Prime Mental Real Estate.
Wow. I had absolutely no idea how much prime mental real estate social media was occupying in my brain. Like, the thought literally never crossed my mind. I "quit social media" for so many reasons, but this was a benefit I didn't expect.
My mind feels SIGNIFICANTLY lighter. I feel free-er. Like my mind is sighing in relief and saying "ahhh." As the woman I am, I make things personal. I take things in. I internalize everything I see. I worry about people. I think about them.
There's nothing wrong with that to a point, of course, but I was constantly bombarding myself with the inner workings of hundreds of other people's lives. Lives I couldn't necessarily affect or help or serve at the moment, so I was just filling my mind with so many thoughts. Idle thoughts. They were just running around my heart and head like millions of tiny toddlers trapped in a fish tank.
I never recognized it but my mind was tired. My mind would be tired anyway from having four little boys within five feet of me all the time, but then add on everyone else's kids and their thoughts and their daily doings and comings and goings and it was just A LOT.
Now that I've freed myself from social media, it's like my mind can relax.
There are some more amazing things that have happened from this. Maybe I'll share those another day. Maybe I'll start blogging more?! The possibilities of what will now take over this newly listed real estate is endless!
Thursday, February 9, 2017
I was raised in a quintessential home with a loving family and anything I could have every wanted. I did not go through a lot of difficult challenges or very hard things. This is great, of course. I am so grateful for my loving family and the wonderful childhood that was a gift to me and it shaped me into who I am today.
I got married and starting working and life continued to be fine and dandy. Of course, there were challenges, but overall I was able to deal with everything and maintain my naturally happy-go-lucky attitude.
Then I became a mother. And my child had extreme food allergies linked to an autoimmune disease and asthma. Along with some other challenges, those first couple years of motherhood were tough for me. My perfect little world was rocked. Then my second little boy was born, my oldest son was still not healthy, we had just moved to Texas away from family, and we were dealing with other challenges. (Aren’t we all?!) I was trying to keep it all together. I was trying to be that perfect mother and take care of my children and do all those things I felt I was supposed to be doing. I was started to taste a little dose of that thing called life.
I wasn’t succeeding. I was flailing with my head barely above water, realizing I thought I knew how to swim but I didn’t. I was madly in love with my two little boys, but wondered, “how does one person do all this?” I would talk to my mom on the phone about how hard it all was and just in an overall quandary about how I was supposed to make all this work. She felt for her daughter and wanted to help, so she would come out and visit every few months. I was stressed and busy and worn out and tired, and then my mom would come and everything was better and easier and I could relax a little bit again. I would go to the grocery store alone while she stayed home with the boys and I would enjoy a salad from the salad bar. I would go to the library and make lists of how to try to do all that I wanted to do, that I was currently nowhere near. Then she would have to leave and the day she left I was stressed again. Was I missing some piece of the puzzle!?
We would go on a little family trip and I was APPALLED at how much time and effort it took to prepare for the trip and just be on the trip. I kept thinking, “my parents did all this for every trip we went on?!”
I was waiting for life to get easier. It felt like every single thing I had to do was more difficult that what I expected. Everything took longer. Nothing was quick and easy. I thought that if I could just be a little more efficient or work a little harder or manage my time a little bit better, then I would be okay. I would be able to do all that I needed to do, and take care of my children, and provide them healthy meals, and teach them, and love them, and balance it all… and not be so stressed all the time and just be happy.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, that things changed. I know it didn’t happen all at once. It happened slowly as I tried to figure out the formula. I asked one friend “how do I do it all?!” and instead of telling me how to try to make myself more, she told me to make “it all” less. I didn’t have to give my kids a bath every night. I didn’t have to dress them in matching pajama sets every night and change their outfits into day clothes every day.
I didn’t have to “do it all.”
I had been asking myself the wrong question. Instead of asking, “how do I do it all?” I needed to ask, “what is most important for me to do? At the end of the day, what really matters? What can I stop worrying about?”
It happened as I read books that gave me a new perspective on motherhood and life. I read about mothers in other cultures and realized the standard American way of motherhood was not only not the only way, but also not necessarily the best way. There is no “best” way. We are all just doing our best and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
It happened as I turned to God and was inspired by incredible friends who helped me see better ways. I read one parenting book that really opened my eyes and helped me. It is (more than) okay to let your children struggle through things. It is okay to let them work their way through things. It is not my responsibility as their mother to prevent every tear and every skinned knee along the journey of childhood, but that doing so would in fact rob them of the growing and learning they so desperately needed.
It happened as I realized I wasn’t doing my children any favors by always putting myself last. I realized my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health was of utmost importance to the well-being of my entire family. I had to learn to be a little more selfish. It is okay to do what I want to do sometimes. It is okay to develop my own hobbies and talents. It is okay to let my children watch TV when I really need a nap. It is okay to let my husband put my kids to bed so I can go out for a girls night. It is okay to feed my kids cereal for dinner. It is okay to get a babysitter and actually go out on a date with my husband. And most importantly of all, IT’S OKAY TO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. We give our all to our families, let’s carve out little breaks for ourselves here and there. And would it be absurd to not let our whole break be ruined by guilt and worrying about our kids the whole time?!
It happened as I learned to let it go, just let everything and anything go that I could. I stopped trying to be perfect. I stopped trying to create a perfect life for my children. I stopped trying to be the mother that I thought I was supposed to be.
And everything started to change. My stress levels went down. My joy in life went up. I grew in my desire to improve myself, develop my own hobbies, and take care of myself. I stopped waiting for life to get easier and I realized, it won’t.
(This was all actually very timely because shortly after I got pregnant with twins and those lessons because more valuable than I ever realized!)
Life will always be hard. If it’s not this stress or worry, it will be something else. I realized I couldn’t wait for my mom to come help me to be happy and carefree. I had to learn to find joy and peace and happiness in the midst of the trials of life. You know those people that are so happy and have great marriages and are great parents and seem like they have just figured it out? I used to think it was because they were dealt an easy hand, or they just married the perfect guy, or they just had perfect kids, etc. I have realized that those people just chose to make it work. They chose to be happy. They chose to put the time and work into their marriages and families and their priorities to be happy and satisfied with the life they have created.
I finally ACCEPTED that life was going to be hard every day of my life, and that was okay. And in reality that was the way I wanted it. A woman who is progressing and pushing herself and growing and learning and becoming the best version of herself is not going to have it easy. Now I expect life to be difficult. I expect setbacks. So when they happen, I just smirk and move on. When Abraham spills his freshly roasted vegetables or his smoothie all over the floor, I don’t mind. I knew it was going to happen! If not today, another day. I know I’m going to be tired. I know I’m going to have difficult days. I know there are going to be moments when all four of them are screaming, but I’m just okay with it all now. It’s all part of the beautiful mess of motherhood.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself for being so busy with little kids. Like, “WHEN DO I EVER HAVE A MOMENT TO MYSELF?!” ----> In ten years, move on. I stopped being a martyr. “I’m just so tired. The kids kept waking up last night…” ----> You signed up to have these kids, so if you’re tired, do what you need to do to get some sleep, stop complaining, and move on.
For so long I tried to FIGHT IT. I tried to fight the fact that life was hard. It wasn’t until I accepted it and embraced it that I have been able to find peace. My house doesn’t have to be picked up for me to enjoy the five minutes of peace I have while the babies are sleeping and the boys are playing quietly. Instead of busily picking everything up, I’m going to take these precious few minutes and do something for myself, or just sit and enjoy my kids. I have accepted that my house will be messy for the next fifteen years and I’m okay with that! I’ve accepted that the hardest things in life bring the greatest rewards and if I just stop complaining and give these kids and this life I have created EVERYTHING I’VE GOT, I won’t have any regrets. I have stopped waiting, wishing, and hoping for an easier tomorrow, when “the kids are a little older.” I have realized that the only way to feel better is to do the work you can do and at the end of the day be happy with what you’ve got… difficult days, disasters, and all.
Books referenced above:
How Eskimo’s Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood
Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay
Thursday, January 12, 2017
I was thirty-seven weeks and three days pregnant with these little twins of mine. My perinatologist, Dr Gordon, wanted to induce me right at 37 weeks due to my cholestasis. I was able to get him to agree to pushing it back a few days so we scheduled it for Friday, June 17, 2016. Although I am opposed to inductions most of the time, I felt peaceful about my need to be induced and finally felt ready. 6:00 on Friday morning came and Mimi dropped us off at the hospital. I felt very calm. I had received a priesthood blessing from Dan a few nights earlier that was powerful and reassuring and confirmed to me in undeniable ways that I have a loving Heavenly Father who knows my heart. Staying true to my tradition of watching Ephraim’s Rescue right before labor, Jude and I had watched it the day before so I could draw strength from the examples of my pioneer ancestors (one of which, Elizabeth Bradshaw, is depicted in the movie). Dan and I also went to the temple the day before and I was touched by the words spoken there. Although all I really wanted was to end up with two healthy babies, however they came, I was filled with peace and faith that I would be able to have the birth I hoped for, even though it seemed to defy all odds.
We got to the hospital and waited for a while. I read my blessing again as we were waiting. I was wearing the same blue moo-moo that I wore when I went in to the hospital to have Abraham. The nurse got us set up in our room and got my IV started before her shift changed. One whole wall was windows and I loved how the sun shined through. The day shift nurse came in and she was a sixty-something year old lady who seemed less than enthused about the whole situation. I was also less than amused by her lack of enthusiasm.
At 8:00, they did an ultrasound and baby B was BREECH. That was the last word I wanted to hear. I was disappointed and confused. Why had I felt so confident and peaceful about my birth working out so well? This was going to greatly increase my risk of having to have an epidural and possibly a C-section (they will not deliver a breech baby vaginally). I was bummed but tried to stay positive and hope that maybe he would move again. (A few days earlier at my appointment he was head down.)
She hooked me up to all the monitors, one for contractions and the two that monitored the heart rates. So I had three monitors strapped to my super slick, super round tummy and they would not stay put. First of all, the babies would not stay put and then the monitors themselves kept sliding off the slippery slopes. She kept coming in and trying to get them to stay. Because of this, I couldn’t move at all. If I moved even in the slightest they would come off, and she would not start or increase the Pitocin if the monitors weren’t picking up. So I had to stay completely still if I wanted to move forward! Dr Suber, my OB, came in at 8:42 and was upset that the nurses hadn’t started the Pitocin yet. She checked me and I was still 3 cm, 70% effaced, and -1 station. She encouraged me to get an epidural because in the event of a C-section, if I didn’t have an epidural they would have to put me under general anesthesia and I would not even be awake to see my babies being born. We had previously talked about the option of just getting the epidural placed but not having any medication administered so I told her I would think about it.
The nurse started the Pitocin at 9:00 at a rate of four. She increased the Pitocin by four every half hour until it reached 12. At that point my contractions were steady enough and she felt like she didn’t need to increase it any more. I was grateful! My nurse grew on me. She was laid-back and gave me my space. If I had to go to the bathroom, I would just unhook myself and go and then take my time and she wouldn’t come in and get on my case. She would give me some time and I really appreciated that little bit of freedom! Dr Suber told me she would come back in around lunchtime and break my water so I was anxiously waiting. Up until that point, the contractions weren’t too bad. I started to feel them and was rudely brought back to a remembrance of when I was induced with Jude. It still wasn’t too bad so I knew I couldn’t be too far along yet. Dan was by my side working on a paper he had to write for school.
Dr Suber came in at 1:30 and broke my water. I was only four cm so I knew I still had some ways to go. She was a little upset that I hadn’t gotten the epidural yet, but I just wasn’t in a rush because I knew I still had time. Things started to pick up. My nurse didn’t need to increase my Pitocin any more because the water breaking got things moving enough on it’s own. The next few hours I was just in my zone. I went to YouTube on my phone to listen to one of my jams and it asked me if I wanted to download YouTube Red music player. I agreed and it ended up being totally what I needed. I searched for my songs and liked them and it automatically put them on a playlist and no ads! There was a little Taylor Swift, a little Anthony Green, a little Rihanna, a little Justin Bieber, amongst others. I had Dan’s big headphones on and was just in my zone. Time passed quickly. I had a little paper with my “tools” on it to help get me through the contractions that my good friend, Brittany, had helped me write. The one that really got me through was “soft face.” Whenever a contraction would come, I would focus on keeping my face soft and every muscle in my body relaxed.
The contractions were getting more intense and I was definitely using my tools and just trying to stay in my zone and stay relaxed. I talked to the nurse about getting the epidural placed and she said she would call the anesthesiologist. He came in a few minutes later and asked me if I had any questions. I explained my situation to him and told him I would like to get the epidural placed in case of an emergency but did not want any medication administered. He seemed slightly confused but was happy to oblige me. He did warn me that in the event of an emergency or STAT C-section, they would not know if the epidural had worked and without that knowledge, would have to put me under general anesthesia. There is always a risk that the epidural won’t work so if mine hadn’t, they would not have enough time to know if it had or not. I thought about it for a while and felt peaceful that it would be okay and I didn’t feel like it would come to that. I told him I felt comfortable taking that risk and did not want any medication administered.
My mom arrived just as the anesthesiologist was placing the epidural. I had lost track of time at this point but sometime after that the nurse checked me and I was 6.5 cm. I was still coping well at that point so I was feeling good. I knew if I could get that far I could certainly go the rest of the way. Things started to get real at this point. I would have Dan massage my feet as I was getting a contraction to take my mind off of it. I had my headphones on and would just focus on relaxing and he would rub my feet. Mom came behind me and was rubbing my temples for a little while too. The nurse came in around 3:45 and asked me if I wanted to get checked. I told her I didn’t want her to because I didn’t want to be disappointed. She said she was just going to sit over in the corner of the room. I was getting to the point where I was thinking I couldn’t do it any more. Within a few minutes, I started to feel the urge to push. I told her she better go ahead and check and I was 9 cm! She immediately picked up her phone and called Dr Suber, “Twins are a 9!” She pulled out her walkie-talkie and starting summoning the troops to help her wheel me into the Operating Room and get things set up. (I had to deliver in there in case of a C-section.) Dan had gowned up into his white suit and donned his surgical hat. My mom wasn’t allowed to come in just because there were already going to be so many people in there. I was pushing as they wheeled me in and just praying it would all be over soon. We got into the OR and I had to slide myself over to the miniature stretcher they needed me to be on. Things kind of turn in to a blur at this point but I’ll do my best to remember!
As they wheeled me in, with my legs in the birthing position, there was a man in his thirties waiting in the OR room at the end of my bed. I introduced myself and asked his name because it was just a little awkward. He introduced himself as the OR tech and I sound found out his job was to prepare the area and keep everything clean down there. I obviously didn’t care that much at that point but thought it was an interesting employee choice and felt kind of bad for him for all he was about to experience.
Before I knew it I saw Dr Suber was standing at the bottom of my bed. I was pushing and as she put on her gloves, she said something like, “there’s the baby!” That was good to hear. I pushed a couple more times and there was Baby A! He was born at 4:25 pm. They put him right on my chest and I was just in shock by this little man! He looked nothing like my other two babies! I had expected another little Jude and Abraham and was surprised to see a new little face! I held him up to get a good look at him. He was not crying so I started patting on his back. I did not want them to take him away from me.
I was pretty unaware of what was going on down there and don't remember any details of how I felt. There were literally fifteen people bustling around the OR so it was chaotic. Apparently baby B was transverse at this point. Dr Suber stuck her arm up to her elbow up there and grabbed him while the other doctor manipulated his body from the outside. Dr Suber broke his water and flipped him to head down. They were having trouble getting a heart rate on baby B and the doctor was getting frustrated. They ended up putting something on his head that was able to get his heart rate. The doctors said something about how baby B’s heart rate was lower than they wanted it to be and I needed to push now or they would have to do a C-section. The assisting doctor, Dr Hahn, was yelling at me “Push! Push! You can do this!” I didn’t feel an urge to push at that point, maybe because he hadn’t descended down the birth canal yet. At this point I was still holding Baby A. So now I’m on this miniature stretcher that has no handles or side rails or anything to get a grip on and I’m holding my newborn baby and they want me to PUSH. I kindly asked if someone could hold the baby so I could actually push! I said I was afraid I would squeeze him and that got the nurse’s attention so one of them ran over and grabbed the baby. I grabbed Dan’s hand on one side and another lady’s hand on the other, pushed with all I had, and after a few pushes, baby B was born at 4:36 PM, eleven minutes after his brother.
This little babe was a carbon copy of Jude and Abraham at birth so when I saw him I thought, “I know you!” I held him for a few minutes before they took him to weigh him. I was okay with it because I was so worn out.
Relief and exhaustion were my two most overwhelming emotions at that point. I wished it was over but unfortunately much still needed to be done. This is the part of natural birth where I feel like you should be done and then they have to stitch up and do that fundal massage like there’s no tomorrow. The placentas were fused together so they came out together after baby B. Dr Suber was really excited to send them off for testing because of my cholestasis. Must be a doctor thing. Dr Suber had more of an adrenaline high than I did! She looked at me and in all seriousness asked, “How did you do that?! How did you do that?!” I just kind of looked at her puzzled and don’t think I even responded. How do you answer a question like that?! I don’t know, I just did?!
After they got me all fixed up, I got in a wheelchair and had a baby in each arm. They wheeled me back into the labor room and within a couple minutes, Mom had brought Jude and Abraham into the room. That moment when we were all together as a family for the first time was one of the most special moments for me. The boys were so intrigued and excited and sweet. They just wanted to be by the babies.
I, yet again, didn’t have that adrenaline rush or “high” people describe after natural birth. I was too tired! I wanted to take a nap. I was extremely grateful and humbled how everything worked out. There were about a million things that could have “gone wrong” or just not the way I planned. I had my heart set on a natural, vaginal birth and going into labor on my own. I wasn’t able to go into labor on my own, but I realize now that was a blessing in disguise and a loving Heavenly Father’s way to save me from myself. I had talked my doctor into letting me go to 39 weeks pregnant as opposed to the normal 37 or 38 weeks they let twin moms go. My babies were already so big, had I gone to 39 weeks I’m afraid they each would have been 8-9 pounds each and my delivery wouldn’t have gone so well. I can only imagine the complications and recovery I would have had. Looking back, I am grateful for the induction as I have had a ridiculously amazing recovery. I felt incredible within a couple days and had NONE of the recovery issues I had dealt with previously. After birthing a 9 lb 15 oz tank, these two were easy as pie! Thanks for paving the way, Abraham!
I had felt so peaceful in the few days before they were born that I was going to be able to have the birth I wanted. I did not have fear. Even when it seemed to defy all odds, I felt that Heavenly Father, for some reason, was granting me this wish of mine to have a natural birth. Besides the initial reasons that interested me in natural birth (feeling it was best for the health of my babies and myself), I wanted to feel. I wanted to feel the birth of these babies that were my miracle. I wanted to experience everything my ancestors and all mothers past have experienced. I wanted to be able to look back on my life knowing I lived every day and every experience as much as I could. I did not want to numb myself from feeling something that would undoubtedly be one of the most life-changing, unforgettable experiences of my life. I knew I could do it. I knew my body could do it. I had gained a lot of confidence in myself after having Abraham naturally. I wanted to birth without fear. I wanted to let my body do what I knew it could. I wanted to be brave like my pioneer ancestors. I wanted to remember them in those difficult moments and think about their sacrifices and what they went through and feel that in a small way I was making my own sacrifice. I had Googled “induction without epidural” or something like that a few days earlier and the main paragraph that popped up said it’s extremely difficult and all but impossible. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that society told me I couldn’t. We, as women, are made to do this. Our bodies are made to birth the babies we create. I want women to feel empowered by pregnancy and labor and delivery, not fearful. I want women to gain courage and strength and confidence by their role as childbearing women and embrace the power we hold.