Saturday, June 20, 2015

Postpartum or Relapse...

I am a "late Christian"...
This title, applied to my life, means I grew up going to different churches and knew OF Jesus. I came to truly know Christ as my Savior in my early 30's (I am now almost 35-along with late I am also considered not quite seasoned)
One of coolest things I learned about, when I accepted Christ, was this thing called "Fruits of the Spirit" 
Through reading, studying, meditating and past experiences I came to find out that the 2 "fruits" I am blessed with are Peace and Joy.
What this means? My past was filled with chaos but + (through Christ) I now know peace.  My past was filled with pain but + (through Christ) I now experience GREAT joy! 
What this does NOT mean? I woke up one day and everything was easy, my past hurts were forgotten and never bothered me again, I'm skinny, rich and live in a big house, my marriage and my kids are perfect, fashionable and well behaved :)
An example I give people when they ask "how do you do it?" is this:
My God has empowered me to love those who others call unlovable, He has given me compassion for groups of people others (even Christians) turn their backs to. He has built in me an understanding and tender heart for those suffering with addiction, mental illness and abuse. The peace He has given me made it possible to walk up to our kids' biological mom after court, give her a hug, tell her her kids will always love her and that everything will be OK. Looking at her I knew her bad decisions would haunt my kids for the rest of their lives, but I also knew that those same bad decisions are what lead those beautiful children into our home. Both children have been traumatized by her drug/alcohol use, our son suffers with reactive attachment disorder and multiple learning disabilities; our daughter was recently diagnosed with severe fetal alcohol syndrome and classified as MRDD. 
Struggles and stress do not skip over me because I am a Christian. In my early 20's I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, through years of medication and therapy I graduated to "recovery" in my late 20's. When I made the decision to make Christ my center I witnessed even more changes, I began to hope, trust and live differently. 3 years later I became pregnant, SURPRISE!! At that first appointment my doctor expressed his concern about the medications I was taking, I was filled with fear. Do you know how many years it took to find the right ones? How long it took me to finally sleep at night? To leave my house? To work and have real relationships? To forgive? To move on? To accept my faults? To LOVE? I credited all of these improvements to my medication and changes in my situation. As the thoughts continued to fill my head and fear increased I said a prayer, then after that I began to trust and be lead...again. My next step-I requested a full evaluation by a psychiatrist I had no prior relationship with-I wanted a unbiased opinion. The results were in, he said "it's a miracle! your NOT crazy at all, maybe you never were!!" when I gave this line to my husband he put his boots on to say the least, hey an A for effort right? After delivery I was monitored for postpartum depression and made it through. Then came our 2nd surprise, our daughter, this pregnancy was completely different from the start. I decided to go back on a low dose, as safe as you can get while pregnant medication. Her delivery was nothing short of eventful, the added difficulties in breastfeeding (see previous blog) only added to my emotional breakdowns. A few days a week I was in so much pain that I couldn't even hold her; being disconnected, in pain, not meeting her needs eventually forced me into the realization that postpartum depression was most likely rearing it's ugly head. As I am experiencing the sadness, anxiety and withdrawal a lot of those past memories come back to me-thankfully I am reminded that God brought me through it, all of it and I am a better wife, mom and person because of it. That doesn't mean the feelings have gone away, but it does mean that I know one day they will and I will add this to my list of "who I am connected with" I also know that God won't let me lose my sense of humor, peace or joy-those are the gifts he's given me, just as much as this new challenge and I know he'll use it for something good because he has before. 
Postpartum, relapse, addiction, grief, all of it make Christ your center to see how he uses you and your struggles...and then Thank Him...   

Mommy & Blake Matthew 2013    

Mommy & Kallie Joy 2015


Thursday, June 18, 2015

In a house this small organization is key...

Organization is key and also necessary, in this house affordability is also extremely important. The 7 of us live in a 3 bedroom 1 bath ranch style home. Our family consists of my husband and I (bedroom 1) our 4 year old daughter, special needs and unable to share a bedroom (bedroom 2) 2 son's ages 6 and 1 (basement makeshift bedroom) infant daughter (bedroom 3) doubles as their play room and Aunt (my sister-basement makeshift bedroom 2) 
Our 2 oldest are in school, and only 1 is out of diapers, yikes!  We needed space for school papers, calendars, clothes, shoes, backpacks you name it! As I previously stated our 4 year old daughter is special needs which means she needs a calendar all to herself, doctors appointments, therapy, school, surgeries, procedures, oh my! 
Here is how we make an effort to remember everything and get to all their activities 5 minutes late... 

Number 1 rule: come to an understanding that you WILL forget something at some point, it may be big it may be something only you notice but it will happen-so own it, forgive yourself and then reschedule (if you can) I take time to pray over our calendars, I trust that appointments will fall where they need to and if something doesn't get scheduled there is a reason for it.

I found these stick-on calendars on clearance at Menard's. Our family calendar ran out of room with all the names we've been adding so now we have a calendar for each kid! I had hoped to get them all in one spot but this was as best as I could do.

Pinterest enthusiast! I made these out of scrapbook paper and picture frames. We use them for weekly school activities or important notes for each child. 

I love thirty-one, when I can get a good deal that is. 

I purchased these 4 folder snap hanging things when they were on sale for $5 and embroidery was 1/2 off! Anything paper goes here so I can review it and then take care of it.

Our small house leaves us no specific out of the way area for book bags, shoes, etc so we put it on the back door before heading to the basement. Bonus the kids can reach it, grab it and put it back themselves! 

Another issue we have is small bedrooms, our laundry is in the basement so we've set up dressers and a closet for everybody by the washer and dryer. Each night the kids grab their clothes and shoes and put their "ready for tomorrow" items in their specified bins. At night they put in dirty clothes, shoes, toys anything that goes back downstairs. 

We've done a ton of home improvements, the only regret I have is opening up the entire house! It's so popular these days and yes it's easier for moms to see the kids but man as soon as I walk in the front door I can see my dirty dishes, I am completely unable to hide anywhere and I can't put a baby gate up to keep them out off the kitchen while cooking. 
We are all living, breathing, playing and fighting in the same open area... when they are this small I think we need a bit of separation not to mention we don't have enough walls left to hang things on :) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This one's for the girls (boob warning)

My first two children were adopted, so when we found out I was pregnant with our son I decided to do what all the "most perfect mothers" do and look into this thing they call nursing. My experience the first time around was overall a positive one. I was able to nurse my son for almost a year, had milk stored in the freezer and so on. We had no major problems, only pumping inconveniences and maybe one or two embarrassing moments. (Forgetting to wear pads while serving in a nursery full of crying babies at church-to which my husband refused to give me his shirt & the long list of semi truck drivers whom I've flashed while pumping and driving.) 

This time around is another story! My pretty little girl arrived the 1st part of May and to say it's been eventful is an understatement.
*She was due the 17th and showed up on the 6th
*my labor and contractions were so irregular I waited to go to the hospital & then thought I was going to deliver in the car 
*Charlie tried calling the hospital on the way to make sure the anesthesiologist didn't leave-but he did, ahhhh! 
*during set-up the nurse asked what my results for the group B strep test was-I didn't know at that time it was positive.  
*I did get the epidural started but didn't have enough time for it to kick in. I figured something was going on when I looked over to see my nurse frantically punching buttons on the machine asking if I was still in pain.  
*I left the house after 1 am and she was delivered at 4:14 am; with the fast delivery she wasn't able to receive the antibiotics for my group B strep.
Now I know women often say the epidural didn't work and most of the time it's an exaggeration, but I swear it's the truth. In comparison to my son's delivery I cannot put into words how much I felt and how painful it was. I even tried to ignore a contraction so I wouldn't have to start pushing-who does that? Hello the doc can tell! Oh my...
Back in our room, my little peanut nursed pretty good but I started to notice her impatience. Soon we were both frustrated, tired and hangry  (there's only so many dozens of peanut butter cookies a gal can eat) she would start to eat then fall asleep... still hungry. I couldn't wake her up, she sleeps like her dad & still does. So I'd send her to the nursery only to have her refuse the place and be back in my bed within minutes. At one point I said give her formula and tried to lock my door! 

Fast forward: 
At her first doctors appointment she appeared to have a yellow belly  (I couldn't see it, I'm not good with these things you should see me look at an ultra sound photo-leg, frog legs or penis? I literally had my sons 4d pic upside down and thought his penis was a finger-I wasn't even concerned there were only 3? I don't know!) Anyway doc wanted to bump up her feedings to try and flush the jaundice out. Nursing every hour-sign me up! Ugh...
She then developed thrush, but thankfully by then I was mostly pumping and didn't catch it. We rushed off to the doctors office where they prescribed her an antibiotic. It cleared up quickly and since my milk production seemed pretty low I brought her back to the breast, soon after I started experiencing excruciating boob pain. 100% positive she gave me thrush I called the doc for a rx, but they wanted to see me. I went in and discovered I had mastitis, not thrush, I was wrong. Turns out between nursing every hour, milk over production, thrush, jaundice, etc she wasn't emptying the breast all the way. So I increased my pumping time and frequency, took hot showers, used heating pads and tried any other tip people gave me. It somewhat worked but I ended up needing to start the antibiotic she gave me. 
During every conversation and diagnosis they kept saying it's common really, actually pretty normal. Needless to say none of that kept me from feeling like a gross, walking petri dish full of infections! My boobs hurt so bad I could barely hold my baby, she refuses the breast all together now, my milk is practically non existent and when I am holding her she is incredibly restless. 
Breastfeeding: making mom's feel like failures everywhere
So now I'm trying to re-bond with my baby girl, ward off/get through the baby blues, lose baby weight and solve her gas issues on top of everything else...

**warning: do NOT comment how wonderful, easy, natural, etc your breastfeeding experience is/was. I can't be held responsible for my reaction (most likely punching will be involved)**

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Oh, by the way...we're bikers...

Something you may not have know is that we are a biker family...I'm not talking your Honda-wanna be Sportster 883 riders I'm talking your bad a$$ rough and tough Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide HOG's. Lies, lies, lies-well it is true we do have a Super Glide BUT by no means are we bad a$$...I'm wearing my knock off sperry's, sometimes flip flops, wal-mart sunglasses, trying to figure out how those girls get their bandannas to not blow off & why they hate bras! I've been pregnant so much the last 3 years that the only time I ride is when I'm ready for a baby to get out of my belly! 
A funny tid bit is that the bike is mine, mine MINE!!! Charlie spent a year in Iraq (from 2009-2010) so when we received our income tax refund we purchased the bike. Well, he had been looking and looking and working crazy hours through the Union Hall so my sister and I decided to head out to the Harley store with the 4 daycare kids. We walked into that store all confident and feeling tough, but the sales person kept trying to get us to buy T-shirts!! I finally said you can give me that T-shirt for free after I buy my bike (grunt grunt). After I mouthed off all the biker terms and definitions Charlie made me memorize and got out the check book he finally realized I was serious. Since I was the one there and paying for it (with the hubby's money that is) the bike went in to my was my insurance before knowing how much I'd get in child support for 4 kids!! WooHoo!! (KIDDING) 
Our riding time has seen a dramatic decline since the kiddies, but this year we did make it back to bike week-we rode in the parade with our super cool tough guy friend Shawn, attended a Colt Ford concert where I realized how incredibly short I am and ate bad fatty/fried food. Now we are back to reality sporting amazingly embarrassing tan lines with the bike in the shed awaiting the next "Your going riding and leaving me with all of these kids" argument...

SOMETIMES, husband's do know what they're doing... (& wives don't)

I have a slight obsession with collecting tables and storing them in my basement for projects; over the last year I have done a pretty good job giving most of them away. After my most recent pinterest fail (my dining table topper is now a headboard) I went back to the drawing board. I randomly purchased a bar height table from a garage sale site since our family needed a tall table that was out of reach of toddler hands.  I was 9 months pregnant and the chick lived on the 3rd floor, we took legs off, chairs apart and so on trying to get this thing out! Anyhow after I brought it in I noticed it smelled, then trying to clean it noticed the sticky-ness :( I remembered that I had another table downstairs we had recently taken apart. My great idea was to use the frame of the bar, paint it and the chairs white and add the other table top. After wrestling this table once again and finally getting it outside then trying to get the top off (which was glued down) the husband entered...he took the legs off the bar added them to the table top and voila! Done in 5 minutes, all I have left to do is paint. Are you kidding me? I'm happy it's done but at what expense? I mean here I am writing a blog about my husband being (choke) right? AND efficient AND A PROBLEM SOLVER? That's my area of expertise, I'm not sure how I feel about this exactly...

The smelly, sticky & a tad to small table before...

The wrestling match...

The top I wanted on the bar...

The finished build, just needs painted!

In case you were wondering my pinterest table top fail...

Painted plank boards to double the table size...

Then as our new headboard...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Maternity Leave...

I am quite the planner, that's for sure...
As we grew closer to delivery day everyone teased me about Miss Kallie arriving early (which wasn't very funny-I don't like early! not 5 minutes, not 1 hour and definitely not 11 days!) With that being said I trust in God's perfect timing and had a little feeling Kallie was going to make her debut before her due date. What I wasn't ready for were the 25 appointments we still had to juggle with our 3 other kids; the end of school activities, conferences and prep for our older daughters surgery. Amazingly those 2 weeks went perfect! Kallie tagged along and was incredible wherever we went...and THEN...dunn-dunn-dunn...she morphed into, one of those, normal babies-gasp! She didn't want to nurse, she became very very gassy and uncomfortable (not to mention knock you to the ground smelly!) then developed thrush, which only magnified the uncomfortable-ness. Through all of thsee hiccups she has remained a pretty happy and consolable baby, but all of my mommy plans have become nonexistent. I was going to walk the bike trail each morning, start prepping freezer meals, eat better, start T25 back up (ok that one's a strong maybe), you know all of those healthy things you promise to do at the 9 1/2 month mark when all of the sudden your living on twinkies, doughnuts and pizza!!
I had done so well through most of my pregnancy... until that dreaded 9 1/2 month mark.
Now I'm stuck-tired-bored & need that motivation fairy to appear, unfortunately my daughters gas seems to be keeping said fairy far far away...Monday is right around the corner, perfect time to try and restart it...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meet our family...

My beautiful family! 
These were taken just a few short weeks before the arrival of our 4th little one Kallie. This day was eventful, as expected, it started out sunny and warm but quickly turned to a rain storm! My youngest son was in need of a nap and refused to put down his beloved toy for the photo shoot. At no point do any of my kids look at the camera or smile at the same time, they were often climbing or running off in different directions. They are precious and beautiful but oh so un-photogenic. 
We are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing and patient photographer that will work with our family each year, she knows how to keep that camera clicking away and when I'm getting close to breaking point. 

Logan age 6, Kaitlyn age 4, Blake age 2

Daddy-Daughter photo

Logan and his dangerously beautiful blue eyes!

My wonderful husband, Charlie and me-oh so very preggo!

Blake, our youngest and 1st biological child

The most special girl in the world, Kaitlyn. In spite of her challenges she has the best and brightest view on life, her spirit and motivation inspires me each day.

The rain is pouring down on us! I am blocking my husband in the background trying to wrangle 3 screaming children, to get the perfect shot! Ha!

Our garage sale Sperry's!! 

Momma's boys!