Thursday, February 2, 2017

What A Difference a Year Can Make

Deep breath.
A year ago today we were woken up at five am by the NICU doctor. At first I thought she was a nurse coming to check on me but then I realized who she was.
Even when it's your first rodeo, you know that it's really bad news when the doctor comes into your room, sits on the edge of the bed and asks you and your husband to wake up to "talk."
TaterTot had started having seizures. Our hopes from the day before that everything would be okay were instantly erased. We needed to sign consent forms for a spinal tap and an ambulance transfer to Children's Hospital.
The words of my Labor and Delivery nurse from the previous day rang in my ears: "Don't worry. It can't be that bad. If it was really bad, he would be at Children's".
Some words you never forget.
Later the doctor would tell us that we were the "most calm and rational people." That while we were obviously upset by the news we stayed very rational, quickly signed the papers and let them get right back to work. So I guess we got a gold star for that. Small consolation when you believe your child is dying.
I won't go into what happened to us physically once she left but if you've never been through something like that before just know that your body reacts more quickly than your brain can process what is happening.
We were able to see and hold TaterTot before his ambulance transfer and then there we were: at the hospital with no baby.
I had to be discharged (since, though it had taken a backseat, I had actually delivered a baby less than 48 hours prior to this). Thankfully my doctor came quickly and we were able to go.
We left that hospital without our baby in his car seat. The car seat we had so carefully installed (and reinstalled) before his arrival. It's hard to describe that feeling though I know there are parents who leave with an empty car seat without the hope of ever holding their baby again so in that regard we were still lucky.
In the next two days we would watch our newborn baby have around 50 seizures (and those were just the ones that you could see). I would hold his twitching limbs and time each one with a stop watch to be written down in a log.
Right hand, mouth, right leg. 33 seconds
Right hand only. 1 minute 12 seconds
Left arm, mouth, left leg. 47 seconds...
Eventually we would get the news that he had meningitis. We would see a picture of his brain that showed the white spots of permanent damage. We would cling to the words "this is not a global injury" but know that the impacts were not only completely unpredictable but we would not get answers for months or even years as to what they may be.
A year later we are a little (quite a bit) worse for the wear but unlike then life is relatively normal these days. Wonderfully, beautifully normal. Time and time again our worries over this year have proven to be unwarranted. We have slowly started to come out of the fog of fear and panic, though there will always be some amount of worry and we cannot yet rule out all potential impacts. But we can see a future. We can look further than the next day or week. We can worry about "normal" things like whether our house is baby-proofed enough as it seems we are only a few weeks away from having to manage a fully mobile, walking toddler.
What a difference a year can make.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mom Guilt Starts Before Conception

Mom guilt.  

Each of us has it to varying degrees, but we all have it.... likely oscillating between a soft whisper and a loud, CANNOT-BE-IGNORED yell from time to time.  Hopefully those loud moments are few and far between and we can ignore the whispers most.

Since FrenchFry was born two and a half years ago, my particular brand of mom guilt has centered around sending him to daycare (read: abandoning my poor child) and killing myself over pumping issues to make sure I never had to supplement breast milk.  (Not that there is anything wrong with using formula but, again, we are talking about my particular brand of mom guilt and I think breastfeeding became a non-negotiable for me because of guilt around going back to work).  There is also the guilt I feel when I don't want to play a game or read a book for the 15th time and really just want to pawn off bedtime on my husband and binge watch Netflix or bad reality TV.  I mean... I feel the guilt... but will still do it, of course.

But those more recent sources of mom guilt have overshadowed my previous incarnations and I had almost forgotten how early mom guilt really starts.  Now that I'm pregnant again I'm reminded how soon mom guilt starts to creep in.  It can happen even before you are pregnant.

Pre-Conception Guilt: It's real. 

How many of us wish we had lost more weight before getting pregnant?  And not just because of the weight we will gain, but to make sure we are as healthy as possible for the pregnancy.  This time around I started pregnancy 20 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with FrenchFry.  I just couldn't lose most of the baby weight with him.  I nursed him until I was in my second trimester with this pregnancy and I'm still holding out hope that nursing was what kept me from losing the weight.  So... I guess we'll find out the answer to that in about 3 years if nursing Tater Tot ends up being much the same?  No matter what the reason was, I definitely felt guilty coming into this pregnancy not as healthy as I wish that I were.  The guilt:  it's there and it's real.

Pregnancy Guilt: 9 months of second guessing everything you do.

Much of pregnancy is filled with rules and restrictions on what you should eat and drink.  There are also activity restrictions, lots of conflicting advice, old wives tales, and sometimes straight-up shaming.

I remember when I was pregnant the first time and a (sort of ridiculous) friend of mine was saying that you only need an extra 300 calories per day when pregnant in a judgy of the "eating for two" theory on eating during pregnancy.  It wasn't the judginess about over-eating so much as when she said "a cup of blueberries is 100 calories."  (Cue the sound of my head getting ready to explode.)

Yes... let's judge pregnant women for eating too many blueberries.  Grr...

At the time I was in the fun queasy all the time and nothing except carbs or cheesy carbs could be eaten stage.  And I was particularly proud of myself because after I would settle my stomach with crackers or mashed potatoes just to get something down and keep myself from not feeling like I was going to puke for 45 minutes or so, I would shove a bunch of blueberries in my mouth and feel good about myself for actually eating something with some nutrients in it.

Yes, of course you should try to eat healthy, nutritious foods while pregnant (and always) but the shaming and the guilt is a bit too much sometimes.  As I write this, my Facebook news feed is filled with versions of (this) article saying "nearly half of pregnant women gain too much weight."  Cue more guilt.

Childbirth Guilt: This is the guilt that you get to feel guilty about having at all.

Personally I dealt with a lot of guilt around FrenchFry's birth.  It's enough to explore in a separate blog post, and I probably do need to revisit my feelings about his birth before I give birth to TaterTot.

Don't get me wrong, things turned out fine: FrenchFry was healthy, and I was able to have a vaginal birth.  But there were a few very scary moments when both FrenchFry and I went into distress and whether or not it was true, I blamed myself.  Going into his birth I wanted to avoid interventions and medication if possible.  Not because I'm some warrior woman, but because I worried that interventions would lead to more interventions.  And once I did get the epidural with FrenchFry, that is when those scary, tense moments happened.

But childbirth guilt is one that can cause you even more guilt for having those feelings.  I walked away from a healthy pregnancy and birth with a healthy baby.  Not everyone is as lucky as I was, so how can I even feel regret or express anything resembling a complaint about my experience?  Interventions may or may not lead to more interventions, but in this case guilt does lead to more guilt.

Now That They Are Here Guilt: The guilt that keeps on giving.

As I mentioned, daycare and breastfeeding have been my biggest two sources of mom guilt since FrenchFry was born. Of course they are not the only sources... once our kids are here the sources for guilty are endless.  And each new phase and milestone your child goes through brings new and different potential sources of mom guilt.  I usually have an amazing amount of patience for FrenchFry given my total lack of patience in every other aspect of my life... but sometimes it's just too much.  One morning this week, after having woken up in the middle of the night realizing I had forgotten to prepare for an important work presentation, I hit levels of stress and impatience with FrenchFry and our dog (sorry, Nola dog) that I feel pretty awful about.

But it happens.

We lose our patience.  We put our kids in daycare.  We work too late too often.  We look at our phones too often when we are with our kids.  We let the dishes and laundry pile up.  We forget to tell our partners thank you.

Mom guilt is real... but you aren't the only one.  We all feel it.  The hope is that it stays at that whisper as much as possible and when it's the loud, can't-be-ignored yell, then hopefully it doesn't last too long and we don't beat ourselves up too much about it.  We need to move on.

Recently I saw this quote and it's my new mantra:

"The very fact that you worry about being a good mom meant that you already are one." - Jodi Picoult

Do you remember when you first felt mom guilt?  How do you deal with the endless sources of guilt that come with the territory of being a mom?

Cuddle Fairy

My Random Musings

Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Don't Get to Decide

I'm linking up with #CandidCuddles quote linky this week.  Check out the other great posts here:

Cuddle Fairy

FrenchFry, my soon to be 3 year old, has been surprisingly (to me at least) sensitive and in tune with other people's emotions from a young age.  He often asks you if you are okay if you are sad or frustrated and is quick to offer an apology or a hug if he hurts you unintentionally. 

Even though I do my best not to tell him "you're okay" when he's hurt or sad and let him tell me when he is actually okay, sometimes he will say "no, you are okay" or "I didn't hurt you."  I recently found myself telling him that he doesn't say whether or not he hurt me, that only I can say if I was hurt or not.  When I said it to FrenchFry I was talking about physical hurt and then I saw this quote:

It made me think that the lesson I was trying to teach FrenchFry is a really important one that is very easy for us to forget as adults too.  People are allowed to have their feelings and sometimes we hurt or upset them without intending to do so.  Instead of trying to justify our own actions or downplay their feelings, we need to remember that they get to decide how they feel.  It's okay for us to explain our own intentions but never to undermine or try to takeaway from what it is they have experienced.

Seeing this quote so soon after talking to FrenchFry about something similar was perfect timing and will help me to keep this lesson going for him... and for myself.  It's a good reminder that just because we have good intentions doesn't mean we won't hurt someone else and each of us have the right to our own experiences and feelings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

And Here's the Part Where I Jinx Us

I was afraid to celebrate too soon and jinx us but now that it's been two days in a row I'm going to chance it.

We have had 2 - count them TWO - accident free potty training days in a row!  There is light at the end of the toilet - er, tunnel!

We have been taking the long, slow approach to potty training. I know there are plenty of experts who tout the 3 day method for potty training but we are going with the 3 month (plus maybe a few more) plan. Much like the (non)sleep-training approach we took.  

Read: The Lazy Method. 


It appears to be working!  The non-sleep-training thing also worked for us so we will go with it. Essentially the lazy method is to ease into things and not push anything too fast and go with instincts (or sometimes with whatever is just easier in the moment). For us it has minimized crying and in the case of potty training accidents.  I know this might not work with all kids so as with anything parenting or child related it isn't universal but things seem to be looking up for having a potty trained kid at (or around, we aren't pushing remember) his third birthday.  

And once I stop high-fiving myself, I'll go pick FrenchFry up from daycare to get the news that he had 15 accidents and refused to go near the potty today.  Because parenting is usually a one step forward, half a step back process. 

But for right now- we are accident free for two whole days! We will take it. 


How did you approach potty training?  Was it the same for each of your kids if you have more than one?  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

There Is Always Someone...

FrenchFry and his dad after a night in the ER.

A few nights ago, FrenchFry (2.5 year old) fell and landed with his mouth on a small wooden table.  There was a horrible, horrible sound and then the silence of a kid in shock and pain before the loud screams and cries.  I held him as his mouth filled with blood and we immediately knew this was a bad one and that his teeth were likely damaged.  After just a few moments of holding him, we jumped in the car and drove the excruciatingly long drive to the Children's Hospital.  (Why do we not live closer to the hospital?!)

By the time we got there he was mostly calm and watching videos on my phone.  The bleeding had stopped and he would only cry intermittently. We saw the ER doctor who couldn't find any damage to his mouth except for the clearly bent back front teeth.  She consulted with the on call dentist and we had an appointment for the next day at the dental clinic.

That night we had FrenchFry sleep in our bed so we could stay close and monitor him.  He woke up moaning a few times and we gave him some Tylenol.  The next day I stayed home with him and we cuddled on the couch and he watched way more TV than I'd care to admit while I took care of some work before his appointment.

Holding hands while he watches Umizoomi and I get some work done.

The dentist appointment was more traumatic than the actual ER visit for both FrenchFry and us.  He screamed through the exam and then had to get x-rays and since I'm pregnant I couldn't be in there with him. I feel bad for the other kids in the waiting room having to listen to him scream bloody murder for ten minutes.  Not exactly a great introduction into going to the dentist.  And then the dentist came back with our "two options:" either pull both his front teeth right then and there or wait a week and most certainly have to pull them then.

That's the point when I lost it.  I know they are only baby teeth but the news that they wanted to pull them was shocking.  I said no way to pulling them onsite, asked a few more questions and we left with an appointment set up for ten days later.  I've since come to terms with the idea that they may need to remove his teeth and it will be okay, but in the meantime we are also going to get a second opinion just to make sure it's really necessary.

So it's been a rough couple of days in the Ketchup house... but through it all and certainly now that we've had some time to see that he is going to be okay and to adjust to the possibility of losing the teeth, I know that it could have been way worse.   It can always be worse.

It was scary and hard, and it is sad to see his swollen little face right now, but he is okay.  There are parents who go through much worse with their kids.  And there are people who have tried to become parents and would give anything to be in our shoes with a healthy, normal kid who is going to have some accidents in his life and at worse might be without his front teeth for a few more years than we expected.

It's good to remember that there is always someone who would love to have your bad days....

Cuddle Fairy

My Random Musings

Monday, August 31, 2015

Reveal Cake #FAIL


Flashback to a few weeks ago when my mom asked me if I wanted to have a gender reveal party for the baby...

My first thought was that I wasn't interested but then I thought.... well I do really like cake so.... maybe?

Once I gave her the yellow light of a maybe she let her imagination run wild.  Before I knew it, she was planning a party where we would FaceTime friends and family across the country.  And we would mail them all petit fours (mini cakes) with the blue or pink on the inside for them all to enjoy while they watched us cut the cake for the reveal over 1000 miles away.

The more I thought about it though, the more it just didn't feel like me (or my husband).  First of all - I'm a data/input person.  If there is information out there I want to know it RIGHT NOW.  I don't have the patience to wait for a party and for a baker to make a cake to find out something like this.

I also thought about how I really want to stay away from using the term gender at this point (really we were just learning the baby's sex) so what would we even call the party?  "Sex Party" doesn't have quite the connotation we would be looking for...

My mom suggested we call it a "Blue or Pink Party" but then that brings up a whole slew of other issues I have with pushing gender stereotypes on our children and the consumer culture of pink vs. blue for children.  (Yes, Mom, I know it can be exhausting to be my mother but at least I have convictions!)

So at that point we put the reveal party idea behind us.  I told my husband about my mom's ideas and he immediately said "no - that's not us."  We may have a party to celebrate this baby's impending arrival but it will be just that - a gathering of friends to celebrate Tater Tot.


Now to the day we actually found out Tater Tot is a boy.  I already shared the corny, but sweet way I shared the news with my husband here.

My mom called to to find out if I had heard and again I just didn't feel right telling her over the phone so I told her I knew but wasn't ready to tell her.  I had to make her squirm a little, you know.  She actually threw an "it's not like I gave birth to you or anything" at me, but I held strong and didn't let on.

I called my husband and we hatched a plan to give my mom the reveal cake she wanted.  I invited her to over for dessert and stopped at two different stores to find cake mix and blue food coloring (yes, I have convictions but I also was short on time to come up with any other ideas and I knew my mom would enjoy it).

And thus begins the creation of the ugliest reveal cake in the history of reveal cakes...

It started out well enough...

That's me: Suzy Homemaker.  Ahem.
We had our bright, blue cake batter ready and even cooked perfectly.  Then we tried to transfer the cake....

Oops.  :-/
Okay - we can work with this.  Let's just cut it into a smaller cake and ice it.  No big deal!

This is going from bad to worse... The blue from the cake came through the icing, and I made the mistake of heating up the icing in the microwave to make it more spreadable but instead turned it into liquid icing.  


Should've bought an extra tub of icing.

Thankfully I got the funfetti cake so the sprinkles helped camouflage the blue and well... maybe helped make it look a little better?  Maybe....

At least it tasted good!  Any my mom got her "reveal party" after all.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

And it's a......!

This week we found out the sex of this little baby (Tater Tot To Be)!

Unlike with our first (FrenchFry), when my husband and I found out together during our 18 week ultrasound, this time we found out through a phone call based on a blood test done at 14 weeks.  It's amazing to see the medical advancements in just a few years between pregnancies.

I got the news over the phone while I was working from home and my husband was at work.  I just didn't feel right telling him the news through a text or phone call so I hatched a last minute plan to surprise him at work.

I quickly ran over to the grocery store to get some flowers and to find something to help me share the news.  And I settled on some petit fours that had the familiar color (I'm not too into the blue is for boys and pink is for girls thing, but I  like convenience and this was the easiest plan I could hatch in the few minutes I had).

I drove over to my husband's office and texted him from the parking lot that I got the call.  He immediately called me back and said "Aaaaaannnnnnndddddd????"  So I told him to come outside.

And then I gave him the bag with the petit fours to open and inside he found...

Tater Tot is a BOY!!!

The plan was a bit corny but it in reality it was also very special and sweet.  My husband was very surprised by the visit and it was great to be able to tell him the news in person.

I don't know why but I've always thought I would be the mother of boys.  And now that's going to be true!  TWO boys!  And FrenchFry is going to have a little brother.  We can't wait until this little guy is here and have our two little boys together.

Parents of BOYS.  :-)

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