31 March 2015

Updates on books and nursing and girly girls

We are moving full-steam ahead with the book release! I am on target for Easter Monday. While it's exciting, it's also incredibly nerve racking. I'm suddenly filled with intense self doubt: I'm a terrible writer and my book is awful. The cover is bland, the title too similar to another Ds memoir on the market. I'm stricken with the conviction that making my family this vulnerable is a terrible idea and I'm a selfish brat for wanting to move forward.

That moment right before you see the finish line is the moment that fear will do anything to win.

Right now I'm refusing to pass the "talking stick" to that despairing part of me. I'm running ahead as fast as I can, trusting the me who did all that writing and editing. She worked hard for this, and I think her story is intriguing. I'm also clinging to every word in The War of Art right now, a book I totally recommend to any and all creatives.

Proof copies. And that little plush bear does have a cameo role in the book.

Abigail's new counting app is way more exciting that posing with mommy's book.

* * * * *

Nursing my second-born is officially a thing of the past. I tried to bring back my supply, but was unsuccessful. It took a good cry and a long run, but I finally came to terms with it. I even managed to find a hint of silver lining in my new reality: one less thing to stress about at my sister-in-law's wedding in May (my bridesmaid dress would not have been easy to nurse in). My biggest concern now is finding a way to prevent it from happening with our next baby. I have also noticed that the change in hormones that accompanies weaning has fueled a resurgence in postpartum depression. Of course.

* * * * *

One last bit. This one fun, I promise. I absolutely love delighting in the frilly pinkness of having two girls. Need I remind you of the greatest shoes in the history of shoes?

*Swoon* Okay. But have you ever wondered to yourself what poor Matt does with two uber girly girls? Well let me assure you, these two girly girls love to wrestle and have an obsession with sporty balls. 

Nothing makes Abigail giggle louder than playing chuck balls around and try to break things catch with Daddy.

27 March 2015

Uncertainty About the Road Ahead

Matt has been scoring some interviews lately, and the gamut of possible opportunities covers the board.

Just a bit of reminder background, Matt current position is only temporary. It currently runs until August of this year, but it could be renewed for a third and final year, which would buy us until August 2016. Chicago really isn't on the radar for us; the only foreseeable way we'd end up back is if Matt's boss from his post-graduate fellowship contacted him with a offer. While such is possible - Matt really liked that job and still stays in touch with the office - there isn't anything in the pipeline. I absolutely love Chicago and would give a lot to return, but Matt and I decided not to actively pursue anything.

The first interview (which he has today), is for a permanent position (yay!) about an hour and a half from where we currently live (boo!) in a really bad area (oi). I don't know how bad in terms of actual crime stats, but it's in what is known as the "crime corridor" than runs between two of America's most dangerous cities (Detroit and Flint). The job would include a raise and it's surrounded by very good areas and what Zillow claims are award-winning schools, but there is something about sending your husband off to work in the courts in one of the most dangerous areas in the country that gives a wife pause.

The second interview (which is in April), is for another temporary position. A two-year gig. I know what you're thinking: Why is this even an option?! Trust me, I asked Matt the same thing ("asked" is a nice way to put the vent session that occurred when I learned of the details). But it's a really good job for us. It's what Matt wants with a guy Matt really likes. And while it's only temporary, if he does well, the job is ripe with kick-ass opportunities for the future. This job is also an hour and a half from where we currently are - only 15-20 minutes from the first job, but the city is one of those surrounding good ones and it happens to house three of Matt's aunts. He has cousins who went through those school systems and would be able to give us an insider's perspective on good fits for Abigail.

We really don't want to move again and we really don't want to jerk Abigail around between schools (especially not during the school year - we don't know yet when either position would start). There are so very many moving pieces at this point that it is not even worth having a serious discussion about until we get past the initial interview stage. But every time he lands an interview, my mind starts buzzing with the road we'll take should this door open. It was a lot easier to make these decisions before we had to precious little girls whose vulnerable lives will be impacted by whatever we choose to do.

25 March 2015

Exciting News

Thank you all very, very much for the overwhelming response to my Down Syndrome Awareness Day post. The responses were so uplifting (They think I'm a good writer with insightful points!) and humbling (Who am I to have touched this many people?). I did get my sought-after tears - I consider a reader tearing up to be the ultimate compliment. I told Matt that I didn't think my post lived up to the hype I gave it, but I actually have gotten the most feedback to this year's email of all three years of awarness-ing it up.

Last week I promised you that a fun post would appear this week. I have good news. It is not a pregnancy, not a permanent job for Matt, and not a house. That leaves...

[I'm adding extra space here so you have time to guess.]

My book! I have decided to self publish it, and it will be available very, very soon.

I was initially very against self publishing, as I thought it overall cheapens literature. (When there are no barriers to entry, dilution is inevitable.) But about a month ago, Matt was telling me about an article that talked about how the publishing world is changing and no one can really predict the ways in which it will all shake out. I couldn't stop thinking about that bits he'd read to me, so one afternoon when Eleanor was napping and Abigail was in preschool, I sat down at the computer to do some more reading. I found this article most helpful for those of you in a similar boat. I learned:

- Some authors are self publishing books, building up a readership, and then going for a traditional book deal.
- It can take at least a year from the time you land a publisher to the time you see your book on the shelves. And it can take years before you land a publisher.

I combined that with bits of knowledge I already had:

- When I was writing my book, I followed the journey of another writer in the Ds community, who had an agent, really struggle to find a publisher who would take on her book. She heard over and over again that the Ds memoir market was tapped out.
- My rejection letters reiterated that same point.
- Submitting your materials to a traditional publisher is very time consuming and expensive. You have to craft a unique cover letter, print out a submission packet (mine was 23 pages), pay for postage for the large packet, pay for postage for the response letter.

By that evening, I found myself reading Amazon's self publishing terms and conditions.

So for the last few weeks, I've been reformatting my files into self publishing-friendly ones, designing a cover, and reviewing a tangible proof copy. The heavy editing work was completed before I started submitting to publishers.

While I don't think I'll be able to call myself a published author, I'm not exactly sure at what point I think one moves from "self published author" to "published author" in this brave, new world. I'm not even sure it's important to figure out at this point.

The week following Easter will contain an official release date, which I promise to specify as we get closer. I have just a wee bit more work to do and I don't want to rush anything. I can, however, give you this little sneak peak...

21 March 2015

World Down Syndrome Awareness Day! 2015 Edition

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Day! Today - 3/21 - is chosen because Down syndrome is diagnosed when 3 copies of the 21st chromosome are present. Please send this post along to anyone you'd think would benefit from hearing it. Today is all about awareness, so the more people who hear our message, the better.

A lot has changed since my email last year. Abigail gained a very typically developing little sis, Eleanor.

* * * * *

I line up Eleanor's little Fisher Price animals on the coffee table and she picks them up with a beautiful radial grasp, one at a time, and deliberately drops them to the floor. Then, one tiny hand clutching the edge of the table, she squats down until her chubby little thighs are parallel to the floor. She reaches out, changing her center of gravity, picks up the little giraffe, and pops back up into a standing position. She very carefully lowers him back to the table and lets go, her fingers spread wide. He falls over and Eleanor looks up at me and whines in protest. A moment later, she's back at, this time going after an elephant.

This is one of those classic "children learn through play!" moments we're always hearing about. Except her muscles are "learning" too. I mean, she's squatting for fun. The last time I did squats it was in a Jillian Michael's DVD and it was the opposite of fun. Her little fingers, her wrists - all getting in wonderful little training sessions. And the thing about these here typically developing kids - they grow exponentially. On the first day she ever squatted, she only did so a handful of times. The very next day she was doing a dozen three times a day. By the end of the week, you'd think she'd been squatting her whole life.

Whenever Eleanor first hits a new milestone, I just kind of stare at her awestruck. Every time it's another moment to thank God for the incredible genius that is a healthy human body.

And every day that I see Abigail struggle through another milestone is another moment to thank God for the incredible fight and resilience He endowed in the human mind.

Abigail did squats at that same coffee table too, but her scenario was a little different. I kneeled behind her so she could use my legs as a bench, my thumbs were pressed into her leg above her knee, offering just enough pressure to encourage her to use her quadriceps being careful not to over grasp and shut them off. My first fingers were just below her knees and prevented her from simply falling from a standing position, and my last three fingers on her calf muscle, forcing them to stay above her ankles. I'd often have mere seconds to move to stabilize her feet and ankles and get back into position before she'd fully gone from squatting to standing. There was usually a pile of blocks on the floor and a bin on the table, or sometimes a few crackers that she would have to stand up in order to reach. There was lots of coaxing and cheering and desperate pleading.

It would make for a nice story if I said that Abigail pushed through the pain and persevered, emerging victorious, but the truth is that it was as difficult as it sounds. She always protested, yelled, flung herself backward, her head slamming into my nose. She tired easily and we'd have to rotate through squats, tall kneels, and balance work, like circuits at a gym, all with their own special handhold. When I say that Abigail learned to walk with blood, sweat, and tears, I do mean that literally. But either way, the story ends the same: she is victorious and has the most beautiful squat that she can hold for an impressively long time.

As frustrated as Abigail felt, she did push and she pushed hard. It took awesome therapists and regular practice at home to channel that fight into a beautiful squat that would make even Jillian Michaels proud.

The human body is an amazing, beautiful creation - impressive when compared to the fastest, slimmest, latest computer the way a bonfire lords over a tapered candle. The healthy baby seems to defy physics in how quickly and perfectly it develops. When faced with challenges, we see the sheer force of the human mind as it creates a way to make it's defying body do as asked. The observation of the our bodies and minds give me a deep appreciation for God's brilliance.

Everyone is born with a hand of cards that they must play. Usually it is not fair and sometimes it hurts, but when we set them down with grace, we display the beauty of the human person, a direct reflection of The One Who made us.

19 March 2015

Her First Haircut and a Ds Moment

Abigail had her first hair cut yesterday. I totally didn't see this coming, but it turned into a Down syndrome thing. So in preparation for Down Syndrome Awareness Day on Saturday, I thought I'd warm us up with a little story.

So Abigail's hair was getting pretty long - more than halfway down her back, and, as is so often the case with fine hair when it gets long, it was looking pretty raggedy. It was also easier to get food stuck in and harder to take care of. I'd mentioned to my stylist a few times that I was thinking about bringing her in. But somehow, in the year and a half that we've lived in Michigan, Down syndrome never came up.

I don't know if that's hard to believe or not, but it really didn't. I don't avoid talking about Ds, but I don't make a point of mentioning it. If it comes up, it comes up. My stylist is chatty, but in the friendly, superficial chats one has with the person cutting her hair - "How is your family?" "Do you have any fun weekend plans?" "Why did you ever leave Florida?" - medical issues just don't usually come up.

Anyway, so when I finally booked the appointment, I made clear it was my daughter's first hair cut and everyone was very excited and the stylist even texted me the morning of the appointment with how much she was looking forward to it.



Am I the only one who thinks it's weird that businesses text their customers nowadays? Anyway, I prepped Abigail - "We're going to cut your hair today! Snip, snip! (*signing scissors*) Where's your hair? Yup! We're going to snip your hair with scissors today!" And I arranged to have her trim my bangs first, knowing that if Abigail saw Mommy do it first, the process would go smoother. Overall, I did expect things to go well (they did); Abigail is very, very shy and usually clams right up and sits very still around strangers.

When the stylist came back to get us, she had a big grin on her face. "Hello! Are you ready?!" As she got closer, her smile grew bigger, awkwardly large, and she held it for a really long time. "Alright, Abigail, let's go!" I cheerfully exclaimed. I sat Abigail down in a chair across from mine. The stylist could not stop staring at her. While she fumbled with the cape, raised up the chair, got our her scissors and comb. She just stared. I could totally tell what she was thinking. Does she have Down syndrome? Did Jacqueline ever mention that before? I don't think she did. I think she does have Down syndrome. How can I ask? There has got to be a way I can find out without sounding rude.

Finally, my unusually silent stylist asked, "How old is she?"

"Three years and ten months," I responded in my normal voice. Awkward silence. "So she'll be four soon." More silence. "She's really small for her age."

More silence. "Why is she so tiny?"

I shrugged. "We don't know."

It's true, we don't know why. I mean, people with Down syndrome generally are shorter than typically developing people, but that's not true across the board and Abigail is tiny even among other preschoolers with Down syndrome.

The stylist asked a few other questions, most of them coming across as unintentionally rude, but none of them ever getting her desired response of "Because she has Down syndrome."

"Can she talk?" Yes, she's very chatty but also very shy.
"Why are her checks so chapped? Is it because of her tongue?" No, she just has really sensitive skin.
"Is her tongue always like that?" Usually. Her tongue is normal sized, but her mouth is proportionally smaller.

I could have gone there, but the situation didn't warrant it. I don't want to walk around responding to the question of "Do you have kids?" With: "Yes, two girls and one has Down syndrome." I'm not going to introduce her to people, "This is Abigail, she has Down syndrome," because I don't walk around introducing myself, "Hi, I'm Jacqueline, I have depression and hypoglycemia." I was just there to get a hair cut. Her first, by the way.

When the stylist got Abigail situated, broke out her scissors, and started snipping away, she kind of mellowed out a bit (although she never did act completely normal) and Abigail ended up with a light, fun, summery new 'do: 

It is a tad bit shorter than I ordered, but there is only so much you can plan when a three-year-old is getting her first hair cut. It came out looking 100 times better than I could have done and only cost me $5, so it was worth it.

I don't tell this story to make a point or put on display a person who is clearly stumped in the face of "different," but to get people mulling over the kind of situations that still occur in our relatively wealthy, tolerant, democratic society. I hope that people imagine themselves in the barber shop with us and think about what they would do. It is my advice that they simple imagine that Abigail is a little blonde toddler and proceed like normal. Like the nail tech lady giving manicures who smiled politely and wished us a good evening. I get the impression she isn't a big fan of kids and that's totally fine - she was still friendly and respectful. Or like the fellow mom walking across the salon after getting a shampoo who stopped by our chair: "Is this her first hair cut? She's so cute!"

When she said that, Abigail turned back toward the mirror and beamed at herself. She's old enough to know when someone's delighting in her. I pray and work so that enough posts will touch enough people in our little circle so that our home and our community is never a place where she doesn't beam at herself.

17 March 2015

Race Day Preparations

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Life, my friends, is finally back to normal. Nothing makes you appreciate the mundane like having your car totaled.

This Saturday is Down Syndrome Awareness Day, and I'm working on my annual letter. I came up with the topic a few months ago (I honestly start thinking about it around December), and am spending a few days carefully crafting and editing it. On March 21st, I'll blast it around social media and email it to every person in my contacts. (Hey real estate agent, you showed us a house two years ago - be Ds savy!) Each year I've managed to eke a few tears out of someone, which I consider to be the ultimate compliment. I also have a fun post planned for next week (you're not going to want to miss that one!), so in light of all these more formally crafted posts, I'm going to just be frivolous today. I promise, lots of pictures.

I love running.

I suck at it. But I love it anyway. I started running a few months after Matt and I got married when I gained the Honeymoon 15. (That's a thing, right?) I ran in Florida, then I ran in Florida with a jogging stroller, I ran in Chicago around Matt's work schedule, I run where we live now - there is even a nice trail that runs through the length of the city limits through wooded areas by a creek.

But like I said, I stink at it. I'm slow. I usually run 1.5 miles three times a week. I take "long runs" of 2-2.5 miles once or twice a month. For quite a while I've wanted to run a 5K, but I always found excuses to avoid whichever ones I stumbled across. "I can't train in time." "That one is too expensive." "That's free resident day at the local zoo/aquarium/museum." "It might rain in some part of the world that day." But you know how when you really want to do something but you're afraid and so you keep postponing it, it starts to eat away at your self esteem? Yeah, that was happening to me. I now need to run a 5K. To prove to myself that I can.

A few weeks ago, a friend (and my Godson's mother!) mentioned that she was planning to run a 5K in May for autism awareness at park we frequent. I got that little flash of "this is meant to be" intuition. The date was clear on my calendar, so I told her I would run it with her before I could chicken out. It's a recipe for success: I can't back out on a friend, it's two weeks before my sister in law's wedding - so you know I'm going to be hard core about working out anyway, and I have many friends with children on the spectrum who would benefit from the cause.

With everything set in stone, I got nervous. I train in the evenings after the kids go to bed, but I need a way to further my goal during the day! And with all the car drama, I wanted something more fun to think about. So...I started planning out my race day outfit.

I know, heavy-hitting.

First things first. I needed expert advice. So I bought a magazine.

Yes, I know.

I think it was Runner's World (the girls have since ripped the cover off) and it had a shoe finder chart/graph quiz. Personalized chart/graph quizzes always get me.

I decided at the end of the fall last year that I needed new running shoes this spring and had tucked away some Christmas money for a new pair. I made and sold a few crochet projects and saved up my free spending money (Matt and I budget allowances for ourselves), and managed to save up a nice little bundle of cash for my new shoes. I carefully studied the quiz and all my ideal shoe results and came up with three styles I found most appealing. I went to a store specializing in performance footwear and sat down with a sales rep who did a foot and ankle evaluation and gave me tons of information about what I most need in a shoe. (As it turns out, the shoe finder chart was surprisingly accurate!) She pulled a few shoes out for me to try on and the third one was the charm.

I know, shockingly redpinkorange. I really, really didn't want to restrict my options by available colors. I opted for the Brooks Launch 2 - they are a good mix of cushion in the heal and fitted around the foot. I also found out I overstride. Like, a lot. The store offers a free class twice a week in the evenings that goes over good form, so I plan to hit one of those up. Maybe, just maybe, with better form I'll be able to make my goal of finishing the 5K in 35 minutes.

Okay, shoes? Check. Outfit? In progress.

Since I've been running for a few years now, I've amassed a decent collection of running gear. I find that the Old Navy clearance rack and sales at Target offer the best prices. My favorite running pants are starting to get a little too loose (yay!), and the waist-band-rolling-down-while-running thing is getting annoying, so I need to find a new pair or figure out how to take them in. (I over-budgeted for the shoes, so I do have extra cash for new race-day gear.) In terms of shirts, I have two favorites. One is simple cotton but perfectly matches my shoes, the other is one is a fitted, moisture-wicking style. I want to avoid looking like a race-day tourist and I'm afraid both scream "newbie who is trying too hard!"

Oh goodness, can you believe I seriously waste energy on this? In all honesty though, I think it's healthy to have something light and rather meaningless to work on. Ya gotta have fun and thinking about nail polish racing stripes and headbands makes for a rather nice break for this type A-er.

Too touristy? I think the racing stripes might be too touristy.

Eleanor seems to prefer the neon.

Either she's selecting it or stealing it so I'll wear the slimming black.

The race is in two months (minus one day), so I still have plenty of time to prepare. I promise to keep the training posts to a minimum.

How're my treads, Runner Baby?

13 March 2015

Today Was a Good Day

Today I got my first "your kids are too close in age" insult. I was actually pretty proud when it happened. It's always my friends who get the "I care too much about your sex life" comments (you know: "Are they all yours?" "Don't you know what causes that?") All the "teenagers shouldn't have babies" comments I used to get with Abigail have since dried up. So I was actually pretty stoked when the elevator doors closed and she turned to me. "Oh, wow. Mine were farther apart."  In her defense, I don't think she intended it to be rude. The funny thing is that she didn't even ask how old the girls are!

I didn't say anything to her. I just stood there with an unamused stare. I find that for someone like me, an introvert who is not quick witted, the best thing to do is to allow awkward silence to work its magic. The magic is extra powerful when the other person is trapped on an elevator with her awkward silence. When we reached our destination, she bolted out the doors and stayed at least five steps in front of me all the way to the parking garage.

* * * * *

Fridays are always a bit tough for us. It's the only day Abigail doesn't have preschool, so my regular Monday - Thursday routine isn't viable. Plus with no basement or backyard and treacherous sidewalks to the nearest snow-covered park, Abigail goes stir crazy stuck in our apartment. Keeping her quiet during Eleanor's twice daily naps is a challenge. (It's made even more fun by the fact that the girls' room and the living room share a wall). So on Fridays, I try to throw the girls a curve ball. I schedule appointments for that day (hence the elevator encounter), maybe run an errand when my car isn't totaled, or break out a toy they haven't seen in a while (like last week's teepee ball pit). Fun diversions mean Abigail is more likely to color or play with play dough when I need her to be quiet.

So before today's doctor appointment, we went to Target. Of course, I went in needing, like, three things and came out with five bags.

In my defense, one of those bags is stuffed with the coats we wore out that morning!

They had a generous rack of clearance shirts, Easter sweaters on sale (Paring new sweaters with skirts they already own will be cheaper than buying new dresses! I reasoned as I threw them in the cart), and Abigail had a month's worth of allowance ($10) she'd been saving up for some Curious George DVDs ($5 a piece - regular price - at Target). They must have just gone through the store and marked down all the merchandise for clearance because in a stack of clearance shoes, I found the greatest shoes in the history of shoes.

Rainbow sequin high tops with purple sparkly laces. In Abigail's size. I managed to get a pair in the cart before I swooned.

I think it's crazy how kids develop a style all their own, even while they are so young that we pick everything out for them. Abigail's style is definitely pink, pink, pink, sparkly, hot pink, hot pink, sparkly, pink, and sparkly.

Oh my goodness. Anyway, we got home, napped, snacked, and needed another diversion. There is still snow piled on the sidewalk, but we decided to venture out for a stroll anyway. And we took Cat.

No, seriously. We took our cat for a walk.

I put on her cat harness (yes, seriously), and stuck her in the basket beneath the stroller. She meowed like she was going to the vet the entire time, which the girls thought was the funnest thing ever. When it's Cat's time and her life flashes before her eyes, I am certain that she will see this moment.

I tried to snap some selfies with the girls, but Abigail kept purposely leaning out of the picture and Eleanor didn't understand why she couldn't eat Teddy Grams while selfie-ing.

Abigail's "not amused" face: 

The pediatrician at Eleanor's latest wellness visit is concerned that she's eating above her pay grade and is a bit delayed in speech ("Do you think Eleanor can hear?" She asked me). But my mommy gut? It tells me she is so totally fine.

09 March 2015

Plugging Along

Instead of turning into a terrorizing stink bomb, Abigail has become a little snuggle bug this daylight savings time. She sits down on the floor with her blanket, arranges it very neatly over her lap, and holds her arms up to be picked up. She just wants to snuggle up with her head on my chest and let me play with her hair. It is a wonderful little break from real life. We still haven't gotten the new car yet, the check we were promised on Friday was rescheduled to today - although it is not yet in my hands, Eleanor has new teeth popping through, and I'm still struggling to get my milk back. I am lining up all the tasks we had to postpone when the accident occurred. Orthotists, dentists, etc. It all...just is and it's plugging along and I have no exciting breakthroughs to report.

So here, instead, are random bits of our non-accident-related life.

Eleanor, who will be ten-months-old tomorrow, is already obviously right-handed. Abigail, who is 3-years and 9-months-old, is not letting on to which side she'll prefer. She throws left-handed, but writes with both hands. Maybe she'll be ambidextrous?

We made a teepee ball pit last week. Abigail threw the balls out, Eleanor put them back in.

The weather is warming up - highs reaching into the 30s and 40s - and the ample sunshine is making for some excellent puddle walks (walks in which you wear water-proof shoes and tromp through snow-melt puddles). The girls and I are incredibly excited to get out for these little walks. Nothing like a little sun and fresh air to boost the spirits.

In seven short weeks, it'll be my seventh anniversary, and then two weeks later, it'll be the girls' birthdays, so I'm at the point in the timetable where I excitedly brainstorm ideas. An anniversary hike? A birthday trip to the Detroit Zoo? What is a good dinner for the world's pickiest four-year-old and a one-year-old? Would they rather have cake or ice cream for dessert? How can I use the traditional gifts of wool and copper to convince Matt to buy me a house for our anniversary? These, my friends, are the questions I ask myself when I am on hold with the insurance company.

Cat knows she is very lucky. She knows she can always trust Abigail to ensure she gets her fill of cat treats.

06 March 2015

More Bad News and Some Perspective

I have two bits of good news, one bit of bad news, and one big bad news.

The first bit of good news: we liked that manual gray Fusion that I mentioned earlier enough to buy it. We put a deposit down to hold it and are waiting until we get the money from the Focus to finalize the purchase. The bad news? Geico promised the check by today, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen, which means another stressful weekend of driving the truck and avoiding small parking lots. It's been exactly two weeks since a careless driver smashed into me and I'm still dealing with the fall out.

The second bit of good news? I finally figured out why Eleanor has been so fussy lately. And I mean, really fussy. Like it's not enough that she got into a car accident, caught a cold, and had a yeast infection. We solved all those problems, but she was still incredibly inconsolable. Screamed like she was in physical pain whenever I put her down, even if I was just sitting next to her on the floor. The constant crying has been very draining and has sent me into a depression.

Now for the big bad news: my milk dried up.

I don't know if it's because she stopped nursing at night, the stress of the car accident, the mastitis, or the perfect storm of all three happening within one week of each other.

There is still a little bit of milk left, but for three days I've had no idea what has been bothering her, so I continued breastfeeding like normal and that hasn't done anything to help.

When this happened with Abigail, I tried everything, all to no avail. I have a lot of very painful memories of waking up every few hours at night to pump, carefully scheduled power-pumping sessions, daily calls to a lactation consultant, drinking cups of tea, trying various pills, and of hopes dashed over and over again. Because Eleanor is almost 10 months old, I don't think it's worth it to relive those. If she were younger, it'd be a different equation to consider. I'm going to continue to nurse her regularly, and offering a bottle afterward. But my hopes are low.

It was very difficult for me when I first realized what the problem was. I was in a pretty dark place. Breastfeeding is something I really, really wanted to do. I tried so hard. Made so many medical decisions based on how it would affect my ability to breastfeed. It's really hard to deal with the fact that it was all ripped away from me before either Eleanor or I were ready.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine adopted a baby. She had the baby a few months, but before the adoption was finalized, the mom changed her mind. And my friend lost her baby. Her first and only child. And she praised God. She thanked him for the time she had.

I've been thinking about her and her story a lot lately, as she lost so much more than me yet maintained some joy in her heart in the midst of the pain. Life is beating the shit out of me right now, but I still have blessings to count. And joy to maintain. It's a careful balance: acknowledging my pain, but keeping it in perspective. I will persevere.

This friend's story does have a happy ending. The baby's mother un-changed her mind and the child was returned to my friend, where he now happily, permanently, resides.

04 March 2015

Spread the Word to End the Word

If you overhear someone use the word "r-word," remind them that ""retarded" doesn't mean "stupid," "lame," or "worthless." Because she isn't stupid, lame, or worthless.

02 March 2015

Running in Sand

I wish I could say things are getting easier around here, but they're not; I'm really just solving old problems at the pace in which new ones are arriving. We're trudging through depths of thick, suction-y mud. I feel like I'm running on sand - so much energy just to keep pace. I am certainly glad all this is happening during lent though, suffering during the season of penitence. Offering it all up for my family and all the prayer requests my friends post on Facebook.

We have a plan in place that should land us a new (used) car this week. My brother-in-law is very generously lending us his pickup truck for as long as we need it, but driving it is intimidating. A Focus next to a pickup is like a kayak next to a yacht. It took me a few rounds, but I'm finally comfortable driving. Parking it is another story. I'm avoiding all places with small or tight parking lots until I'm back in my little sedan. No chiropractors or orthotists or yarn runs for us.

There are two bits of good news in all this, though. Eleanor is continuing to sleep in her crib in "the girls' room" without problem. She sometimes wakes up once to nurse. That's it. Getting regular full nights' sleep in the midst of all this mess has been a huge relief. I don't even want to think about how much more challenging all this would be if my brain was fried. Secondly, I haven't gained weight. Normally I stress eat my way through life, but we gave up eating out for lent, so I find myself making eggs instead of asking Matt to pick up a pizza on his way home on bad days. Plus being scared to park a giant truck makes runs to the grocery store for chocolate less appealing.

Well, that is honestly all I have right now - I don't even have a cute kid picture to post. I just wanted to pop in and say something.