually be able to go back to school and we know what’s wrong with my husband’s leg…maybe I can breathe for a minute.

I have two play dates scheduled for the kids this week, and I’m thinking about braving the Children’s Museum and the library to get the kids out of the house and doing something different.

I’ve also been thinking about doing some more work on my blog and maybe sharing recipes or fun stuff I’ve done with the kids. We shall see.

Until next time…hopefully sooner than ten months from now…

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One Step At A Time

I came into the bedroom to give Chelsea her bottle of milk. She still wakes up most nights around 1:00 to have a drink. She drank her milk and handed me her bottle, and then crawled into my lap (I had put her on my bed and sat next to her, that’s what she prefers at night).  She put her head on my shoulder, wrapped her arm around me, grabbed my shirt, and went immediately back to sleep. I’m still sitting here, ten minutes later enjoying the weight of her here on my shoulder. Smelling her sweet baby smell. Kissing her sweet little face.

I realized today that she doesn’t want to snuggle unless she’s sleepy anymore. I realized that although she wants constant reassurance that I’m still here, she’s more interested in chasing Briana around these days than cuddling with mama for very long.

She’s growing and changing so quickly. And I thought I was ready this time, that I knew how fast it would go. I was wrong. It goes so much more quickly when you have two to chase after and divide your attention between. And when you’re pregnant as well, everything goes on fast forward.

I realized that in 14 short weeks, she won’t be my youngest anymore. That I will have three babies to look after and love and chase and teach and giggle with and marvel over. That I will no longer have enough hands to keep hold of everyone when I am by myself. That someone will always be left feeling as if they are being cheated of my attention.

But earlier, Chelsea fell, and I was all the way across the apartment, and she cried out that heartbreaking “I really hurt myself” cry, and before I could get to her, Briana was there.

“It’s okay Chelsea, I’ve got you. Sissy is here. Did you get an ouchie? Do you need a Bandaid? Let me help you up.”

Chelsea stopped crying and let Bri help her up. Bri kissed her forehead and held her hand and said “Let’s be careful so you don’t fall, okay?”

And my eyes welled up a little bit as Chelsea giggled and started walking along with Briana, not even looking around to see where I had gone.

And just like that, another stage passes. Just like that, they’re a second, minute, hour older. Every time you blink. Every time you glance away. Every time you sleep, wake up, and start another long and exhausting day.

Just like that they’re one step further away from you, one step closer to independence. They’re learning to lean on each other. They’re forming a friendship, and it’s the kind only siblings can have. It’s amazing and beautiful.

And it means they need me just a little less. And that’s beautiful, too. And also a little heartbreaking. And a little scary.

Some days the thought of having another baby is completely overwhelming. I feel as if I can barely handle two. My PPD is under much better control now, but there are still days that I feel like I’m drowning.

But then, on days like today, when Bri steps in and helps her sister, even with something small. When I hear her tell Chelsea not to do something so she won’t get hurt. When she sees me getting frustrated because the kids aren’t cooperating and says “I’m sorry mama. I’m ready to listen.”

On days like today, I know I will figure it out. That David will be there to help me. That David’s parents and my family and our friends will always be willing to reach out and jump in with extra hands when I need them.

On days like today, I know I will be okay. On days like today, I hold onto the fact that all my babies are still little, and still need me, but that their growing independence will be what helps us transition from a family of four to a family of five.

One step at a time. For them, and for me. For all of us.

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Success

Sometimes, I let life get to me. The struggle of keeping my head above water on days when my PTSD and PPD make just getting out of bed hard, and I have two little people who need me to do nearly everything for them. And it’s not just the struggle to get up and take care of them, but the struggle to be present for them in the way they deserve.

Today, there was a big mix of failures and successes. I am learning that just because I failed at some parts of the day does not mean the whole day was a waste, or that I’m a failure. I’m learning, slowly, to move past the rough moments and enjoy the good ones, even on the days when there are more rough moments than good.

If you had asked me a month ago if I succeeded or failed at a day like today, I would have said, without hesitation, that I failed. I raised my voice more than once. I lost patience many times. There were timeouts and there were a couple yelling matches with my three year old when I forgot to be the adult.

But I also fed the kids three real meals and two non-packaged snacks today. And we had a mini-dance party in my room after I changed the baby’s diaper. Briana and I spent twenty minutes looking at a Mickey Mouse book that is similar to a “Where’s Waldo” book…a find it sort of book, and the look on her face the first time she found something in the sea of objects on the page without my help was pure magic. We used straws for magic wands and had a “magic fight” that mostly involved a lot of giggling and saying “hex, hex, unhex!” Bri went through three outfits today before settling on the perfect dress. The baby shared her graham cracker with me, and giggled like crazy with every bite I took.

I used to feel like all the moments I stumbled as a parent far outweighed the moments when I got it right. But at the end of the day, after I rock my snugly, sleepy, happy 1 year old baby to sleep and get her settled into her crib, and walk across the apartment to my 3 and a half year old’s room to say goodnight, she doesn’t want to talk about the moments we slipped up. She wants to snuggle up to me while I play a song for her on my phone and we sing about taking on the world. She wants me to read her a story and give her a kiss and “Please, Mommy, lay with me just a little bit longer? I need your attention. Your attention makes me happy. How about we read a story?”

Kids are great at moving past the negative and holding onto the good stuff. Somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to do that. My kids are reminding me how. Every day.

Something happened at my nephew’s birthday party on Sunday with Briana that keeps making me smile, because it shows me that, even though I may forget how to “bounce back” myself sometimes, I’m doing an okay job at teaching her how to handle her emotions in a more healthy and constructive way than I do.

Her cousin got a cool ride-in truck for his birthday, but was a little leery of getting in. So they had Bri jump in…well…she’s three. So of course she didn’t want to jump out! I went over and lifted her up out of the truck and told her it was someone else’s turn and set her down in the dining room. She was facing away from me, so I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell from my mom’s face that it was a sad one, and before I could get her turned around to talk to her, she had taken off for her cousin’s room.

I followed her and found her face down on the floor, hands covering her little eyes, crying. I sat down next to her and scooped her into my lap and she put her head on my shoulder and I asked her to tell me what was wrong. Between big sobs, she said that she wanted the truck, and she was sad that it wasn’t her turn. She was sad that it wasn’t her birthday.

I reminded her of her own birthday party, when she got lots of presents, and asked her how she would have felt if someone took one of her presents and wouldn’t let her have a turn. Her crying got quieter, and she said “I wouldn’t like that. And that’s his truck, huh? And I had a turn and now it’s his turn?” I agreed with her. She still sounded pretty teary, but she wiped her eyes and said in a trembling sort of voice, “Mommy, will you just play with me for a minute? I feel sad.”

So we sat there on the floor and played with some of her cousin’s toys, for maybe three minutes. She jabbered at me about this toy and that toy, and how they were her cousin’s toys but we could take a turn since he wasn’t using them. And then she popped to her feet and said “I feel a little better now. Thanks, Mommy.” And just like that, the rough moment was a distant memory, and she was ready to fly off and play with her cousins again, while I trailed along after her down the hall.

My three year old is better at moving past things than I am…my kids are going to teach me through me teaching them. How crazy is that? Life is crazy. But life is also good. And today, I succeeded at life.

One step, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. And each success matters, and the moments I mess up don’t take away from the moments I get it right.

I’m learning. Slower than my three year old maybe, but I’m learning.

 

 

Mommy as a Human, Uncategorized

I’m Still Here

I have started and deleted probably ten blogs in the past few weeks. I haven’t been able to focus. Postpartum depression is really no joke. I can’t sleep (hence blogging at 2AM), I am either eating all day long or not eating until five in the evening, and I am either being perfectly patient with my kids or going off my rocker with them…there seems to be no in between for my brain right now. I’m either happy or so furious I can barely speak, or will be suddenly overcome with tears over something relatively inconsequential. Mixing my PPD with my PTSD and sleep deprivation is…interesting, to say the least.

In short, I’m a hot mess.

I’m blogging about this because more people need to be honest about the struggles with any and all types of mental illness. And postpartum depression, while temporary, is a type of mental illness. The stigma surrounding it needs to end, so that people will seek help sooner.

I thought I had it handled a few months back…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

These last few weeks in particular, I have felt like I was drowning in sadness. I walked around with this sadness that I could literally feel in my chest, like a twenty pound weight. Like someone had put a stone inside my rib cage to weigh me down. I could paste on a smile when I left the house, and try to play with my kids, and might even manage a genuine laugh here and there…but it was just these tiny flares of light in this deep, dark, black hole I had been sucked into. I haven’t felt this kind of depression since I was about 15 years old, and it was not a feeling that I had missed.

I knew that, having suffered from depression before, I was more prone to getting PPD. And I got it with my older daughter, but it passed fairly quickly and I didn’t really seek help. I just got over it. So this time, I thought I could just get over it, too. Take a few supplements, keep myself busy, it would pass.

Wrong. So wrong.

Have you ever felt like a passenger in your own body? Like, you’re watching yourself slip further and further down into this depressive state, and the sane and rational part of you is going “HEY! You’re falling! Get help!” But the part of you that’s falling is going “I’ve totally got this.”

And then one day soon, the sane and rational part of you is watching the insane part of you yell at your three year old over something stupid or have a panic attack driving down the freeway or sobbing on the floor of the shower while the water runs cold because you’ve been in there so long. The insane part of you picks fights with people and says mean things to friends and pretty soon, the insane part is sitting in the living room in her pajamas at four in the afternoon with all the curtains closed, letting the kids watch Daniel Tiger for the entire day, surviving off of your daughter’s goldfish crackers because, while you always make food for the kids, it seems like too much effort to make any for yourself.

And meanwhile, the sane part of you is screaming “I freaking told you to go get help! Now we are stuck down here in this hole and you are too depressed to get help for being depressed.”

I saw a meme the other day on Facebook that described depression perfectly. It said something like “What’s depression like? Depression is like drowning…only you can see everyone around you breathing.” You feel invisible. No one can see how much you’re struggling. If you had cancer or pneumonia or a broken arm, people would know you were sick, and they would want to help. But everyone believes the lie you have pasted on your face, and no one knows you can’t breathe. You share the happy moments on Facebook, the good pictures. It’s an instant life filter.

And then you hit rock bottom. You tell your friend you want to run away or die, and you don’t care which.

And you didn’t even realize you were feeling that way until the words come out of your mouth, and then you burst into tears, because you’re a mom, and you’re not supposed to think things like that, and it makes you feel like a terrible person and an awful mother, and you just feel…defeated. So defeated.

But somehow, putting it into words, realizing where you are at, lets the sane part of you reach the insane part. You pick up the phone, and you call to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You start talking to everyone.

You know that some people are going to think you’re doing it for attention, and in a way, they’re right, but not for the reasons they think. You’re doing it for attention, because you don’t want to disappear without anyone noticing. You don’t want to do anything you’ll regret later. You don’t want them to go, six months from now, “Whatever happened to…” You don’t want to be invisible anymore.

And, funny thing.

The good friends don’t judge you.

The good friends suddenly blow up your phone with text messages like “I had no idea you were struggling so much. What can I do?” Or “I want to get you out of the house, so lets take the kids out tomorrow.” Or “Lets have coffee next week.” One person sent me a text that said “I love you. I’m here for you. Don’t ever get so lost in your mind that you forget how many people feel the same way I do. You’re a good friend to so many people…let them be good friends to you, too.”

My favorite was this message from my best friend that lives out of state.

“Like a shattered mirror
You’re beautiful,
Refracting the world around you in a dozen different ways.
You are perfectly imperfect, a chaotic storm of deepest reds and blues.
Your heart is huge, your emotions deeper than the oceans.
I don’t even have the words for you.
You’re more than I can describe.
You’re amazing.
Beautiful.
A Disney freak to the highest degree, and loyal to a fault.
You carry the world on your shoulders, and pick yourself up when you shatter.
Stronger than you know, just remember, that I see you.
I know you.
And you are wonderful.”

I love the line, “You…pick yourself up when you shatter.”

I have talked to more people and been invited to more places in the last week than I have been in probably the last year put together. And I’m not blaming the people doing the inviting. It’s hard to get a depressed friend to want to do things with you, and even when you manage to make plans with them, there will be a lot of last minute cancellations. I’ve canceled a lot of plans in the last 9 months especially. I’m just mentioning it because it surprised me how many people cared enough to issue an invitation.

Just…if you have a friend with depression (whether PPD or otherwise), please don’t give up. Keep making plans. If they don’t want to go out, go to their house to watch bad movies and eat popcorn. Keep trying. Because the fact that you care enough about them to love them even when they aren’t necessarily a bundle of laughs means the absolute world to them. I promise.

My appointment is on Tuesday.

I am very nervous about it.

But I keep reminding myself, it’s a step toward feeling better. I want to feel like myself again.

I’ve been writing in my journal again every day. There have been three days this week where all I could bring myself to write were three words…but they’re pretty important.

“I’m still here.”

 

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No More Momster

I had planned on writing another blog much sooner than this, but having two kids really does take some getting used to.

Briana is slowly starting to adjust to not being the only child in the house. She never acted out towards the baby, but she sure as heck let me know she wasn’t happy. There were many days and nights where I ended up in tears, she was acting so angry, and only toward me (not so much toward her daddy). There were at least two “I HATE YOU” statements thrown my way, and both times I had to walk away so she wouldn’t see me cry. But that was a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like she’s getting a lot more affectionate toward me again, especially in the last two weeks. I’m getting hugs and kisses again, hearing “I love you mommy” at least once an hour, and loving every single second of it. I missed her so much. For a while there, I felt like (excuse the drama) I had lost her forever. She was here at home, but so emotionally closed off to me that I felt like my daughter had been taken from me.

But, setting aside the melodramatic statements about lost children, she’s opening up again, and her temper tantrums are slowly losing their intensity and going back to normal not-getting-her-way tantrums instead of her-world-is-falling-apart tantrums. She is showing true affection for her sister and loves to help out in any way she can…which is sometimes not actually particularly helpful. Like two days ago when Chelsea was peacefully sleeping in her Rock n Play Sleeper and Briana decided to “help” by shoving the pacifier into the baby’s mouth despite her very vocal protests. Her heart was in the right place, anyway. Or today when she kept coming over to wipe the baby’s face even though, after the first time, there were no bubbles or spit up to be seen. And Miss Briana is always watching to see if Chelsea has thrown up so she can let me know, “Mommy, she got sick!”

I know that seems like a random thing to say, but Chelsea has acid reflux, which is a new thing as a parent for me to deal with. You’d think that the second time around with a newborn I would feel more at ease, but it turns out not all newborns are alike, and some of them have medical problems that your other child didn’t. Who knew, right? Babies as individuals! What a concept! (Sarcasm…)

This reflux thing is actually sort of scary for me. She doesn’t just do baby “spit-up” that just sort of dribbles out of her mouth and down her front. It’s explosive. It comes out of her mouth with force, and it comes out of her nose, and it blocks her airway and she can’t breathe. We can’t lay her down flat to sleep. I was really bummed about that at first, because I had wanted to co-sleep with her, was really looking forward to having her in the little by-your-side co-sleeper we bought to go in between us on the bed.

But the reality is, you lay this kid flat and you’re inviting disaster. She chokes, and it sounds absolutely terrifying. And when she’s laying flat she can’t clear her airway on her own. I have to sit her up and sometimes hold her on my arm, parallel to the floor, facing down, so she can cough it out. Even in her Rock n Play (which she’s sleeping in because it keeps her on an incline, which we were instructed to do by her pediatrician), I have been woken up many times by the sound of her choking. Sunday morning, I heard her start to choke, rolled out of bed and took two quick steps, sat her up, and watched what looked like an entire feeds worth of milk pour out of her like a faucet. Then I had to listen to her heartbreaking little wail of pain. That’s the worst part, knowing that it’s hurting them.

Sunday night, I literally did not sleep. She was choking and gasping for air every couple of minutes, throwing up and coughing while she slept. I was afraid I would sleep too deeply and not hear her choke, so I stayed up, listening for her. Several times I considered taking her to Children’s Hospital, just putting her in the car seat and going. But she never turned blue, she was getting air, she just sounded awful. So I waited it out and called the doctor as soon as the office opened and took her in today.

She has been on medication for her reflux for a couple of weeks now, and it hadn’t done much for her. The first day or so it seemed like a miracle drug, and then it just stopped doing anything. If anything, it almost seemed worse. After last night, I was scared. Getting her into her car seat, she threw up three times. On the fifteen minute drive to the doctor, she threw up twice more. I knew she was okay, because she was screaming bloody murder, so I kept driving. I just wanted the doctor to tell me she was okay.

It turns out, my little baby Chelsea caught the cold her sister and I had over the last few days. It didn’t even occur to me she might be sick, because she throws up so often anyway. The doc said that her reflux was being exacerbated by the extra mucous and stuff created by the little cold. Briana pretty much only had a runny nose. I had a runny nose and sore throat. I’m mostly over my cold after two days, and Bri is mostly over hers as well. So I’m hoping Chelsea gets over it quickly. When I told the doctor that Chelsea’s reflux hadn’t improved on the meds even before the cold, she upped her dose to three times a day instead of two and said we’d check back in four weeks. She is concerned about the slow weight gain caused by the reflux, so we have to go back for a weight check next week.

Before the reflux started up, Chelsea was in the 81st percentile for weight. Now she’s in the 58th. She is still gaining, but it’s much slower than they want her to be gaining. It’s frustrating and scary, because I know she’s getting enough to eat. They sent me to a lactation consultant to be sure the weight loss wasn’t a feeding issue (I’m breastfeeding). They did a before-eating and after-eating weight check for Chelsea while we were there, and my gorgeous girl ate 3.5ozs in less than ten minutes. The acid reflux is definitely the culprit of the slow weight gain, and it makes me sad.

I know there are children out there who have it so much worse than Chelsea, and I’m not talking about all this to get attention or anything. It’s just new to me. I’m still figuring it all out and learning what helps and what doesn’t. I’ve cut dairy from my diet in an effort to make my breast milk easier for her to digest. If her acid reflux hasn’t significantly improved in the next two or three weeks I’m going to cut soy from my diet as well. (Goodbye Starbucks!) Cutting dairy was rough, as I love cheese and sour cream and milk and…dairy. Cutting soy will be difficult if it comes to that because soy is in A LOT of food. It’s even in some brands of canned tuna! (Who knew, right?) But anyway, moving on to the next subject…

Other than the reflux, Chelsea is a smiling, giggling, happy little baby. She thinks it’s funny when I sing nonsense words and bob my head around in front of her. She loves watching her sister, and loves being in her bouncy seat. Before the reflux got bad, she liked laying on her playmat and had even rolled from her front to her back starting at six weeks…I’m still not convinced she did it on purpose, but it was still cool to see. 🙂 She’s always so alert and looks like she’s just doing her very best to have the world figured out before she turns 3 months old. When she’s not smiling she gets this really serious expression on her face with one raised eyebrow, like “Are you sure about that, mom? ‘Cause I’m not.” It’s cute.

She fits right into our little family. She looks just like her daddy, except for the dimple in her chin. Her smile lights up her whole face. Briana loves her to pieces. So do I, and so does her daddy. Adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn has been every bit as difficult as I thought it would be, and in some ways more difficult, but now that we’re starting to adjust, I love it. I need about ten more hands, but I still love it. I love how Briana giggles when her sister smiles, and I love that she wants so much to help me with the baby. I love that she likes sitting on the floor next to Chelsea’s bouncy seat and share her toys with the baby, or tell her everything is going to be alright, or tell me “Mommy, Chelsea needs you, she got sick.” (I don’t love that she gets sick, but I love that Briana tells me and cares about her sister.)

I love breastfeeding Chelsea. I love how she settles in and eats with this death grip on my shirt (or sometimes my skin) as if she’s afraid I’ll take the food source away. I love it when she stops nursing to smile up at me. This part of being a mom is new. I pumped and put my milk in a bottle for Briana. She was never able to latch properly, even after having her tongue tie corrected. But Chelsea and I figured it out (after fixing her tongue tie), and now it’s just so…not easy. We aren’t to “easy” yet. But…it’s so comfortable, feels so natural. It is getting easier every day, though, and I’m growing more confident every day. I am really enjoying this part of being a mom. It’s fun to have a new experience even as  a second time mom. 🙂

Speaking of experience, some things are definitely easier as a second time mom. I deciphered her cries much sooner. And when she is seemingly crying for no reason, it’s almost always because she’s tired, and a few rocks from mama, holding her just the way she likes, and this kids eyes are half closed in seconds. I know how to soothe her if she was startled, I know how to settle her in to eat if she has worked herself up, and, sadly, I know what to do when she’s hurting (because of the reflux). It feels good to know what I’m doing this time around. It is always nice not to feel lost.

After those first few chaotic weeks where I was constantly on the verge of (or actually crying) hysterical tears, wanting to pull my hair out, and getting virtually no sleep…I feel like we’re settling in. We’re getting into a routine. I feel like a mom instead of an angry and sleep deprived momster. I am working on not yelling so much (fell off that not-yelling wagon for a while), and watching my tone, since I live with a two and a half year old copy-cat. (I have a…colorful…vocabulary. It isn’t pretty hearing that vocabulary come out of my little one’s mouth.)

Another thing I’ve learned the second time around is to allow others to help me. When I was sick and David had plans on Sunday, I let my aunt and uncle take the girls for the afternoon. I don’t think I would have done that with Bri, I would have felt too guilty and not been able to rest. This time I felt no guilt at all, except for forgetting to kiss Bri goodbye before she got into the car. I can’t be perfect and let go of all guilt, but at least I let them help me, right? 🙂

Figuring out how to juggle two little ones with two very different sets of needs (toddler vs newborn – very very different!), has been an interesting journey these past few weeks. But I’m hanging in there.

I am still learning.

I am still here.

I am enough.

I am Mommy.

And “Mommy” is a pretty awesome thing to be.