Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From the heart

Today I do not feel like reflecting on an interesting quote, detailing a log of daily family events, or sharing a funny story. Today I feel like writing from the heart.

Maybe that's what I should have been doing all along.

Meet my friends, the shoulds and should nots.

Yesterday I attended my first La Leche League meeting, and I met a wonderful group of ladies. My first thought, "I should have come here sooner!"

After participating in an uplifting and informative meeting about common breastfeeding challenges, I perused the library of books. I came across What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen. I thought, "this might be interesting," so I turned it over and read the back cover.

"Have you ever spent all day looking after your baby or young child-and ended up feeling that you have 'done nothing all day'? (by this time my eyes started to water) Do you sometimes find it hard to feel pleased with what you are doing, and tell yourself you should achieve more with your time? (then I had to swallow the rock in my throat)

Maybe it's because you can't see how much are are doing already." (*sniff sniff)

There was more, but after evoking such an emotional reaction from me, I decided to open the book to the table of contents.

Immediately my eyes fell to Chapter 6: 'I get nothing done all day.'

That was it. I decided I needed to read this book.

I have noticed that I have started to answer the phone when Robbie calls with, "I haven't done a THING today." Or I'll answer his questions about what I have been up to with, "Nothing. Absolutely Nothing." or "Just sitting around." Maybe I'll add, "Just sitting around feeding a baby." But that's when I'm in a GOOD mood.

Laundry piles up around me even though I feel as if I am ALWAYS doing laundry. My baby is five months old. Shouldn't I be keeping up with this by now? My apartment is a wreck. Shouldn't I be able to keep my tiny apartment spotless by now? After all, other mothers do it. Other mothers have bigger homes than I do, and they can keep it clean. Why can't I? My baby cries, and sometimes I just can't figure out what she wants! Shouldn't I understand her by now? Other mothers do! Other mothers have their pre-pregnancy figures, have time to exercise, have perfectly clean houses, have content children, magnify their church callings, go to school and/or work, look absolutely gorgeous, have time to read scriptures, pray, shower and eat all in the same day, make time for their husbands, cook healthy delicious meals, have social lives, never lose patience and are always happy! Shouldn't I have the hang of this whole being a mom thing by now? After all, I only have ONE child. And I hear she's in the easy stage. What am I going to do when she is in the hard stage?

I am not looking for more shoulds or should nots, advice or criticism. Supposedly this book fits in with my requirements. The back cover mentions my friends, the shoulds and should nots.

"What Mothers Do has been written to support mothers. Rather than trying to tell you what you should or shouldn't do, it can help you to recognize much better many of the nameless, everyday things that mothers keep doing which usually go unnoticed."

With the help of my dear, sweet husband who always tries to open my eyes to the incomparable importance of motherhood, and this book, I hope to improve my attitude toward what I do all day! I hope I can heal my heart of all the negativity and sadness that has so quickly and easily set in since my daughter's birth. I just don't understand how there can be any room for those feelings when I feel such joy, gratitude and happiness with her in my life. One would think there is way too much cuteness and sweetness in my life to have room for anything else! I should be thankful for my blessings!

There I go again, with the shoulds! Hopefully sooner, rather than later, I'll be able to sincerely mean it when I answer the question, "What have you been up to today?" with a strong, "I made my baby girl feel safe, wanted and loved. Today, I was a mother!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Doula Deliberations: Misty Eyed

As I continue this journey to try to prayerfully, emotionally and intellectually decide if this is something that I truly want to do, and I found myself becoming misty eyed while continuing to read The Birth Partner. Why do I have such a reaction when I read, learn and ponder the miracle that is birth? I love learning about this!

The quote of the day is, "The doula does not make decisions for the two of you, or project her personal preferences on you, but she helps you get the information you need to make good decisions. Her goal is to help the mother have a satisfying birth as she defines it. (emphasis mine)" (Simkin 9)

I had a friend refer to my birth experience as a "dream birth." Yes it WAS a dream birth! I could not have asked for a better experience. However, I think she may say that because my attitude and perception of my experience allows her to make that assumption. Would she say the same thing if I would have said, "I do NOT want to go through that again. It was terrible and the most painful thing I've ever experienced in my life." Even if events unfolded in the exact same way, I think that my labor would no longer have been considered a "dream labor" if I hated the experience.

I believe the number one reason I want to become a doula is the quote above. I wish every woman could have a satisfying birth! No matter if the birth is unmedicated in the woods somewhere or a planned c-section, I want women to leave birth happy and satisfied with the experience and ready to face the new challenges of motherhood. In my opinion, birth is something like an initiation into motherhood. Birth takes the mother on a "quick" journey of many of the joys and struggles mothers face: anticipation, wonder, joy, amazement, doubt, discomfort, and accomplishment just to name a few! All are experienced in birth!

I never knew how much giving birth would change my life! I never would have guessed I would want to share this with others. I am so thankful that I had such a wonderful journey with my pregnancy and birth, and it fills me with joy to think back on sharing this experience with my darling baby girl! I love birth! I love being a mom! And I hope I can share this with others one day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I said a real prayer today

Today is one of those days that I just feel like writing.

I love peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Robbie thinks they are gross, and my friend Lauren likes to laugh at my method of eating them. Oh yes. I have a method. You see, it is not enough to merely take two slices of bread, smear peanut butter on both sides, squeeze a little honey on the peanut butter and smash the two slices together. No. I like to take the ENTIRE loaf of bread in one hand with the honey clasped between my thumb and index finger of the same hand. I place the HUGE jar of peanut butter under my arm and hold it into my side with my elbow. With a butter knife on my plate that I grasp in the peanut butter hand and a tall glass of milk that I hold against my body-somehow-usually with my forearm of the honey hand squished against my belly-I carefully walk (roll step for those experienced in marching band) to a comfy chair in front of the TV. I carefully arrange the plate on my lap with the rest of the ingredients placed on a TV tray to my side. I open the loaf of bread and pull out one slice. I smear peanut butter on the slice, pour honey onto it, fold it in half, and eat. And eat. And eat. When I was in college, half a loaf would be demolished in no time. Now, I eat about 4-5 slices or 2-2.5 sandwiches before I get full. It's probably still enough peanut butter and honey to feed a small army, but hey, I'm still eating for two right? (Breastfeeding, people, breastfeeding)

Before I enjoyed my lunch, I said a prayer and read scriptures. Now why is this such a big deal? Honestly, it has been several weeks since I dropped to my knees to say a prayer. Oh, I'll say little prayers in my heart all the time, and we have family prayer every day. But I have not given myself an opportunity to say an honest-to-goodness, drop down on my knees, prayer. I allow myself blogging time or facebook time, but prayer? Not so much. I still don't understand WHY this happens. If prayer is SO important to me, why do I treat it that way? Maybe the same reason I'm meaner to my sweet husband than I would ever DREAM of being to anyone else. I'm not saying that I'm mean to him all the time, but I have my unfortunate moments. I really WANT to say my prayers everyday. Don't I? At least I think I do. But...I. Still. Don't. I don't understand it, but today I just decided, after folding a load of diapers and putting them away, that, right NOW, this VERY MOMENT, I have TIME to pray! I dropped to my knees and said a prayer to our Heavenly Father.

It wasn't earth shattering. I heard no angels singing and had no revelations. I was just thanking Him for my wonderful family and other rich blessings that He has given me to enjoy. In fact, I had to cut my prayer short because suddenly I heard, "This is a number THREE, boop boop boop," from the little toy Lily scooted to while my eyes were closed. But...

I did it. I said a real prayer today, and that makes me happy.

I decided to be even more ambitious after my prayer and read two chapters in Leviticus. Again, nothing earth shattering, but I did it. And that makes me happy. It has been a goal of mine to read the entire Old Testament from cover to cover. It. Is. Hard! But I will do it.

Hopefully I can do this again tomorrow. I don't see any reason why I can't, but there has never been a reason I couldn't before. I just don't. I have gotten out of the habits I set for myself long ago. I am bold enough to admit that my prayer and scripture study habits have not been what they used to be since I got married. All of a sudden I have to share my space with another human being, and I haven't quite figured out how to manage my personal time. I'll get there.

I'm choosing not to beat myself up right now. I am extremely good at verbally abusing myself, but at this very moment, I don't see any good it does. This is not to say in an hour, I won't go back to saying mean things to myself, but RIGHT NOW, I am going to forgive myself for my imperfections. I am going to forgive myself for being late to church every week since Lily was born. I should have the hang of this by now, right? She's five months old! Well, I don't. Oh well. We'll get it. I'm going to forgive myself for being too ashamed to go in the chapel after showing up late to church. AGAIN. At least I have an "excuse" (I like those) for missing Sunday school all the time. I'm feeding Lily. Sometimes I make it to Relief Society. I don't allow myself to enjoy it as much because I am usually beating myself up for missing so much of church already. For right now, I am forgiving myself for ALL of that. This is not to say that, come Sunday, I won't be feeling like a horrible person because I just couldn't peel myself out of bed until 7:45 even though I KNOW I need to get up at 7:00 in order to make it on time.

I suppose this is not really a post showing my faults as a member of the church (I have too many to count) but more about trying to conquer the negative self talk. It is not easy. Anyone who knows me knows that I do this. The object of my negativity has been my church attendance and membership lately. When I was in college, it was my flute playing. Now that I'm a mother, it's my housekeeping, cooking, church attendance, motherhood, and spouse skills. I worry about my stretch marks and belly pooch.

Why do I worry so much? Why do I so quickly and easily beat myself up. And why, oh why, does it happen so much more now that I have a baby when I've experienced more joy than I have ever known with my dear, sweet Lily?

I guess, one day, I'll know.

For now, I'll just enjoy being happy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Doula Deliberations: Do I really want to do this?

"How a woman gives birth matters-to her baby, her family (including her relationship with her partner), and to her self-confidence and self-esteem as a woman and a mother."

-Penny Simkin in The Birth Partner

I left my birth feeling excited, high, empowered and ready for motherhood. I had such an amazing experience and left WISHING I would have chosen to be a doula as my career of choice. So how does the saying go? It's never too late!

To become DONA Certified, they suggest that you complete the required reading before pursuing any other steps toward certification to see if this is something you really and truly want to do. I purchased The Birth Partner while I was pregnant for Robbie to look through, and I read it to prepare my mind to cope with labor. I will read this book from cover to cover from the doula's perspective rather than the pregnant woman's perspective at this time. I am excited to record my reflections and discoveries! This will be one crazy journey but one I am eager to experience!

Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mama

Everything that happened to me and everything that I did for the last week and a half I did for the sake of breastfeeding my daughter. Here is the incredibly LONG story that I will try to keep as short as possible.

October 21st I decided would be the day I would spend driving to Denham Springs. Once I got there, I was able to see my Aunt Shirley, whom I have not seen for over 14 years, and Lily was finally able to meet her Pyran.

Lily playing with Pyran

Before Aunt Shirley left on Friday to go to a class reunion in Jonesville, LA, we took several pictures. She is another aunt that Robbie would probably call my "real mother."

Early Saturday morning, my mom, Lily and I left for Alexandria, LA for a Rapides Symphony concert in which I was playing. We stayed with Mom's cousin Patricia and her husband. This was the first time I or Lily met this part of our family.

Aunt Shirley, Lily, Me, Patricia and Mom

Everyone decided to come support me at my concert, which was nice. Mom selected the next day, Sunday, as our travel day back to Denham Springs. Before we were going to pack to leave, Aunt Shirley decided to pop in for a surprise visit at Patricia's house. Well we HAD to stay. When she got there, we decided to go to another cousin's house. When we made it to Lynn's house (the other cousin) we stayed for awhile and ate gumbo. Lynn's son and his girlfriend, my great Aunt Sarah, Patricia and her husband Larry, Lynn, aunt Shirley, Mom, Lily and I were all there enjoying gumbo. After a few hours we were ready to go. Before we left, I packed Lily in her car seat and was searching for my phone in Mom's purse. Patricia's husband, Larry, who I met for the very first time this weekend, decided to come up behind me and yank my pants down. So, for the first time in 27 years that happened to me by a man who is twice my age. How nice. I'm still deciding how to proceed in this matter, as I later found out that he likes to do that to kids as a joke. If he pulls their pants down in public, what in the world does he do in secret? I guess he did not realize how old I am, even though I'm a married woman with a baby. My mom said my appearance of innocence must have gotten to him.

Well, needless to say my mom, Aunt Shirley, Lily and I left for Denham Springs in a hurry after that.

Before we left for Denham Springs, and before "The Incident" I was able to get a picture with all the Cockerham women.

On Monday, Faith and Darryl stopped by to visit with Lily for a little while.

Lily and the Malletts

On Tuesday, my FIL's fiancee took me shopping, which was pretty fun. I was able to rack up for pretty cheap at a store called Rue 21.

Wednesday and Thursday I spent practicing. Tchaik 4 is definitely not sightreading material!

Friday my mom, Lily and I packed up and headed to Alexandria again for another concert with the Rapides Symphony called "Shadows and Light." Now, just to make it clear, my mom would go with me to watch Lily during my rehearsals so I could nurse the rest of the time. The whole reason for going to Denham Springs, for staying with family, and for having my mom go with me is so I could continue to give what I consider to be the best thing for her-Mama Milk through breastfeeding.

Because of "The Incident" the previous weekend, we stayed in the hotel the symphony provides. On Saturday, between the rehearsal and concert, we had plenty of time for visits. This was when Lily got to meet her Great Grandmother Ingeburg and Great Aunt Melanie for the first time.

Mawmaw and Lily

Melanie and Lily

They were able to support me during my concert. That was a very interesting experience. I could not pump quite enough milk for my mom's comfort during the concert, so I brought my pump with me back stage. During the second piece that I did not play in, I ran to the dressing room back stage and pumped. During intermission I ran out to the lobby to give my mom the milk. After intermission I got to play Tchaik 4. Fun times! Remember? Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mama.

After the concert I was able to take a couple of very meaningful photos.

Four Generation photo

Three Generations: Big Smiles!

Because I did not think we would be able to celebrate Halloween due to the concerts, I did not bother buying her a costume. Robbie and I really wanted her to be a monkey, but for various reasons, I did not get around to buying her a costume. To make a long story short, we WERE able to go trick or treating and Linda and Mr. Wendell found her the best costume they could at the last minute.

My cutie pie all ready for trick or treating

And Monday we came home to a cleaner house than we left because my husband is the best man in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD and I love him so much! We are very happy to be home!