Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Breakdowns

In the last eight sleeps, only two have not involved being up for hours in the middle of the wee early night/morning. Each one of these disjointed sleeps eventually included a short “nap” before the rest of the house woke for the day, but I am here today to admit how much I am struggling as a result of all this and just how relative that lurking darkness in the seemingly fine, bright clouds in the sky feels to me. img_7753

Zombie jokes don’t even begin to describe the dark and ragey place my overtired but brain now seems to live. And while this is not new territory for me, especially this late in pregnancy, it is certainly unwelcome as it is making normal existence as a functional human being difficult, much less the challenge it is adding to parenting. Anything and everything my crew decides to throw at me right now feels huge and heavy and fit-inducing, for both them and me.

Like 7:50a.m.-we-need-to-be-out-the-door-just-tie-your-shoes meltdowns.

Like someone who learned (where? how? WHY?) the phrase, “Bye, Stupid!”

Like another someone who insists on sitting on my head as I try to take a PBS nap on the family room couch.

Like all the sass and attitude that I might normally be able to deflect or redirect, but that suddenly feels personal and like the epitome of reflection of how much I am sucking right now.

It’s all of these things and a dozen other little bumps in any given day that I’m not handling well. At all. I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m yelling. I’m crying. I’m the stereotypical wrung out mom (to-be) and the crap part is, I have absolutely no idea what I can do to turn it around, because try as I may have in the last 8+ years of baby growing, I still haven’t found the magic cure for taming the hormones that will 1) bring rest in order to 2) bring peace.

Now, I know that part of today’s particular struggles (that list from above? Yeah, that could be any given day in the last week-ish, but it was all this morning before noon) have been compounded not only by the lack of sleep but the excess of activity. I had a HUGE weekend with two major work events and a book club and normal church activities Sunday morning, and while that’s all good stuff, it meant I was moving from one to the next to the next to the next, fueled on adrenaline, coffee, and a Sunday afternoon power nap that I’m sure I should have been doing something productive around the house during, but AYFKM? My body and brain are SO. BEHIND.

Also not so helpful? Ben has conferences tonight, so after a not-great morning, I’m in charge of nighttime stuff that is normally not “mine” and I’m basically using this screen-time post-writing opportunity to officially offer a wild-flung hope and prayer that we all make it through without more yelling or more tears, from any of the parties involved. That actually sounds like I am asking for a miracle, but I guess a mama can dream, even if she can’t sleep.

And the moral of this post? Yep, there’s not one. Other than to say, for honesty’s sake, that Baby No.5 has landed me in the not-sleeping place far, FAR sooner than I would have liked and that, too, is worth documenting, in all of it’s weepy, very un-shiny glory because I know no mama alone, but the other worn-the-eff-out mamas need to know it, too: I see your dark circles, friend, and I know just how uneasily they are earned.

 

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On Definitions, Labels, and Learning.

During a lecture in grad school, one of my professors called me out by name during his class for being a (quiet) contrarian. It happened so long ago that I can’t recall his exact language, but it was something along the lines of,  “And then you’ll be saying something and can look at Jenni and know she is contradicting all of it.” And even though I don’t know if that’s precisely how he said it, I do know the first thought that went through my head was, “Me?! No, I’m not!” which pretty much proved his point right then and there.

The funny thing was, until that experience, in my 22+ years I naively assumed that I thought and believed pretty much like anyone else around me. It never occurred to me that someone might take me (well, actually my writing, as I’ve never been very outspoken in classes) as a force of contradiction. In the years since, however, this claim has stayed in the back of my brain, and it’s actually helped me in many ways.

For one, it’s good to know that I have my own voice and that it is worth sharing because yes, it might in fact differ from that of another person. Not that I have to strike out to change their thinking, but that giving my unique perspective is of value because it does indeed add to the conversation. For another, it has helped me – sort of – as a parent because now that I am raising at least one little contrarian of my own, I can find solace in knowing from where it comes, even if that doesn’t do much to help me actually deal with it in real life.

All of this is a very long-worded intro into the fact that as Ben and I are now completing the New Member classes at our new church, First Presbyterian (you guys, I still can’t spell that right on the first try) Church in Hastings, I’ve had some of these contrary student moments that have given me pause and caused me to reflect a bit.

At our first session last week, we were asked as part of our introduction to share what it means to us to be a Presbyterian, and y’all, I blanked. So much blanked that I said, “I don’t know” as that part of my introduction because beyond still not spelling it correctly, I couldn’t tell you what the word itself meant or where it came from, so how else could this contrarian answer but with a non-answer?

Fortunately, we did go over some church history and even the definition of the word “Presbyterian” (ha! no red squiggles!) which has to do with church governance and committees and such , and I walked away from the evening certainly knowing more, but also realizing that I knew more than I gave myself credit for when I first answered.

Another benefit of being contradictory in nature? You learn that you can contradict yourself even, and sometimes fairly soon after a statement’s been made.

You see, as I listened to the others in our group do their own introductions, I realized they were all touching on the very messages/themes that I’ve written about before when I’ve blogged about church, namely being the concepts of love and service. Love and service. It may have been the invitation of friends and the desire to have a church home for our family that initially brought us in the doors, but it is this particular church’s driving forces of love and service that kept us coming back and ultimately led us to become official members this summer. And not just lip-service, either, but actions and actual in-the-world service, which is where my heart lies, introverted and contradictory as it may also sometimes be. [Parenting side note: this too has come up more and more when I address my children because as much as their mama loves words, they have to know that actions matter, too, and often times, even more so than their words.]

In my defense, I was the very first person to share, after our pastor that is, and tired/pregnant mama brain + first-out-the-gate nerves perhaps got the best of me. I should also mention that one of the other questions we had to answer was about which Bible character we related to with a list of examples/qualities to help us, but I still totally pulled a “there aren’t enough women on this list and I’m not connecting with any of the men on here, either” for that one, so yeah….Sorry, Pastor G – there’s that whole contrarian thing again!

But after chewing on these questions for the last few days, and learning more and more about the larger church itself and the actual congregation here that we are now officially part of, I once again land at the conclusion that we are fortunate to be where we are in this community that lives not only by faith but also by love and service. This is the message, the work, and the spirit we want to surround our children with as they grow, and it is how we want to be in the world, too.

And, as I explained in an email to our pastor that he’s most likely not seen yet, but touches on many of these same points, this particular explanation would have been far too long to share with the New Members group (and thanks to my prenatal weepies, I doubt I would have gotten through it one piece anyway), but it is worth sharing here because where we go from here….how we love and serve as a family….well, that’s what it is all about and this is where I share those stories.

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Taken the Sunday in June when we joined the church! 

 

Soon? Wellllllll…..

Hey, there, friends! Greetings from the 3rd trimester and September! We’ve had an interesting start to the school year with a sick Harrison (for over a week and a half!) and other various oddities, but we’re now a week in which puts us past Truman’s 2nd birthday (Happy 2, Little Man!) and the 29 Week mark for me and Baby No.5. This 3rd trimester has decided to show up with some oddities of its own, which I’ll touch on here, but really this is a friendly little reminder that some words, when applied to pregnancy, are very, very relative.

First, the update: Holy Heartburn! Over the last weekend, my esophagus decided to burst into flames and for the life of me, I don’t know what’s going on. Diet? Trimester? Stress? All of the above?! Who knows. But for the first time, I am taking an OTC medicine for it because WOW. And OUCH.

Also OUCH? Well, I won’t go into specific details because it’s too much TMI for today, even for me, so instead I’ll just leave it at this: there is no way my body needs to be preparing to actually give birth 11 weeks out, so let’s just hope the system chills out a bit, shall we?

And about that 11 weeks….

Y’all, I still have 11 WEEKS to go. And much as I can’t control what comes out of the mouths of others, you can sure bet I am going to try to gently remind folks that while that might seem like soon to you (or them) it is NOT to me. I may not be counting the days yet, but 11 WEEKS currently feels like an incredibly long time to me, so as fast as I know it actually will go, I (and probably most pregnant women) would prefer not to hear it called “SOON.”

For me, that word is double-edged. While I’ve had moments of doing much better this go-round with body image, I’ve also had complete face palms and freak outs, so to suddenly have people using the S-word around me all the time makes me think they must think I look ready to pop. And you know what? Maybe I do. I honestly have no idea, other than my weight and baby’s growth are both normal and on track with all of my other pregnancies and within healthy limits, but there I go getting super defensive, so let me bring it back in a little bit….

The point is, even if someone thinks I look like I’m ready to have Baby tomorrow (despite weird pains in my body, trust me: I am definitely not ready for that), I don’t need to hear it. If someone feels the absolute need to comment on my body or my belly or my shape, the only thing they should be saying is that I am a) glowing (I still don’t know what this one means, but I’ll take it over an insinuation of ready-to-burst anytime) or b) look fantastic.

And really, there is no need to comment on my body at all (but I won’t lie; a compliment isn’t going to hurt a preggers, ever). Instead, ask me how I’m feeling or how I’m sleeping or how the kids are doing or what we had for dinner last night or basically anything other than drawing attention to the fact that yes, my belly is large (because it should be) and yes, a baby is going to come out of it (but that my definition of “soon” is probably highly different than most of society’s right now). And if you’re just curious/can’t remember when I am due, ask that. I’d much rather tell you (November) than assume that by your use of “soon” you mean a couple weeks from now. 😉

So that’s it. I’ve said all of this before, I’m sure, but since folks continue to use very, um, interesting words to comment on my physical appearance these days, I too am taking the blunt approach of saying: Love it or let it go. And, please!, don’t assume the word SOON is part of my current vocabulary.IMG_2500

 

Cry Me a River

Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a yoga training without an update and some tears, but wow, friends. We’re not just dealing with some here. Somehow, something dislodged in my dam and this weekend I am a blubbering, weepy mess all of the sudden.

So, first…a little backstory. Maybe two. To clarify – I am in Lincoln, NE this weekend for an intensive training immersion for Yoga Nidra. I am beyond thrilled to have this opportunity and have been waiting months for this weekend to arrive. Nidra has become more and more an interest of mine, as a teacher and as a practitioner, and the wisdom and knowledge being shared with us from our teacher, Sreedevi K. Bringi from Naropa University in Boulder, CO is so very much spot on with the way in which I want to learn and expand my knowledge of this subject matter, that I am nothing but grateful to be here.

I am also, apparently, a big-time crier this weekend, which leads me to backstory No.2. Remember the comparison post between Baby No.5 and Linky? Well, what I don’t think I mentioned (or perhaps I did and missed it in the skimming/remembering) is that my last couple therapy sessions have been boring. I’ve only been going once a month and while they have still been helpful and beneficial, I almost felt like both times I was running out of stuff to say. This is actually a great thing, because even with all the chaos of this spring semester, I felt like this meant I was handling things (i.e. life) pretty darn well.

And not to say that crying (a lot) means I’m not handling life well, but I certainly don’t know where all of these tears are coming from, other than they must have been storing up for a while now, because I can’t remember the last time I had a good, big ugly cry, but that’s sure what keeps looming during our training sessions.

Both last night during our introductions/what led us to this weekend, and then today when sharing and getting feedback on our sankalpas (think a personal resolve/intention that guides your YN practice each time you practice), I pretty much instantly turned into a blubbering mess. Even just in passing conversations during breaks, I keep welling up with emotion.

The heck?!

Again, I ask, where is this all coming from?

Of course, some of it can be blamed simply on hormones. Those are clearly in abundance in my system right now and many a pregnant woman has been known to be extra weepy. But I also think that my lack of time at home this week, coupled with the (amazing) intensity of this training has just put my nerves on edge to the extent that my emotions have decided to wring themselves out a bit while we’re at it.

And you know what? That’s not a bad thing.

img_6926I still haven’t gotten in (or would it be out) the full blown sob fest that seems to be sitting just under the surface, so I’m kind of hoping I can get that in BEFORE we begin our final session together tomorrow, otherwise, perhaps I’ll just go ahead a skip the mascara altogether, because so far I’m two-for-two on training time taking a majority of it off for me. But so it goes. You’ve got to have a little rain for growth.

Road Diary No.2

Annnnd, just like that, today is the day of Heading Home. For all the effort that went in on the front side (and oh, my – did that involve work and coordination), and then all the careful planning for our evening activities and getting around the burbs and some of KC-proper(ish) while we’ve been here, it’s now just about time to hit the road.

Currently Ben is still at meetings, and I’m spending the afternoon enjoying the A.C. (not to mention the amenities) of Target and Starbucks since I had to be out of the hotel before lunch. I mean, really – things could be much worse, eh? But since I am done with my slow perusing of Target and my lunch, I’m hunkered down at Starbucks until I get word from B that it’s time to come pick him up so we can start the five-hour journey back to Hastings.

There’s no way we’ll get there before the kids are in bed, which is a bummer, but I’m excited to see them (bright and early, as per usual) in the morning and see how big they are (don’t laugh; don’t you think the same even after just a day or two away from your kiddos?).  But mostly I want to hug and hold the bejeebies out of them because I miss that contact like crazy even though getting touched out happens to me all the time with them. Maternal Irony, I guess.

What’s wild, though, is that I get less than 12 hours with them and then I am hitting the road again for a special training in Lincoln. So while I can’t wait to snuggle up and hear all about their five sleeps without us, I still won’t really get to be with them until Monday. I am grateful for the timing of all these opportunities, that I can in fact go from one to the next, but at the same time – this is a lot for me to squeeze into one week!

As for the Road Diary that I posted as the micro blog on the MM page, well, I don’t know if I have any other revelations to add to that, except that this trip has been good for us. Ben has worked really hard during the days with his training for the new class he’ll be teaching this fall, and we did our best to fill our nights with activities and opportunities that we just don’t get at home (which I’m still doing here this afternoon with my two indulgences) from the Royals game and seeing an actual current movie in an actual movie theater (with reclining leather seats, tyvm) to shopping at IKEA and hitting up a prenatal yoga studio.

img_6918All of this means the days and nights have been pretty well FULL, but as whirlwind-y as it has been (and as fast as it has gone), there have been big benefits in terms of recharging and being able to have actual grownup conversations without interruptions, which just doesn’t happen at home. From here we jump back in headfirst with parenting and road tripping and finishing out summer camps and activities (pretty sure we don’t have a quiet weekend between now and the start of school), so for now, I’m just going to sip the rest of my iced coffee and say a little (loud) bit of thanks to have had this opportunity.

Little Lincoln?

To be perfectly honest, I did not have any thoughts, whatsoever, about who Baby No.5 resembled at our 20 week ultrasound. How can you really tell in those space-agey images if a kiddo looks like another kiddo or one of you two? I figured that arms up by the face (which pretty much all of our ultrasounds have looked like) was enough proof of being a Little Welschie and left it at that.

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And then I got a text from one of my dearest friends after she saw the image on FB that said, “That picture is SO Lincoln!” and when I went to look at it again, holy moly cow, I saw that she was SO right. Now I can’t see anything but Baby Lincoln’s little face and it is entertaining to think that our babe who did not resemble the others when born might end up with a little twin in November. In fact, I love it.

I mention all of this because I have actually been struggling a lot in the last couple weeks and the last time I remember being this constantly angry and discontent was the time April tried to do us in, the spring I was pregnant with – you got it – Lincoln. Do some of you remember the birth that month of Captain Cranky Pants? It’s a name I’ve come back to a time or four over the years, but I honestly don’t think it’s been quite so accurate of a connection until now. Because, whoa. Everything and everything is irritating the crap out of me these days.

The real culprit? Probably not a shocker, but my guess is sleep. The 4th of July put us behind and it’s not like I’ve ever really been ahead since, oh, mid-March, so I know I’m a very tired, fairly pregnant mama and I’m just not handling (any)things very well.

What occurred to me, beyond the CCP connection, relates back to something my OB said at my last appointment – the same one where that very image was captured by the ultrasound machine. We were talking about my going back to CO this month (sadly, I opted out because it was one thing I could take off my schedule, even if I didn’t want to, and the risk of another setback was just too much for me to take on, even if medically speaking, going wouldn’t have been an inherent risk for either myself or the baby) and I mentioned that I’m just so much more tired and worn down this time around, which led to her response of, “Yeah, you haven’t had an easy go of it with this one.”

Of course my immediate response was, “Oh, it hasn’t been that bad.” because tough as it’s been, I wouldn’t call this a bad pregnancy. But that’s not what she was calling it either. It’s not bad. But it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing, and that’s where the still-behind-on-energy-and-appetite feeling, even at 21 weeks, comes into play.

The last time I heard her say something like that? Well, I tried to find it on the blog archives to verify and couldn’t, but I am pretty darn sure that she said something very similar during Linky’s pregnancy which was, yes, not easy. And then, as it did now, it took me a while for the reality to sink that if my obstetrician is pointing out the difficulty of my experience, perhaps it would be OK for me to acknowledge and accept that for what it is. And then, perhaps I could cut myself a wee bit of slack with the guilt over being a raging crank momster (error intended) and instead focus on doing what I can to get back to feeling good again.

Honestly, it might take some time. It might take 1,000 baby steps. It might take acknowledging and accepting that this too may just be a season in the tunnel that I have to ride out, because eventually this sweet Little Lincoln-clone is going to join us earth side and while I probably won’t sleep much in the immediate after (is it wrong if I start having daily convos with the bump promising favoritism if s/he comes out as our best sleeper ever? yeah? it is? darn.), someday I will again be rested and able to carve out a space for myself in our family of seven. And while I know that no human can be expected to never have some CCP flareups, I also know that eventually – whether it is tomorrow or next July – mine can be fewer and farther between, and far less cranky in general.

And in the meantime, I can be far less hard on myself for having (and seeing it as such) a hard time.

P.S. Just in case more evidence was needed…it was after Lincoln was born that I reached the point of starting therapy which lead to yoga and breakthroughs and all the work that I have spent the last four years doing to better take care of myself mentally, so again, no shocker here that his little buddy is putting those same tasks directly in my face again. And just as with Lincoln, I’ll be forever grateful for the nudge to do so.

 

A Lot More Peace

Maybe this is a gift of the 5th baby.

Maybe it is a result of now being 35.

Maybe it is both of those things and the work of the last (almost) four years on body image and a dedicated yoga practice.

Whatever the reason(s), I’m writing today to check in and say “Hey!” and “Yay!” because not as many check-ins regarding how I physically look during this pregnancy have seemed necessary. With Truman’s, I was in the middle of some big work in therapy in regards to a whacked out body image, so I wrote – a lot – about my body and people’s reactions to it and my reactions to their reactions. In fact, I did regular trimester updates (including the fourth) and probably some extras here and there, too. But with Baby No.5, I’ve made it to darn near the halfway point before feeling the need to type away on the subject matter.

Now this doesn’t mean everything has been a breeze and I am now 100% magically fine with every random comment I get or sideways glance they throw at my belly when people find out how far along I am (however, I feel I fall far more into the category of regular pregnant lady annoyances than body image over-reactor these days, so there’s that).

For instance, last week a person I don’t know was chatting with me, in a perfectly fine and friendly manner, when she looked at my bump and asked, “And I see you are expecting again soon?”

Friends, I’m 19 weeks. You see the word there that was the problem right? I know some people say you should NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant (let her tell you about it, if she wants) and I do follow that as a personal, general rule. That being said, I would not have cared about her question at all had she left off the ridiculous word “soon” there at the end. If you simply must comment on a stranger’s tummy (see how this can become a slippery slope?), never EVER assume you know how far along she is (because, hi, she might not even be pregnant).

Anyway – there are moments like those. But fine. Because this IS my fifth kid and my oldest is only just about to turn eight and my belly knows very much where to go on this process and so what? So what if it looks like I am due soon but I still have 21ish weeks to go?

For the record, I don’t look like that, or if I do, I don’t think so, and instead of spinning off into my head as a result of that comment, I was able to laugh (not directly at the woman, but almost) and use it as fodder for jokes with friends that same day. This is a big change for me from the past.

So cheers to being a more mature mama-to-be and doing the work of accepting my physical shape with more grace and ease than ever before.

As we continue into the second half of bump growth, I very much hope this trend continues, and to support that (along with a bunch of other facets of pregnancy), I’m super excited for these gorgeous affirmation cards I just got from Mama Natural. img_6631No product endorsement or affiliation here, but thanks to the weirdness of the internets, these showed up in my feed and I ordered some because I love them. They are a beautiful set of 50 cards that I plan to use with my prenatal yoga teaching for always and for myself in the coming months. The few shown here are the ones that highlight the beauty and acceptance of the physical body which is just perfect.

And so. There you have it. An update on being a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and whole lot grateful for both.