19 January 2017

Vomiting and Down Syndrome

Warning: I'm going to talk about vomit! And also Down syndrome and struggles, but all illustrated with vomit.

I sat in wait for the stomach flu to hit our house. I waited impatiently, eager for it to come so we could get it over with. The girls have three blankets on their bed every night and I pulled two off and stuffed them in the closet. When they threw up at 2am and one special blanket had to be tossed in the washer, I'd have a back up ready. The other week Meijer had flannel crib sheets on clearance ($7.27! That's super cheap! Crib sheets are so expensive I often can't tell if I'm buying a three piece set of twin size bedding or one lone crib sheet. It's maddening). Anyway, I grabbed a few sheets, then paused. The stomach flu is coming. You can never have too many flannel sheets. (Especially when you have three kids on crib mattresses - toddler beds use crib mattresses.) I grabbed another couple sheets. That's how prepared I was.

And then it came. I can't even remember when it started, as it came in tandem with a nasty cold. Theodore got the stomach flu, then recovered and caught the cold; at the same time, Abigail did the reverse. I had one with a runny nose and another vomiting, then they switched. Eleanor ran both concurrently, and totally exploded last night. All three of my kids have only vomited at night. Theodore is almost 14 months and he just lets out a loan cry and then falls back asleep. Matt and I aren't even fully awake, our sleepy brains run through something like this: Is someone awake? That sounded like Theodore. He fell back asleep? Good. And we're back asleep before we finish the last thought. The next morning we awake to find him pasted over in cold vomit. "Do you remember hearing him last night?" "Sort of, maybe." And then I have to dunk him in the tub, which is the equivalent to torture for him. So now I'm pinning down a sick, recently-vomiting kid in the bathtub while he screams a shear, ear-piercing scream of death while I scrub him down as quickly as I can.

And then there's Abigail. She neither calls for me nor wails out a loan cry nor sits in one place. She's all over the bedroom, puking her guts up all over her blanket, pillow, stuffed animals, maybe Eleanor's bed. And when she wakes up, she won't call out "Uh oh!" She'll just pick up the toys and play with them. When I open the door, she'll exclaim, "Mommy, look!" She's not proud or disgusted. She's just enthusiastically stating a fact. And she's five and a half. This is every winter when the stomach flu passes through our house for five and a half years. Steam cleaning carpets and washing every stuffed animal we own.

But now there's Eleanor. And last night when she threw up (and I so knew it was going to happen last night. I just had a feeling), she let out a scared, uncertain wail, "momMY!" followed by slow, dramatic sobs. We could change her sheets and pillowcases, pull out an innocent stuffed animal bystanders. And when we put her back down and went back to bed and she threw up again, she called out in disgusted and anger, "I did it again!" I pulled her out of bed to sit with me on the couch and I learned last night that I could hand her a bowl and she, with very little assistance, would throw up into it. She could tell me when she was done and when she was about to start up again. And she's only two! She was one, like Theodore is now, then she was two. That's it! She's only two and she can already puke in a bucket! I am often quite amazed at how easy parenting a typically developing kid can be and I wonder at how I've made it so long the slow and painful way with Abigail. I do think it's one of the advantages of having her as my first born - there are disadvantages too - but in this case, it's just my normal to scrub the carpet on my hands and knees every time she's sick for five straight years.

Now that the girls share a room, Eleanor can alert me, "Uh oh! Don't touch, Abigail, that's yucky!" Or the ever-dreaded "Diaper change? Okay!" (Let's not even go into how often Abigail has managed to take her diaper off at night. I'd rather scrub up vomit than poop.) Anyway, after years of doing it on our hands and knees and/or borrowing my parent's steam cleaner, we finally bought our own and it's quite wonderfully easy now.

Anyway, I apologize for the typos and the grammatical errors. I had little sleep last night and I must sign off now without proper editing time. Wish me luck to get through today. And it's not even Friday!

16 January 2017

PPD - I'm winning

I'm winning in the battle against postpartum depression, guys. It's pretty awesome. I've been sticking with the supplements I learned about in The Mood Cure. I noticed an immediate end to the withdrawal effects of the antidepressant (SSRI), although I was "only" noticing symptoms 3-4 days per week. Plus I get all the benefits I the SSRI gave me - no depression, no anxiety, no insomnia, less anger, less obsessive compulsive tendencies. I used to be a morning person, but after Theodore, suddenly I couldn't stop hitting snooze, but now I can hop right out of bed again. When I forget a dose, I can feel my temper growing shorter and my anxiety start to rise, BUT I don't get any withdrawal effects like I did if I forgot to take the antidepressant. It is the author's goal that a person get herself back to normal and then cease supplements, so I won't be on them long term. In terms of side effects, I do get weird pockets of exhaustion and energy, and I'm not sure why. SSRIs make me tired to, so I just take them before bed, but these supplements work best when staggered throughout the day, so that's not an option. 

Abigail's bus is about to arrive, so I must sign off, but there you have a boring, little post. I did have a picture, but Eleanor is currently playing with my phone and nothing will convince me to take it from her and incur the hellfire that would result.

12 January 2017

Work In Progress

I always want to make things in my life perfect, as if once I achieve that maximum goal, I will no longer have to worry about anything. I strive to make things as maximally efficient as possible: the order I scan and bag things in my grocery cart to make loading the car and putting away the groceries as efficient as possible, the way I get the kids ready and get them in the car, the way I clean. We are going for maximum amount of work in a minimum amount of time. I dreamed of building a house with a floorplan that was as efficient as humanly possible.

When I lived in the apartment, I really wanted hardwood floors. We had them in Chicago and I vastly preferred them. Hardwood is easy to clean. The cat puked? The diaper leaked? The mud was tracked in? No problem for hardwood floors! I'd way rather sweep and Swiffer (mop) than vacuum, you can't vacuum when kids are sleeping, and does vacuuming even really get the carpet clean? I never feel like carpet is really, deeply clean. It's hiding all kinds of dirt and odor in its padding, I just know it. We have hardwood floors again, and while it solved all the woes from the apartment, wood brings with it it's own set of maintenance needs. The dining room chairs scrape away at the surface, requiring regular wax to protect it. It's harder for stockinged feet to grip it. It's more painful when kids fall down on it. I'm finding that when I sit with the kids on the wood floor, I'm stiff when I get up. The living room is generally less cozy. We don't spend much time in it, actually, we opt to go downstairs or into a bedroom where it's carpeted. So now I'm pricing out rugs so I can put a little square of dirty, hard-to-clean, comfortable, cushy carpet on top of the hardwood floor in the living room so that it will be cozier. This, I'm learning, is life. Or, at least life without a hired maid. Sometimes even when things are perfect and maximally efficient, there will still be downsides. Windows will always leak cold winter air, flower beds will always need weeding, dresser drawers will always need reorganizing. Even after 8 years of marriage and 5 years of kids, it's still sometimes hard for me to accept that no matter how amazingly I do the dishes today, I will have to do them again tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after. There will never be meaning and fulfillment in doing the laundry, So I need to stop focusing on doing it perfectly, maximally efficiently. I need to focus on the fact that I'm doing laundry because I love my family. Because I want to keep them healthy. I need the hour-long process that is folding and putting away a load with three kids to remind me that we are blessed enough to buy new clothes and shoes and have enough socks and underwear. I need to ceaselessly give thanks to God for even the smallest of blessings (this really warm purple sweatshirt I'm wear). Just like I never tire of hearing Matt tell me he loves me and I'm pretty, God will never tire of hearing me say, "Thank you for my Pinterest-pretty laundry room with laundry shoot located in the basement of the house I finally own."

10 January 2017

Mommy's turn.

I never know when returning from a long hiatus whether or not to address the break. "Hey, I've been gone forever, life got in the way!" I mean, yes, but no. Life got in the way, sure, but I found time to watch Battlestar Galatica seasons 1&2 after the kids went to bed. I read books. I bake bundt cakes. There's time, but it's going elsewhere because I don't know what to blog about anymore. We're saving up to finish fencing in our backyard. Theodore screams at the top of his lungs in the most headache inducing high-pitched screech all day every day. I am struggling with Abigail, she's five in age but not developmentally, and I'm really exhausted sometimes. And 2.5-year-old Eleanor can be the most fun, precocious little girl in one second and a terribly whiny brat the next. And then they all go off and play nicely together, sharing and taking turns and melting my heart. But the "motherhood is hard, balancing it all is hard, the work is worth the joy"  stuff has all been blogged about many times over by much more eloquent writers than I.

So I don't know what to say that is interesting, not too complainy, not too sappy, doesn't breach my kids' privacy, and hasn't already been written. So I give up, and turn to either crocheting or reading or changing another diaper or making dinner or making donuts and eating those for dinner. (They were red velvet with cream cheese frosting and I don't regret it.)

But I can't just sign off because my blog offers me two really awesome perks: My blog is a detailed, picture-filled, searchable baby book. It also keeps me writing. I don't get much story writing done during the week (shocking, with three kids in diapers, I know), and I like the little bit of dabbling I get to do in this space.

So here is a stab at a post. Boring though it may be, here we go.

I am intrigued by a lot of professions. I want to be a writer, a psychiatrist, a baker, a physical therapist. I think it'd be awesome to own a business, maybe a craft store. There are romanticize-able facets to them all: going out to lunch with an editor and pouring over manuscripts, studying the MRIs of stroke patients re-learning language skills, baking silky vanilla cupcakes and kneading yeast-y cinnamon bread when most people are still asleep. It all sounds so interesting! But primarily I want to be there for my kids. I want to snuggle them when they still have milky breath, I want to help them take their first steps, I want to teach them how to pray before they eat, how to recover when someone takes your favorite Sofia figurine. I want to help them make Valentines for school parties. I want to be here when they are sick or there is a snow day. I want to volunteer as a chaperone on field trips and talk about how school was over homemade cookies. I want to have time to teach them how to crochet and balance their checking accounts and defend their faith. So, God willing, I'm going to be a stay-at-home mom until my youngest kid's first day of college. 

But at the same time, I don't want to be one of those moms who loses her identity. I don't want to become one of those women who doesn't watch presidential debates, who doesn't have an opinion about Russian hacking scandals, who can't remember the last time she read a book, and who only goes out with her husband on their anniversary. I don't want to be lost after my kids grow up.

For a while now, I've wanted to dedicate myself to writing after my youngest kid starts school - something I can pick up and put down as flus and zoo field trips and summer vacations allow. I still like that plan, but lately I've been flirting with something else. Zumba. I've been taking a class for about 9 months now, and I really like it. The instructor is awesome and has built up a little community. When someone has a difficult pregnancy, she rallies up a meal train. When someone falls into a bad financial situation, she rallies up a food drive. It's an amazing little gym of love and support. And I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow I ended up getting "my own" song and whenever it comes on, the instructor calls me to the front to lead the class. I love it! I feel like a total bad ass! I envision myself someday getting certified to teach Zumba and then leading my own little class of awesome love and support. Maybe I could even offer a class once a week where we'd dance only to Christian music. I like that there are so many options available and that energy is not wasted only on the young.

17 December 2016


It has been two months since I last had an antidepressant, four months since I last took a full dose. And I still have withdrawal effects. I usually have about one a day, but lately I can sometimes get two or three days per week without symptoms. A friend recommend a book called The Mood Cure, which I immediately jumped on. I read it in two days, started following the diet by the next meal, and rushed out to buy the recommend supplements. I have a soft spot for alternative/nutritional cures.

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with a colon disease and put on a battery of medications. After a while they stopped working, so the doctor recommend I increase my dose. "You might have to take four in the morning and four at night, or five in the morning and five at night, or even six in the morning and six at night. Just keep increasing the dose until the symptoms go away." Six pills twice a day was twice the manufacturer's recommended amount. And the side effects of the medication were the same as the symptoms of the disease. I was floored. How long would I have to keep up this dosage? He didn't know. Would it ever go away? Probably not. What if I did nothing? I'd have cancer by my 30s or 40s. Frustrated and angry, I went to see a nutritionist my mom was raving about. I sat down and told her my diagnosis.
"Oh my husband had that," she said turning around to grab a reference book.
"What do you mean 'had that'? You can't get rid of it."
"Oh sure you can," she said, like I was complaining about an acne flair up.
She wrote out a diet and made a list of supplements for me. The diet was tough, no coffee, soda, alcohol (not that I was a big drinker at 19), whole grains, raw veggies, nuts, granola, chocolate (that was a tough one) and a few other things. I drank daily protein shakes, took fish oil pills, and had an intense probiotics lineup. One year later, I was completely cured. 100%. I occasionally get flair ups, especially when I'm pregnant, but I just go back on the diet and within a few weeks, I'm back to normal.

I tried all the doctor recommended alternatives for depression after my first three pregnancies (including the miscarriage), but, as you know, they aren't working this time around. I'm ready to get really alternative here, flirting with essential oils and wondering if I can stomach enough needles to try acupuncture, so after I read The Mood Cure, I was pretty stoked. So many symptoms of a deficient amino acid are things I've had my whole life and never know were related. The grinding of the teeth, the anemia, the hypoglycemia, migraines. If I lived in the "olden days," I'd be one of those women wasting away in her bedroom of "consumption." Or at least it feels like that sometimes. So I jumped into the deep end with both feet.

I woke up the next morning like a new woman, or, feeling more like myself than I have in a really long time. I was happy, like, really happy, I could hop out of bed in the morning instead of dragging, I skipped coffee and didn't even notice. I didn't lose my temper as I got Abigail ready and out the door to school. I handled Eleanor's terrible twos calmly. I was available for Theodore. It was amazing. I took my afternoon dose and was still on cloud 9. Until about 5pm. When I started having a bad reaction to one of the supplements. It got really bad. Matt had to take the next day off work because I couldn't get out of bed. It took a full 36 hours to recover. But I'm going to try again.

I'm not going to give up - the author acknowledges that some people do have a reaction and recommends a few alternatives. So I'm going to give myself another day to recover, then I'm going to try the supplements again, much smaller dose and one at a time until I can identify which one is bothering me. Then I'll eliminate the trouble-maker and try an alternative. I'm not giving up. I'm still praying Rosaries and reading Mother Theresa's book. I'll try everything I can think of, and if nothing works, I'll start over and try the list again. I can't resign myself to depression and I'm not ready to embrace an SSRI (at least not after 12 months after birth). I refuse to give up hope.