Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Little Pregnant Brain

Sometimes I am about to post a picture on Instagram and I find myself writing a huge caption. Then I think to myself that maybe I just need to write a blog post. My mind is calmed so much by making sense of things through writing. A verbal processor that will write when no one else is around. I think the main reason I stay on social media is my love for stories and writing stories. I am drawn more to the pictures on Instagram and the people who will write little tidbits of their life. Sometimes I am scrolling through Facebook and my mind feels numb. The opposite of connected through story.

This weekend, I will officially be in my last eight weeks of pregnancy until the due date. It's starting to happen. The organic orange juice we bought this week goes bad ten days before my due date. It's almost August, and then when people say how much longer I can say, "next month." I know all of the sudden it will be here. I am getting to the stage that I remember with Rosemary, but it feels even more extreme this time. I feel completely exhausted sometimes, almost sick in the morning... and then all of the sudden... BAM I clean the whole house. I am going to say this is nesting. I haven't set up a crib or really anything (we have a lot of "baby" things around from Rosemary, well the things we actually need). But what have I done? Well today I wiped the dust bunnies away from where the bookshelves meet the floor. And vacuumed the whole house and watered the garden. I feel almost insane. One moment I feel like crying because I literally wonder how I will make it eight more weeks. The temperature is reaching a hundred every day. My "project get outside" is more like "project go to the pool and have all the babies hang all over you." It's getting a bit tough. I start to panic in thinking if we just stay home all day I won't actually be able to sit down anyways... and I will try and clean and pick up and the girls will just make huge messes.

But what I am finding, and it seems to be pretty common, is that some days are just better than others. I am not always doing a whole bunch of things right or wrong to have a certain outcome. I know my girls are just one and three. They have good and bad days too. I also know my attitude and response can be really important. This morning I felt really swollen in my hands and arms, I felt weak but was also in a bit of an emotional panic similar to what I wrote above. Andrew is working tonight, and I knew I needed to get the girls out to the library to return a few things. I felt completely overwhelmed at how tired I was. I imagined Rosemary pulling every book off the shelf in five minutes. I was short with Blanche while we got ready and when she refused to get her hair brush I told her I was going alone and they could stay home with their dad. I went and started the car and she cried. Then I came back in and told her to come on. Andrew was brushing her hair, and he also hasn't felt well. Then Blanche cried that she wanted him to come too. I really wanted him to come too. You know,  just to hold Rosemary the whole time so I didn't have to. He was worried about starting lunch... all of this after a morning of us rotating naps because of being up so much with Rosemary who has been teething all of July.

We all ended up in the van. Blanche kept asking if it was a good day. I tried not to cry. I was just tired of being tired. Tired of never knowing how I will feel or survive each day.  (Which the reality seems to be largely based on how well my children sleep the night before and how rested I truly am). We happened to be at the library just in time for a great story time. We had never been to the library closest to our house. The lady who did story time was very animated with songs and felt boards. The story time was even geared toward ages eighteen months to three years. Both girls got puppy dog stamps. Everyone left feeling a bit better. Sometimes it's strange what just leaving our own house and seeing other humans can do to us. Maybe we broke out of our own little Nycum bubble and it helped to smile at a librarian.

Some days are just better than others. Sometimes I am super hormonal. Because I am super pregnant. And I need to know that it's okay. I said in the van earlier (the more dramatic and grumpy pre-library drive) that I guess I would just wean Rosemary. I said it out of exhaustion. I know deep down though that her night waking has very little to do with nursing. She will sleep nine pm to six am one night and then cry every hour the next. She's in pain and I can see her little teeth cutting through. Sitting in that story time today I almost cried as she held my hand with her little one. I know weaning would be okay. But I also know we both love the bond we have right now. She is just a year and half. I nursed Blanche a year longer. I know after the new baby I will have to take tandem nursing a day at a time, but it's okay to take things one day at a time now too. Andrew has been helping so much with Rosemary. He walks her in the night and puts her to bed when he isn't working. We are going to survive. Life is tiring and crazy but it isn't bad.

The first few pictures above are ones that Andrew took one morning while I slept a little longer. They love their little backyard. The girls have also taken a new love to car washing. They actually do surprisingly well for only being one and three. They will working and wash for a good twenty to thirty minutes.

I have really been trying to work on thankfulness in my daily life. And I'm not sure what it is I need to be doing now in this last stretch of pregnancy. I am thankful, but sometimes being so hormonal and tired can make my mind feel almost desperate. It's as if my pregnant brain takes in all my surroundings and elements of what must happen to care for two children in one day... and then does a evaluation of my energy level... and then it just doesn't line up. It does not compute. My little pregnant brain says, "Nope. You are way too tired to do even half of this. This isn't going to work." But thankfully my little pregnant brain is often wrong. I'm not stupid when I am pregnant. But being really tired can make a person not think as clearly as needed. Studies have shown pregnancy hormones literally do cloud the brain, making it hard to think critically and clearly. So for now, just one day at a time. I need to give myself permission to just focus on today. To not worry about how the week or month will look, but just get through today.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Finding Myself

This last week our family revisited Pedernales Falls State Park.  We had first visited in May of last year in this post. It's a bit wild to see myself wearing a little four month old last May, and now to have another toddler and be seven months into my next pregnancy. We also enjoyed visiting after all the flooding and seeing the changes it had brought to the area.

Going on adventures like this always revive me in ways like nothing else can. Packing our backpacks and sun hats and hitting the hill country roads, in the midst of parenthood and exhaustion. I am discovering that time out of the city and in large amounts of wild, just bring life back to my weary days. I think its pretty normal to be tired. I have a three and one year old. And I am thirty weeks pregnant. But being in the sun and watching Andrew and Blanche float down a river, it helps clear the noise out of my mind, it helps me to see all the beauty I know I own deep down. Andrew said that at one point floating with Blanche he sort of forgot who he was for awhile. Work was far off and it was just him and his little girl.

I love watching my girls explore. There is something inside of me that takes a step back at anything too new in the wilderness. Another country or culture and I'll be stupidly brave, but hiking and heights scare me more than I sometimes realize. When I first saw the fresh artesian well and the rapids it was making I envisioned both girls swept off their feet and somehow drug into water above their depth. Of course the world to my children is often unknown anyway, so they take small rapids in the wild as another fun thing to try. Both girls climbed up loose rocks in the midst of gushing water and made it to the top. They were totally unfazed. They help me remember so much of the time to simply observe and be there, but to not stop them from something they are capable of doing.

Today has been a long day. I felt like all morning I tried to sit down and then I was needed for something. I have been thinking all day, stuck in my mind and in my own little world, how I would write once they were asleep. Thinking of all the things I could say. But then tonight as I was cleaning up the kitchen something came to me. So much of the time I hear other mothers or people talk about "Not loosing yourself in motherhood," which I totally understand. Today I felt huge and pregnant. I felt like I smelled and there was no real way to feel like myself, mostly because I have this huge pregnant belly. I showered and even shaved my legs but once my clothes were snuggly back on and wet hair pulled back, I hardly felt pretty. I clean up messes and wipe a lot of bottoms all day long. I get why some women tell mothers to go get a coffee and get away from the kids. Go remember you are someone. But as I cleaned all the food off the floor tonight, my body ached as I bent over to scrub the kitchen table. I looked out the patio door to see Andrew watering the garden and the girls playing sweetly. Blanche had been inside earlier crying about not being able to make her Halloween costume tonight. Three year olds that don't nap can often run into this sort of problem. I was grouchy and knew Andrew was just as tired. He had worked and then came home and made dinner. I kept trying to shove everyone out the back door just so I could clean up another mess,  but this time in peace. But while I was cleaning I heard, "Find yourself in motherhood." Find myself. In the midst of pregnancy pains and hormonal mood swings. In the survival and perseverance of it all... find myself. Find my strength, find my voice to ask for help in the midst of weakness. Find forgiveness and humility.

When I am tired or really pregnant I start wondering what life without kids would look like. During the 4th of July I felt a bit sorry for myself after the fact. Andrew had worked until 1am that night, and I had cleaned a lot of poop out of a baby pool alone. I imagined sitting in a kayak somewhere in Austin watching fireworks with Andrew. Which maybe it would be way too crowded on the water for a kayak, but still. I thought about the fun things I would do living in Austin without having a whole bunch of babies. But, as Andrew mentioned, if it wasn't for our babies we probably wouldn't even live in Austin. And I probably wouldn't know much about how restored I feel after being in the wilderness. All of this to say, that just because I am a mom and my life is pretty wild during the day and not as wild as I would sometimes like at night or on the weekend... doesn't mean I can't learn more about myself. I am still changing and growing new passions. I just have to stop and see it. I have to remember to continue to find myself and not lose myself in the midst of motherhood.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Survival. Or perseverance.

This is what most of our month of June looked like. June was actually a little crazy. We started it in Arkansas on our way back from Missouri. We were able to stay with good friends and see many more while there for a few days. The girls and Rosa did a lot of playing. Blanche was just talking about Rosa today and was saying she was the tickle monster. Rosa liked to tickle Blanche. The only problem was Blanche didn't really want to be tickled. The three girls together were almost like sisters from the start. But we didn't have much time there for them to really get the rhythm of being together and getting along. Plus I'm sure it was hard for Rosa having a whole family invade her space and all her things. There was fighting, but also sweet moments of playing. Blanche seems to really miss Rosa and her momma Joy. We listen to a song that has lyrics that say, "Love brought me here. Joy brought me here." Blanche loves that part and always says, "Like Rosa's momma!" Our time in Arkansas was similar to our time in Missouri, too many people we really wanted to see and not enough time. Plus my tiredness and exhaustion seems to follow me from state to state.

Even when returning to Texas my tiredness has stayed more than I have wished. Of course we moved across the city the week after we returned. And maybe I did have more of that second trimester energy than I realized, but I used it up pretty quickly each day with trips to the park and cleaning around the house.

I love our new house and living in south Austin over the more northern suburb where we had been. Hopefully soon I can do a post of a few pictures and describe our space more for my friends and family that are far away but curious. But I will save those words and pictures for another day.

When I looked back at the pictures on my camera from this last month, I just saw it as the girls and I making it, just one day at a time. I am officially now in the last trimester. I am still measuring a bit big, but from what I was told from our recent sonogram, "baby is growing and looking fine." So, I am preparing myself to carry this baby boy through all of July, August and September. Even though this week I measured 31 weeks instead of 28. Every time I think through being pregnant for that long period of time I almost can't believe it will be possible. It isn't that I am so huge or in so much pain that I think I have no more room to grow... I just can't even fathom what I will be like come mid September. I guess I'm not even really waddling that much yet... so that will happen. But I already feel like I am slipping into a coma every afternoon. When we go outside my hands start to swell, and I just get grumpy because I don't feel like myself or very strong for the girls.

Grumpy is the word. Grumpy is how I have felt the last couple of weeks. I really feel that for the most part with this pregnancy I haven't been over emotional or super short with my family members. I give credit to the boy over a girl in my belly. But lately more tears are coming without warning and my patience is so much shorter. I think a big reason why this happens, and always seems to really be an issue at the end of my pregnancy, is that I am just tired of being tired. I get tired of heartburn from eating cheese... yes horrible heartburn from cheese the other night. I want to be myself again. I hate not having enough energy or how bad it hurts to squat down so many times in one day. I hate being short with the girls and feeling like a crazy hormone driven pregnant woman. I want my girls to have this brother, and I know the time of pregnancy really is short. I just want the girls to know I love them and really do try. And not to see me as scary mommy. Although sometimes I think that if I was really that scary maybe they would listen to me better...

Either way, all of this boils down to survival. I am surviving summer, and pregnancy, and motherhood... just one day at a time. Sometimes those days are spent with good friends in the sunshine, or at Gigi and Showpa's house, or at home while the girls and I desperately try and get along.

I don't think I'm a bad mom. Andrew tells me that I can't be everything for all of my children at every moment. And I know that. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I told Andrew there are just days that doing just the regular acts of the day are almost too much for me. Sure I could just put on four hours of shows for the girls in the morning... but I know that getting outside to the park is going to help our day. It will help me just as much as them. But at times it feels like I am using every little ounce of energy to stand and make lunches for the park over sitting on the couch. And I keep pushing uphill to get everyone dressed and out the door. But then by mid afternoon or dinner time I am just so exhausted. I have nothing left to give. I am short and tired and just want to scream or cry or go to bed at five pm. So the perfectionist in me feels that no matter what I do... I fail them a little. There literally isn't enough of me to preform in the ways I wish I could.

I am still reading and meditating on thankfulness. It has really been the only spiritual thing I have focused on for a few months. The other day though, I was reading about how thankfulness can take away the anxiety of the day. And I know it should have hit me harder than it did at the time. It does make sense though. The only way I can feel like enough is to not focus on all my shortcomings. I can't look at the ways I am not doing enough... but just stop and be thankful for what I am able to do. I am not on bedrest. That's something. Because I surely wouldn't be bringing them to a park or splash pad if I was. And maybe we eat out too much, but we are still eating. And we are all eating things we like. Just yesterday after a long day, Andrew brought burgers and fries home for dinner. We all sat and ate in the back yard with the girls in their swimsuits. They had been playing in their little pool while we waited for daddy. Just a couple months ago we didn't even have a yard or a place for a baby pool. The girls and I would have just been inside our apartment waiting for Andrew to drive his over hour commute home. Now it only takes twenty minutes. We skipped bath that night (hose water is almost like a bath just minus soap...) and we all laid around on our beds and played "don't wake the sleeping troll" and an Animal Memory card game.

There are reasons to be thankful. I'm not perfect. I have things to work on. But we all do. My kids are human and so am I. We will get through this. I need to pray for strength and my kids will learn that sometimes life is more difficult or more tiring in some seasons than others. I can choose to remember each day that no matter how many times I have been short or done something based off my hormones or tiredness... that I can always say I am sorry when I am wrong. And there is always time to encourage and uplift my children in what things they are doing right. No those good things doesn't erase or change the difficult moments... But it can still show them that I am trying. And that I do love them.

I may have cleaned up diarrhea from a baby pool on the night of the Fourth of July all by myself. And poop off the patio. And dealt with Blanche trying to learn to wipe herself tonight... while Rosemary was screaming about a baby doll that was in the washing machine. I was hit in the face with a cup during bath time, and a jump rope less than thirty minutes later. I wasn't listened to and have done what feels like forty loads of laundry. There are days I want to just say bye and go swim at Barton Springs alone. But I stay. And I learn more about patience and love. And we all grow. I learn to ask Andrew for help. And then he put Rosemary down to sleep two nights in a row. He laid her down "sleepy but awake" in bed, and I came in ten minutes later to find them both fast asleep.

Hardship brings perseverance and growth. This isn't something new. It is just new for me sometimes.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Our May Days in Missouri

Several of my previous posts have been from our time in Missouri. I feel like I've missed the month of June trying to recap everything we did in May. We really did see so much family. Growing up I never realized how lucky I was to have almost all of my family in a small little area of North Missouri. I think this makes family trips up to see everyone easier and harder at the same time. In the four full days we were up there we saw something like twenty family members at eight different houses. The girls really did great for how much we were on the go. Blanche was going to bed later, she would be wound up from the day, and still waking up just as early each morning. Plus my plan to let her nap in the car didn't work because everything was too new to drift off. I've learned from past experiences that children have to sleep eventually. It was the last couple of mornings there that we started seeing wake up times close to eight thirty or nine over seven.

The girls did great but like I wrote previously about our car trip, it was my own exhaustion that surprised me. I figured not having to take care of a house or do the normal chores would keep me energized enough to see everyone. What I had not realized was that sometimes the routine of my own life is what keeps me going. I actually missed my own little space and keeping it tidy. Since we have moved to Austin I have become more of an introvert. I like being home. And maybe it is partly due to being a stay at home mom these past few years, but I have gotten really use to it just being me and the girls each day. Andrew coming home is our big bang. So, seeing lots of family nonstop really did wear me out. But I had the urgency to also see everyone while we were there. I felt a bit disappointed with the lack of time and even the quality of time I was able to spend with everyone. Andrew told me while we were up there that sometimes you do have to sacrifice quality for quantity. I really enjoy spending good amounts of time with just one or two people, but I know that this trip was about bringing up the girls and letting everyone see them a bit. Which is really what we achieved.

I love my family. I grew up knowing my aunts really well, and one of my cousins is a best friend of mine. I love that going back to Missouri just means coming home and being surrounded with family. The girls did everything from crafts with my Aunt Larissa and Uncle Doug, to strawberry picking with my Aunt Pam and Uncle Mike, to games in Papa and Grandma's driveway, taking a bath with their cousin, going out to Meme's and having fried chicken, seeing Aunt Jordan's goat, and playtime at Nana's with all her fun toys. They played so hard for so many days. They were loved by everyone they met and were reintroduced to. The time really did fly but the pictures remain telling of how many happy times we were able to squeeze in, in just four days.

Andrew also reminded me that other long road trips and visits to family won't always involve me being pregnant, while also caring for a one and three year old. It almost felt like a dream to imagine a vacation with our children being elementary school age. But once again I was so thankful for all of my family and the love they poured out on us during our visit. I told some family that if I would have truly known the road trip was going to take 16 hours... I honestly probably wouldn't have done it. But the nice thing about just saying yes and going is that after the hard parts are over, I rarely regret taking a trip to see my family.