Wellness

parenthood: chapter 5

where do i even begin?

the sleep regression continues to be touch and go, so i won’t even spend anymore time on that issue and just end the topic with to be continued

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the time has flown so fast this month because i realize how few pictures i took of lil man during his fifth month until the end. this month was a big month for him too! we started it off with immunizations right before his first plane ride to visit the in-laws. a few days before we left for our trip, he finally mastered rolling from back to front while napping one day unfortunately he hasn’t mastered front to back so it was quite humorous to find him in distress over how to get back on his side.

he handled the flight well except for the decent due to the pressure in his ears and he would not feed or suck on a pacifier. he just wanted off that plane. his aunts, uncles, and cousins ate him up and he responded with smiles and squeals. he got his first taste of the city although its generally pretty calm on the weekends. he brought a smile to every face that encountered him both in the company of friends and on the street. Yes his nap times were way off to which i am sure we are paying for it dearly now but for the most part i think he enjoyed the stimulation.

now that we are back and settling into the stillness of our lives once again, i can see the benefits of him interacting with babies his age. the day after we got back, lil man started testing out his legs and made the first attempts to crawl! most of the people i know have toddlers or school aged children so it makes play time a bit challenging. but i think this coming month i want to challenge myself to get out more now that its getting cooler and explore more with my son and interact with those around me.

as for me, this has been a big month too. i finally started counseling to work not only through my grief but also through the many fractures in my world that have affected how i respond and react now. it has been overwhelming as i feel as soon as i start to see a part of myself more clearly, i see how much more stuff is still unpacked and waiting to be looked over. i know i will be better for it in the long run, but it doesn’t make the process any easier or more enjoyable.

all in all, i still feel like i am dreaming. not sure when that feeling will subside. baby boy is growing so fast and learning so much about the world, that it doesn’t seem like enough time to really take in the fact that he is here.

Parenthood: Chapter 4

If I had it in me to torture my worst enemy, I would probably choose for them to endure the four month sleep regression. It is slow. and it is painful.

As Keith and I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel of sleepless nights, we were smacked in the face with yet another road block: extended wake times and sleep regression.

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I was less frustrated this time (but still a little peeved that this little person seemed to be toying with me and the hope that seemed to be dangling off of a cliff). I think I was more frantic that I was losing the groove I was beginning to establish with his sleeping schedule. Not only that, as soon as I thought he was okay with me leaving him to play by himself, he suddenly grew fussy and clingy for no explicable reason.

But in the midst of the mild stress it brought me, I could not help but watch my son in adoration as he discovered something new about himself. The way he explored his own movement, slowly moving his fingers slowly above him. Insisting on sitting up so that he could reach for something in front of him. Everything was new to him, abilities I take for granted.

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I cheered him on as he tried to roll over without assistance and encouraged him when he grew frustrated at a failed attempt. I knew that feeling. I also knew how hard I am on myself when I fail. I knew I didn't want to pass that on to my son. I scooped him up into my arms and would tell him that his trying was excellent and that we would try again later. Part of me was telling myself those same words.

I believe that the Spirit inside of each of us both young and old is ageless and filled with the knowledge of the universe and so it comes as no surprise that God uses the tiny movements of infants to both humble us, as well as administer his grace through them.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Recently, I had a meal train created for Keith and I to help us get through the first month of parenting, and one of the main pieces of advice I kept hearing from the mums bringing over meals was lactation cookies.

I wasn't having issues with my milk coming in (mine came in on day 2), but since deciding to exclusively pump, I thought it could be helpful. The only brand I was able to find was one sold at Target (really shocked Whole Foods didn't have anything) and each little bag was 2.50. I tried them. They were okay. The texture was the equivalent of Cookie Crisp cereal in my opinion. So I decided to see if I could make my own.

cookie batter
cookie dough

Technically, I could just eat a bowl of oatmeal with some flaxseed and call it a day, but where is the fun in that? Plus, I needed an excuse to use my KitchenAid mixer. Also, the secret ingredient to better milk supply is supposed to be the brewer's yeast, but if you don't have it or can't find it, oatmeal and flaxseed should still do it. you just won't have super powers like me.

oatmeal cocolate chip

I got the original recipe from here but made some modifications, which I have listed below. This isn't vegan, but you could easily replace the egg. Anyway, I refuse to keep you waiting.

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (or 2 cups rolled oats and 1 cup of steel cut oats for a little crunch)
1 1/2 cups oat flour (if you can't find this at your store, just throw 2 cups of rolled oats in a blender till fine)
5 tablespoons brewers yeast
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks

Directions

Preheat the oven the 350 degrees F.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, yeast, flaxseed, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  4. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again.
  6. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  8. Scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart and slightly flatten with a fork.
  9. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

That's it. Less then ten steps! Do not over bake these! When you take them out, they should still be soft (they will get firmer once cooled so make sure the bottoms are light to medium golden). I have made two batches and made the mistake of leaving the second batch in for an extra minute and they wound up extra crunchy when they cooled.

Also a note on brewer's yeast. Make sure you get one with reduced bitterness or no bitterness. I did not  know there was a choice but thankfully  I did not make this mistake! Anyways, let me know what you think! 

 

Diminished Expectations

Disappointment. Frustration. Anxiety.

Not what I expected to be feeling completing thirty-eight weeks of pregnancy. Accomplishment. Joy. Relief. This is what I ought to be feeling at this moment. I was told to expect now. To plan for now. But now has come and gone, leaving me questioning how well i know my own body, its capabilities, and even the idea of its incompetency.

We thought we would be bringing home a baby by now. Starting our tiny family. But instead, I am at yet another obgyn appointment being told i am still 3 cm dilated.

Its normal for pregnant mums to hang out at 3 cm for weeks, the triage doctor who discharged on friday informed me. But the fact is, that this pregnancy hasn’t been considered normal since i was diagnosed with incompetent cervix. I was given the impression that if the cerclage came out too soon, or if i stopped taking my progesterone too soon, my cervix would collapse like the walls of Jericho. ok a tad dramatic, but still that was the sentiment.

But here i am at thirty-eight weeks, debunking the assumptions I have been fed. It has left me wondering if i indeed have an incompetent cervix. After a weekend of brewing in my own emotional deflation, I think it is good that i am here, with no expectations. This entire pregnancy i have been guided by benchmarks, milestones, and achievement. My pregnancy, for a time, existed within twenty-four weeks. When i achieved twenty-four, i graduated to thirty weeks and then finally thirty-seven. I have never looked beyond the perimeters set up for me. It would have been too much to hope or expect more.

But now I have nothing but birth to achieve and there is no real date for that. Even my estimated due date is just that--an estimate. I realize it has been easier to live with stability rather than unpredictability. Delivering Isaac at almost 24 weeks was unpredictable and the cost of that was devastating. The thought of a structureless pregnancy intimidated me, and so I have spent the last nine months with blinders on, with the end barely in my periphery.

Now, there is nothing standing in the way of the end and me. It feels like i am a marathon runner told the race would end here, but as my body brushes up against the finish line ribbon, I find that it has been moved forward another five miles. But, I must either hope and persevere, or stop living. Stop enjoying this transition as it is meant to be enjoyed.

I must choose perseverance.

 

joy and sorrow

after what we experienced with isaac, keith said somberly. i can no longer live in this selfish state of mind that this life is promised to me. isaac lived sixteen days. some live sixteen years. others live till they are sixty. when you are looking death in the face, every moment is precious.

i remember the day before isaac passed. he had just come through surgery successfully. keith yelled at the top of his lungs outside thank you jesus before breaking down and crying. we had surrendered what we thought was everything to God. we thought he was only testing us and that we had passed the test with another day with our boy.

i remember going home that evening and singing a worship song with keith in the dark. oceans. the rain came down that night and keith and i sat on the porch and watched lightning flicker across the deepness of night. doctor orsini's call the following morning was slightly concerning, but we were still so hopeful, even then. our doctor's eyes were wet with sadness. isaac was not going to make it. 

we breathed in while sobriety coiled around our words in our silence.

as i spent the last few hours praying for and singing to my dying son, i realized then what surrender was. that there was no test. this was just life. one year later, as keith and i were trying to pick out a tree to plant for isaac while his sibling grew restless inside of me, i wished with all of my being that isaac could be here with us now. that is when the painful realization squeezed my heart. our two children could never coexist on this side of eternity. if isaac were still here, we wouldn't have started trying so soon, and we would not be experiencing this particular child.

it is here where joy and sorrow coexist for me. i cannot experience one without the other. i believe that is what most who have lost a child and gained another wrestle with. while the world around us celebrates the new life that we bring to it, we are constantly reminded of why that life came to be. we cannot forget, so don't ask us to.

there is a part of me that cannot wait for may to be over. i have been so overcome by my emotions, which is a lot to admit to since by nature, i am a big feeler. today, i slept till almost noon, the heaviness of it all crippling my already ailing pregnant body. i wonder what propels me forward despite my anguish.

mercy, keith mentioned. we don't have a choice but to show others mercy. to give them a sense of dignity, no matter how long they have on this earth.