Swiper the Fox

So for some time now my son has had a little nickname that we have given him of Swiper.  This derived from a character on Dora the Explorer who takes things from people.  Liam on a somewhat regular basis tries to swipe any lingering desserts on the table.  Ava has fell victim to this many times as she doesn’t eat them as quickly as he does.

A few nights ago in the madness of what I call dinnertime I was cleaning up in the kitchen when Liam said, ” Look Ava I am having the last bite of ice cream,” as he scooped up the last bite and put it in his mouth.  Irritated I slammed my hand down on the counter and yelled, “Liam!”  I couldn’t believe he did it again.  He stole Ava’s last bite of ice cream and was taunting her about it again.  Liam froze, his eyes bulging out at me.  He finally in a shaky voice replied, “Mommy this was my ice cream.”  Now I froze completely stunned.  I quickly replayed in my head the last five minutes of dinner and to my horror realized Ava had an ice pop and Liam had ice cream, he indeed did not steal her dessert.  Complete and utter remorse and self-deprecation washed over me.  At this point Liam’s lower lip was quivering and I felt horrible.  I quickly rushed to him and scooped him up in my lap.  I apologized profusely to him and tried to explain to him why I jumped to the conclusion I had.  As he calmed down in my arms a heavy albatross grew around my neck.

A little while later while Will and I were finishing cleaning up the kitchen I was discussing my plans for our garden and how we needed to go to Lowes the next day to pick up some materials.  Liam interjected into the conversation how he wanted to be with me tomorrow and just me for some mommy and Liam time.  My heart melted and I felt a little better about what had passed thinking that he had forgiven me.  Will and I quickly came up with an idea that when we got to Lowes we would split up, so Will would take Ava and I would take Liam to pick up the items.

The next day Liam, Ava, and I got in the car to meet Will at Lowes after he got out of school.  As we were pulling out of the driveway Liam said, “Now remember Ava you will go with daddy and I am going to go with mommy.”  Ava said, “No why don’t we all go together.”  Liam said, “No we can’t. I have to make mommy feel better about her mistake.” That is when my ears perked up.  Mistake, what mistake?  Today had been a relatively low conflict day.  “Liam what mistake did I make?” I asked.  “Remember yesterday mommy when you yelled at me because you thought I stole Ava’s dessert.  I knew you felt bad and you were hurting so I wanted to make it better.”

12305814_10208286065415264_490324964_nI could not believe what I was hearing.  For a moment I was completely shocked, but I had to shake myself out of that as we were driving down the road.  I was in awe on how insightful and thoughtful and empathetic Liam had been.  Even now as I type this out it astonishes me how forgiving and loving he was.  It’s unbelievable how sometimes the littlest actions, the simplest words can have the most profound impact.  Liam in that split second reminded me on how as wonderful and great, grand gestures are sometimes, it’s the purest, smallest moments that can have the lasting effect.

 

 

 

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Get Checked!

I sit here tonight writing about something I openly admit that I know nothing about.  I could type out statistics and spout out facts, but you can Google them yourself.  And although I have never personally gone through it, I doubt anyone would argue with me when I say, “Cancer Sucks.”

There are people in our lives that impact us good and bad.  Sometimes the other person is aware of their influence on our lives, other times not so much.

I went to a small college in the Hudson Valley region of New York.   It was small enough that even though you might not personally know every person, you do recognize their face.  This blog is in particular about one girl who was a grade below me.  She actually was in lot of my now husband’s classes.  She always had a smile on her face.  Even though I did not know her very well it was apparent how friendly, caring, and nice of person she was.  I look back at that time in college and wish now that we had been closer.  I know I would have been a better person then if we had been.

However, I am a better person now because of her.  Because of the wonderful age of social media that we live in today we are friends on Facebook.  I have traveled along her journey through breast cancer.  She is the epitome of courageous, strong, persistent, inspiring, and amazing.  Her honesty in her posts put a face to all of the statistics you read regarding breast cancer.  It is hard not to laugh and cry with her during her triumphs and her bumps in the road.  Her infectious smile and her beautiful family have captivated an audience who are all cheering for her on the sidelines.

While many would take this opportunity to worry about themselves she went a step further and became involved in a beautiful PSA video about getting checked regularly.  I have posted it below.  I urge you to watch it.  While none of us know what the future has in store for any of us, I can guarantee you this, the light the she shines and her fabulousness is and will continue to change lives.

The End is Near

It’s funny when I started this whole process as a gestational carrier one of the things that was told to me time after time from every professional was think about all the situations that could arise and plan for them.  However, just as I predicted there is no way of thinking of every possible scenario, and last week was one of those moments. 

I was at the 37 week checkup and afterwards the office had a mini class for those who were coming close to being due.  During the class the topic of having active labor came up and how to “work” through the pain and that is when it dawned on me.  With Liam and Ava in those moments of pain I told myself in the end there would be my son or daughter in my arms, and although it surely did not make the pain any better, it did renew my sense of perseverance.  I am slightly nervous now thinking about how I do not have the same motivation this time.  Yes in the end there will be a baby and a beautiful new family, however what will I have?  I am not trying to get something out of this, but I am slightly worried that I might feel….empty when this is all over.  Does that sound horrible?

I have told my husband how important it will be for me to see the kids as soon as I can after the delivery.  To have them in my arms to kiss, hold, and hug, I think it will help a lot.  I have also told him that after the baby is born and everyone is excitedly buzzing around the new baby and parents, that I might need a little extra TLC.  I worry now slightly that the aftermath might be a little harder than I had anticipated.  It isn’t that I want another baby, it’s far from that, it’s more just knowing what I am about to go through and having the strength to do it.  

10917266_819323801447500_6350335670359871823_nLiam and Ava I believe understand that the baby is not coming home with us as this is a constant conversation that I have with them.  I am so unbelievably happy that I have done this and if asked if I would do it knowing everything I know now, my answer would be yes.  However, I am looking forward to going back to status quo in my home.  I am also looking forward to having my body and life back.

Hypocrite

Hypocrite.  That is what I am.  A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.  After a morning of being yelled at, being told I am a mean mommy, cried at, and threatened to be hit, I yelled at both of my kids for yelling.  Well if that is not the anti-message, I do not know what is.

Sure I could make a lot of excuses of why I am burnt out and they are all valid ones, but what kiParenting -hypocritend of message am I sending to my children to not yell, as I yell at them for yelling?  Granted they both looked stunned at me and quieted down, but I feel really ashamed of myself.  They are both in their rooms sleeping or quietly quaking and I feel horrible.

Liam and Ava recently have been having a hard time listening and many times I feel like they are not made to do so.  It is true that the path of least resistance works, but it cannot be done for every occasion.  In the last 24 hours I have repeated myself giving the same instructions over and over again.  Granted that partly comes with the territory of little children behavior, but it has gone too far as evidence of my own temper tantrum with the children.  Why is it that my yelling got exactly what I wanted, but now I feel horrible?

Sometimes I feel like I am really failing at this parent job.  I question my ability, my strength, and my effectiveness.  I am sure all parents have those moments and I am not the only one to feel this way, however I am worn out.  I just wish there could be one day, just one day with no battles, no arguing, and no negotiating, just “Yes mommy”.

Its 12:15 right now and the kids will probably get up in an hour from nap.  I would like to erase this whole morning, however I cannot.  I need to reset and so do they.  Together we will figure this out.  If nothing else maybe instead of my next entry being entitled “Hypocrite”, it will be “The Art of Patience.”  Now that is something worth writing about.

A Family That Throws Up Together Stays Together

It all started last Wednesday night I got home late and Liam and Ava were already in bed. I was standing in the kitchen with my husband talking, when I noticed that there was an eerie silence. I can’t explain it, but something was not right. I checked on Ava and she was sound asleep. I then went down to Liam’s room and in the dimly lit room I could see he was sitting up. I went over to his bed and placed my hands on his covers and right away realized they were wet. That was when I saw that Liam’s body was heaving and the horror washed over me. He was throwing up. In his almost four years he has never thrown up. When he was he finished he looked at me and said, “I can’t make it stop.” It broke my heart and thus we began the stomach bug that ripped through our house.

That night my husband and I did not get much sleep every half hour Liam got sick and we constantly were stripping his bed and changing his clothes. However, by morning it had subsided and he was now just a weak, tired little boy. Throughout his stomach upsetness Liam made mention to the fact that he had “the throw ups”. I felt so bad seeing him like that, but I thought the worse was over. Until early Friday morning…. I woke to hear my husband violently sick in the bathroom and right away realized another man down. At 4:00 in the morning I knew I wanted to get out of the house as early as possible for many reasons. One being it would be best for my husband to be able to recover in a quiet, kid free zone; but two maybe if I left I could escape the germs. Having already done 16 weeks of morning sickness and now finally at 20 weeks feeling good I did not want to go back to hanging over a toilet. Besides this stomach bug although short term (lasted about 6 hours) was intense making you sick every half hour. It took days for Liam to even start eating and moving about again, and I feared being pregnant getting dehydrated. I stayed at my parents all day on Friday. Liam still was less energetic and spent most of the day lounging about, but Ava played lively all day. We ate dinner with my parents and as we were cleaning up Ava was running about. All of the sudden she stopped and right there in my parent’s living room, she began her six hour tour of the stomach bug. Fear crept over me as I tried to comfort her. I could see in her face she was scared as she did not understand what was going on. I live 40 minutes away from my parents and knowing the past two experiAva ence, she was inevitable going to get sick in the car. My mother had an ingenious idea and took a huge plastic shopping bag and cut holes to fit over her head and arms to protect her coat in case my fears were realized. Twenty minutes from home as I was trying to make my best attempt to make it before the next episode occurred, Liam announced that Ava had the “throw ups” again. I quickly moved to the shoulder where I cleaned her up the best I could and prayed there would not be another incident before I got home. By the time I got home my recovering husband helped me get the kids inside and Ava situated. Ava finally finished her round of the “throw ups” around midnight. My house was silent and still. My poor husband and kids lay in their beds as their bodies were trying to heal and rest. I was wide awake. Exhausted but terrified. I had come to the realization at this point that I was the only standing survivor and it was not likely I would stay that way. I believe I related it to on Facebook like a game of Russian Roulette. The trigger was going to be pulled and it was only a matter of time to find out whether it was a blank or not.

Bang! 2:00 AM I awoke and knew immediately my time had come. Paranoid of the dehydration after each round I sipped cautiously Gatorade. Funny thing is that maybe it was the sugar or the electrolytes in the Gatorade, but throughout my bout I could feel the baby kick, which gave me peace at mind. By 8:00 in the morning it was over but I was weak, achy and very tired. It isn’t an easy position to be in in general, but when you know your family Mommy and Ava Recoveringisn’t at its best either it’s hard not to feel bad. Luckily my husband who certainly wasn’t completely better rallied and took care of the kids and me. I slept most of the day. Liam and Ava using their doctor kit they got from Santa, periodically checked my temperature and gave me shots to feel better. There something so soothing about the innocence and kindheartedness of a child. Liam repeatedly said that day, “Mommy I just want to make you happy and feel better.” And you know what, he did. Those four days were a rough time for our household and I hope we may never have to go through that again. We had to lean on each other, take care of each other, and in our own ways did what we could to make the other person feel better. However, I am convinced a family that throws ups together stays together.

Learning to Love Myself

I look back to when I was 16 years old, 20 years old, and even 28 years old, and I have to laugh.  I am not sure why it took me having to carry two children to learn to love myself more, but it did.

When I was 16 years old I danced, played field hockey, and fenced.  I was quite fit, however I still had a little tummy.  Probably unrecognizable to everyone else, but to me a thorn in my side.  I refused to wear two piece bathing suits or anything that was fitted, as I was very uncomfortable with my form.  As I got older my view did not change of myself and I became very critical of how I looked.  If only I could take the pudge from my tummy and add it to my chest, well that would be perfection I used to think.

I was envious of women I saw who I viewed had the “perfect” body. But more so, was envious of the women who seemed so content and happy with themselves.  I wish I had had their confidence, their inner happiness, their magic secret.

It’s funny, I am not sure why, but after having two children two undeniable things changed for me.  Let’s face it, not everything went back to the way it once was and the stretch marks on my thighs and tummy are like a road map that tells the stories of my pregnancies.  Nonetheless, I am more comfortable now with myself than I was five years ago.

Having a son and a daughter I think it is so very important to stress the importance of loving yourself and breaking the cycle of belittling yourself.  I want Liam and Ava to grow up with a more confident, loving sense of themselves then I did. I wasted so much time and energy on my looks that I know I did not enjoy some opportunities to the fullest. Instead of comparing myself to all of the other girls, I wish I had been able to have the strength to just be.

That is why I am so unbelievably excited to introduce a new concept that Jennifer Sanzo of The Flower City Fashionista launched today. It’s called the #NoMoreLies campaign. This campaign’s goal is to break the cycle of self-hate due to body image. It’s a wakeup call to everyone, men and women alike.  I encourage all of you to share your personal struggles with body image and your commitment to change the next generation by adding your voice to the #NoMoreLies Join here: http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=460585

Yesterday I Lost My Patience

Yesterday morning started out like all other mornings.  I awoke to Ava calling for Mama from her crib which promptly woke Liam.  As I shuffled to Ava’s room I could here Liam stirring and knew soon the request for warm milk and brown sugar (oatmeal) would be coming.  Once my husband and I got through the morning rush of getting the kids what they needed and letting the dog out my husband had to run out for an appointment.

The kids and I went downstairs to watch Team Umizoomi and Ava got upset with me about letting Liam pick the first show and hit me.  I gave Ava a warning saying if she hit me again she would have to go into time out.  Ava hit me and I put her in time out.  This isn’t a recurring event still Ava has been put in time out before.  However, this specific incident sent her into a meltdown of epic proportions.

temperYou see Liam and Ava both have had their fair share of temper tantrums, but their ways of dealing with it are so very different.  Liam’s outbursts are not as often and due to his age much easier to reason with him. Even when we was younger, if you took the approach of ignoring the tantrum, he would quickly pull himself together and then explain what was upsetting him.  However, with Ava it is very different.  Sometimes her tantrums seem to come out of nowhere and once she begins there is no quelling it.  No words of comfort, cradling, and attention will soothe her.  In fact, the only way to calm her is to let her escalate herself to such a frantic hysterical state it eventually tires her out and then looks for soothing.  As a mother this is not only very upsetting to observe, but it is also very draining.  These episode can last up to 40 minutes long and I sit helplessly by as she demands for certain things (glass of milk) and then right away refuses it.  Liam sometimes comes in and tries to do his part as well.  He will try to hug Ava or even make her laugh.  There have been a few occasions where this actually has helped, but for the most part Liam usually leaves the room saying that Ava is being too loud.

I have talked to a couple of professionals regarding this and it seems that the general consensus is that this is very typical toddler tantrum behavior.  Even though that is reassuring to know in those moments of helplessness it is very hard to see past it.  This particular tantrum lasted 35 minutes.  When it ended I had Ava in my lap rocking her.  Once she was calm she crawled down and joined her brother in playing.  Most of the time during these tantrums I stay super calm, speaking in a soothing voice while trying to create a calming environment for her (soft music playing, dimmed lights, warm milk).

Unfortunately, yesterday I did not deal with it so well.  I lost my temper and as soon as I did I felt terrible.  In the midst of Ava’s tantrum I noticed that her pull up was leaking and was leaving wet marks on the wooden hallway floor.  I quickly cleaned up and knew I had to change Ava.  This riled her up even more.  Screaming and kicking Ava was not letting me remove the diaper or put a new one on.  Many may think just let her stay in the oversaturated diaper.  However, unless I was going to follow her around with a mop until the tantrum was over she was getting the floors wet.  So there I was with her on her changing table kicking and screaming and I was struggling to get the new pull up on when I just snapped and yelled, “Ava will you just please let me put this diaper on you!”  She paused for a moment stunned and then screamed and kicked even harder.  Now not only had I just lost my patience, but I just made the situation worse.  Shortly after that she began to unwind and I rocked her until my husband got home.

In typical mommy fashion I have replayed this scenario in my head multiple times.  I am constantly trying to think of new ways to calm her faster and now this time I have the added bonus of berating myself for snapping at her.  As I have heard from many people, “this too shall pass”, and although I know that that is true, right now it does not give me much comfort nor help.  I just hope I can come up with Mommy/Ava solution so I can help her through this easier and I will not lose my sanity.

 

The Longest Day

End Alzheimer's
End Alzheimer’s

I am going to go off topic today to discuss an issue very near and dear to my heart.  Tomorrow is coined “The Longest Day” in the Alzheimer’s community.  This day honors the 44 million people living with dementia, their caregivers and their families.  Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.

Sadly I became more aware about this horrifying disease when my grandfather was diagnosed with it many years ago.  To say that this disease is not only extremely frustrating and cruel but unfair would be an understatement.  My grandfather was an extremely fit man who until the disease progressed along too far walked several miles a day, rode his bike to pay his taxes, and did yard work.  For all his physical strength he had, he was mentally sharp as well.  An avid reader who read the newspaper daily and did the puzzles within them, declined to the point of being unable to balance the checkbook let alone read an article.  It is devastating to see someone deteriorate and change so dramatically.  Alzheimer’s disease changes not only the physical and mental capabilities but also the person’s personality.  For the loving and supportive family members who are left behind it is at times hard to see or even admit.

In early stages of the disease, people may experience personality changes such as irritability, anxiety or depression. In later stages, other symptoms may occur, including sleep disturbances; agitation (physical or verbal outbursts); delusions (firmly held belief in things that are not real); or hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there).

What the disease robs from the person, it also robs from the surrounding family members and loved ones. As you slowly become a stranger to that person you have known all your life it becomes increasingly hard to bear. It saddens me to think how my grandfather really never got to know my precious Liam and Ava. They were robbed of a great-grandfather much too young.

GrandpaIn honor of my loving and wonderful grandfather, David Adley Hague, I ask you all to just become more aware of Alzheimer’s and the many faces it has.

 

 

 

I am a rock. I am an island

Since I decided to share a very difficult moment previously about my postpartum depression with Liam I have decided to write about another very difficult moment for me.  It was during a time when I felt very lonely, sad and confused.  I figured if only one person reads and feels comfort in knowing that they aren’t the only one that went through what I went through, then this would have done some good.  I know I wish I had had that at my moment of darkness.

Eleven months after Liam was born as the fog had begun to slowly roll away and I saw specks of sunshine I began entertaining the thought of having another child.  I always wanted two kids and to have them close together in my head was ideal.  I also thought that “if I could get this part over with” then I could actually begin to enjoy having children.  Please understand it isn’t that I was so negative about babies and pregnancy, however my first experience was not exactly a perfect scenario and I was looking forward to being a completed family and progressing from there.

Some people I am sure think it would be crazy to get pregnant so quickly after coming out of such a difficult time but quite honestly I also didn’t think I was going to get pregnant so quickly….but I did.  I was very excited and to be honest a little scared.  I had “What did I get myself into moment.”  Unfortunately unlike my pregnancy with Liam where I slept and ate all the time, the only thing I was successful in doing the first 5 months was throwing up and losing not gaining weight.  On the upside I had a lot of energy, shocking for someone who felt so ill.  With that said I cried … a lot.  But who wouldn’t if you spent most of your day hanging over a toilet or sink.  It wasn’t until I spent a day with a dear friend of mine that my husband picked up on something not being right.

I came home from my day of shopping, chatting, and even successfully eating lunch, and Will asked me how it was.  I remember looking at him and saying it was fine and then bursting into tears.  He looked at me shocked and then I blurted out, “I am sad all the time and I cry all the time.”  He looked at me and without saying a word knew we were right back where I was 5 months ago.

Well maybe not right back where I was.  With my postpartum depression I felt numb and emotionless.  This was exactly the opposite I felt horrible, sad, depressed and on top of that I felt ashamed.  This is exactly what I wanted, how dare I feel anything but happiness.  It was a two day battle between my well intentioned husband and me to get me to call the doctor.  I remember the nurse asking why I was making the appointment and in a small embarrassed voice I uttered, “I am depressed.”

I was so humiliated and I could not bring myself to look at the doctor when I explained everything I was feeling.  The only other people I even dared to share a small portion of what I was feeling were my parents and even that made me feel terrible.  Everyone around me was so excited about my pregnancy but I just cried.   When we found out that we were having a girl ( my dream was complete) I felt indifferent and that kills me now.

There are a lot of things looking back that pains me but I try to remember that this wasn’t my fault.  I did not bring it on myself and it did not dictate what kind of person I was or even what kind of mother I would be. I guess if anything it taught me a lot about how lucky I am to have the wonderful husband and family who supported me.  I am also very grateful for how I feel now and can enjoy my precious lovely children and most of all, our family is complete.