Who Am I?

Over the last few months I have been going through an identity crisis of sorts.  I have had a really hard time reconciling what I have been told I should be as a mom, a writer, a Christian, a blogger, etc. with what I really am inside.  So I’ve taken some time to write how I see myself, the things that are defining me right now.  You might not agree, and that is okay. But this is me. This is who I am, and I am no longer ashamed to admit it.

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I’m a product of hippies and southern belles

A mutt in every sense of the word

Teaching and writing run through my veins

And the Red River clay clings to my soul.

My ancestors were pilgrims and free thinkers

Generals, prostitutes, and judges.

Each gave me something unique,

And filled me up, drop by drop, to make me whole.

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I am an American.

A Daughter or the Revolution, and the Texas Republic.

I love my country with all of my heart,

But I am scared for us too.

I believe in socialized healthcare and a flat tax for all.

Because I believe we were all created equal,

And our economic status should not determine our access to healthcare,

Or determine what percent of our earnings we give back to our nation.

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I am a daughter of Christ,

Forgiven of my sins.

But I’ve learned to focus more on the red words in my Bible,

And not the absurd expectations society says I must meet in order for my faith to be real.

I believe in a world were my privileges and rights,

Are not defined by my race, gender, or sexual preference.

I believe that our forefathers built our nation on the freedom of all religions,

And not just the one I belong to.

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I am a feminist.

Not because I believe all men are rapists, or that I am superior in any way.

But because I believe that I am equal.

And that my anatomy should not subject me to lower pay and less respect.

I would rather befriend a pot head than an alcoholic,

Because marijuana doesn’t make you go home and beat your wife.

The only thing I need to protect from pot is my Cocoa Puffs,

And cereal can be replaced, but people cannot.

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I am a mother.

My heart belongs to the three little souls who fill my heart with love,

And my days with chaos.

They complete me, in every sense of the word.

I am an advocate and a dreamer,

A writer, and sometimes a screamer.

I am far from perfect, and I don’t have all the answers.

I am me, and I am learning to not only be comfortable in my own skin, but to embrace it.

 

Traumatizing Mom Moments: Been There, Done that

Addi The Moogie Traumatizing Mom Moments

Traumatizing mom moments, they are like bad habits.  We all have them.  I’ve been pooped on, peed on, and puked on, in public, by all three kids.  I’ve been at the center of tantrums in the middle of the Target checkout line, and I’ve been stared at in restaurants while my child turned to the other table and asked to sample their ketchup (okay, that last one didn’t really happen, but I’m sure it’s happened to someone).  The point is that in my seven (almost 8!) years of mommyhood, I have dealt with a lot  at the hands of my little spawns.  By far though, the most traumatizing mom moment that I have experience so far though was when I lost Addi.

Yes, you read that right.  I lost Addi.

It was awful, it was traumatizing.  It was something that many moms would probably not want to really put out there for the entire world to read.  But I know I am not the only person it has ever happened to, and I know I won’t be the last.

It was about three years ago at the Pearl Harbor Commissary.  Addi and I were leaving the store and headed out to our car.  Addis always, and I mean always, walked directly behind me and my big pregnant belly as we made our way to the parking lot and it’s like the one time in her life when she is ever quiet routinely, so I didn’t even think about the lack of noise as I made my way to the car.  I unlocked it, and turned around to lift her into her seat like I do every. single. time.  But this time she wasn’t there.

Now I am sure you can imagine the panic I felt that afternoon.  I promptly left all of my groceries and the buggy by my car as I waddled like a bat out of hell towards the commissary once again, yelling her name every few feet.  I got a lot of looks, but not one person out of the bajillion people in the parking lot stopped to ask if everything was okay or what I was yelling about.  In fact it wasn’t until I had made my way to the front of the store that someone stopped me and said the best words that have ever graced my ears “I think she is over there.”, as they pointed to a lady with two kids standing in the midst of all of the chaos.  My little girl was crying and clinging to her hand, but she was there, and she was okay.

It turns out that when we walked out of the store Addi had seen two kids about her age standing next to the bushes outside of the commissary and wandered over to them to see what they were looking at.  Addi never thought to tell me where she was going (or ask it if was okay).  Within seconds she realized I wasn’t there, and thankfully remembered what I had told her to do if she ever got lost.  She found another mama, who had kids with her, and told her what had happened.

I don’t remember that mama’s name, but I remember the look she gave me.  It wasn’t one of disdain or annoyance, instead it was one of understanding and shared sisterhood.  She hugged me while I cried tears of joy, and told me she had been there, done that.  She told me not to be too hard on myself, and to go home and snuggle with my baby.

I will never forget that mama, and the compassion she showed to me in what was one of the worst times of my life to date.  Often times I think that many of us think of motherhood as a competition.  More than once the thought has crossed my own mind that at least I am not that bad, while comparing myself to another mother and her actions.  But it isn’t fair, and it isn’t right.

None of us are flawless in our motherhood journeys, none of us are perfect.  We need to lift each other up instead of push each other down, we need to realize we are all playing on the same team here.  Maybe if we were to do that, not only would we benefit from it, but our kids would to.

An Ode to the Mom Bun

An Ode to the Mom Bun The Moogie

This post was originally posted on my former blog, The Moogie, but in honor of Mother’s Day yesterday I decided to post it here too.  For all you moms out there, you are loved, you are appreciated, you are important.

I see you over there. Your hair pulled up, not because it is the latest fashion, or even because it is ‘messy cute’.  It is based more on time and ease than how many Pinterest pins it would get.  No, your hair is not inspired by magazines and movie stars, it is inspired by the messes and spills, cuddles and hugs that make up your day.

At 5:00 a.m. it is pulled up in a sleepy haze while you wake up to start your coffee, make bottles, and change diapers.

Maybe it’s tossed back after breakfast when your bending down to sweep up the scramble eggs for the third time this morning; or as you lean in for snuggles and a story as nap time draws near.

At 3:00 it’s thrown up while you run to your child on the playground, and again at 6:00 when you splash and scrub your Little’s in the bath.

It comes in the form of a bun, a pony tail, and even a braid.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and you can do it without even thinking.  It’s automatic and engrained, a testimony to the love and devotion you put into the day’s tasks, both menial and substantial.  It’s a part of your uniform, mini vans and yoga pants optional.

It might not be vogue, but it tells a story; and that mama, is not just amazing, it’s inspiring.

Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad, and the Bloody

The Moogie Breastfeeding The Good The Bad and The Bloody

Photo Courtesy of Addi

So far I have spent over two years of my life nursing babies.  Two full years providing nutrients so that my little one can grow and develop.  It is something that I truly love and have become passionate about.  I mean not only does it save my family money, but I am also providing my babies with tons of nutrients to help them grow and develop to be healthy and strong kids and adults.

But with that said, breastfeeding is not all sunshine and daisies.  Breastfeeding is hard y’all, it’s really freaking hard. Which is why it isn’t surprising the only 13% of new moms successfully breastfeed exclusively for the first six months (according to a 2013 study from the UC Davis Medical Center).  And unfortunately many women are left unsupported thanks to a mixture of social taboos and pure ignorance on benefits of a mother’s milk.

I myself stopped breastfeeding Addi at two months after an ER doctor gave me a medication that was not breastfeeding friendly when I came down to with a bout of pneumonia. I was told I would need to pump and dump for two weeks to keep my supply up.  I had a small supply of pumped milk in my freezer that was gone within two days, and Addi was moved to formula.  I tried y’all, I tried really hard, but I was only 19 and the whispers of “Isn’t pumping too much work” and “You know it’s not a badge of honor, you don’t HAVE to keep nursing.” soon got to me, and I gave up.

If I am being honest, I felt like a failure.  I felt like not only had I let my baby down, I had let myself down.

When Atlas was born I was determined that this time I would be able to breastfeed successfully.  When I was preparing to breastfeed Addi I did very little actual preparing.  I thought it would just happen, and it did for the first two months, but I felt that maybe if I had prepared more for the possibility of failure it might not have happened.

So while pregnant with Atlas I read.  I read everything I could get my hands on, and I didn’t stop there.  I watched YouTube videos and asked for tips and tricks from professionals and other moms like me.  I felt like I was preparing for the boob olympics or something.

I was amazed at the range of advice that I got, and I do believe it helped me a ton when it came to nursing him.  He successfully breastfed for 14 months, when he decided to wean himself, and never got a drop of formula.  Austen is going strong at almost 9 months, and is showing no signs of slowing down!

But with that said I would like to pay it forward, and share with you some tips, tricks, and tidbits of advice that I have found beneficial during my breastfeeding journey.

It is not one size fits all.  Just as breasts come in many different shapes and sizes, so do breastfeeding journeys.  No two journeys are going to be exactly the same.  Some people have no problems at all, breastfeeding is a breeze to them.  Other’s experience cracking and bleeding, engorgement and mastitis.  But just because your journey is different than the woman’s next to you, doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong, or that you cannot succeed.  You just have to find your own path and go with it.

Cracking? Bleeding?  Yep, I said it.  Breastfeeding freaking hurts.  I honestly didn’t believe this one at first, because breastfeeding Addi was super easy (please don’t throw tomatoes at me).  Until I got sick we literally never had any problems.  She had an awesome latch, I had a good supply, we must did it. I seriously thought everyones horror stories were complete exaggerations.

But then I watched my best friend try to nurse.

I’ll never forget her calling me after her son was born.  She was crying and saying this whole breastfeeding thing just wasn’t going to work out.  I went over to her house to see if I could help at all, and she showed me her boobs (when you’ve been best friends since you were nine, privacy doesn’t really exist) and my jaw hit the floor.  I had never seen anything so painful looking in my life.  She said she was in tears every time she tried to nurse, and I believed her.

I’m still grateful that I never had to experience such pain, but if you do there are ways to help.  A good nipple balm can soothe and help to heal cracked and sore skin.  Some women have also found that a warm tea bag used as a compress, or even rubbing some of their own breastmilk into the nipple helps them to heal.

As for the cause of the pain?  Often it is as simple as the babies latch, or positioning when they nurse.  A lactation consultant, nurse, or even your pediatrician can often help you trouble shoot and find a more comfortable nursing style for you and baby.

It’s a rollercoaster. Your emotions are going to go up and down, even after the post part hormones level out. Sometimes you will feel amazing about your breastfeeding journey, other times you will be in tears holing yourself up in the bathroom. There will be times when you feel that your body is not your own, and you will fear that it never will be again.  Then there will be times when you feel amazing about nursing.  You will love the bond it gives you with your baby, and the way they smile at you in between latches will simply melt your heart.  If I am being honest, hanging onto my emotions has often seemed just as daunting as the act of nursing itself.  But I have learned to just roll with it, and realize that tomorrow my feelings will probably be completely different.

It’s like a marathon, not a sprint. As your baby grows and changes, so does their nutritional needs.   But your body is seriously amazing.  As your babies needs change, your baby will signal to your body that it needs more milk through actions such as cluster feeding.  You might think it means that your baby isn’t getting enough, and you might be tempted to supplement with formula.  But your baby is more than likely getting exactly what they need, and the cluster feeds are telling your body to produce more milk for them.  Soon enough your babies feedings will level out again. Until their next growth spurt, that is.

And finally, my last piece of advice is that sometimes breastfeeding is simply not for everyone.  While I love what breastfeeding has done for my family, and fully advocate the benefits of it for both mom and baby, sometimes it’s just not the right fit for a particular mommy or baby.  That is OKAY! When I had first stopped nursing Addi another mama comforted me with these words of advice “It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, as long as you feed your baby.” So simple, and yet so, so true!  We all make the choices we do in parenting because we want whats best for us and for our kids. I don’t know the girl next to me’s story, I don’t know if she bottle feeds because it is medically necessary, or works full-time, or is an adoptive mama, or because she simply doesn’t want to.  Whatever her reasons, they are hers, and I’m okay with that.

Just as I feel an outsider has no right to tell me where I can feed my baby, I feel that I have no right telling a bottle-feeding mom what she can feed her baby.

So bottle or boob, choose what feels right to you, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  You’ve got this mama, your baby trusts your instincts, and so do I!

Austen’s Seizure Story

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Austen and Molly, my Aunts old dog and one of Austen’s best friends.

Today Austen is 8 months old, it’s a very big day in her life.  Eight months in the outside world, eight months making her mark, and stamping her presence into our hearts and souls.  It’s hard to believe that it has been two months since Austen had her first seizure, two months since our lives changed forever.

Now I’ve touch some on Austen’s seizure history (you can read about here and here, but I’ve never sat down and wrote the entire story out.  I’ve tried to film it several times, but it never felt right.  Today feels different though, today feels right.  I’d grab a drink and possibly a snack if I were you, this could get long.

So it all started on a Thursday night.  Everything seemed fine, Austen was happy, she had her bath and went to bed fine.  Literally nothing seemed out of place.  At 1:30 a.m. Atlas woke up needing his diaper changed, his cries woke Austen up as well.  Half asleep still myself, I went into the living room to grab diapers for both of them before making my way back to the bedroom, but before I got back Dusty was yelling and asking what was wrong with the baby.  Still in a haze I yelled, “She got woken up!”, but he quickly replied that it wasn’t that, something was really wrong.

I ran to the bedroom and found Dusty holding Austen, who was shaking and convulsing in his arms.  Seizure number one had hit, we were terrified.  But an ambulance ride and ER visit later we were told that it was probably just a febrile seizure (she had a temp of 100.9 in the ambulance), and odds were she would never have another one again.  A trip to the pediatrician later that morning told us the same thing, it turns out that 2/3 of kids between 6 months and 6 years will have a febrile seizure at some point, and the majority of those kids will never have another one again.  The odds were in our favor, we went home relieved.

Austen slept most of that day, which was to be expected, and although she had a low grade fever off and on, the pediatrician did not seem concerned.  The following morning she still had a low grade fever, and there was blood in her right ear, so we decided to take her back in to her pediatrician. It turns out she had just scratched her ear, but he recommended we go on a tylenol/ibuprofen regimen.  He restated what we had been told previously about febrile seizures, but told us to call his office if we had any questions at all.  It was less than an hour later that Austen had her second seizure in the store while I was picking up the ibuprofen.  It lasted less than two minutes, and straight back to the pediatricians we went.

This time the pediatrician suggested we be admitted for observations, just in case she had another one that night.  Thank God he did.  That evening Austen had not one, but two more seizures.  The first lasting five minutes, and the second lasting a whopping 34 minutes.  It was a very scary ordeal which led to her being pumped full of anti seizure meds, put under anesthetics, and intubated.  I had to leave the room, I couldn’t handle seeing my baby going through all of that, but I’ll never forget the doctor turning to Dusty and saying that at this point she would be care flown to Children’s.  Her care was too intensive for our little hospital to handle.

Now let me stop a moment to explain a little something about seizures.  There are several types of seizures, for one thing.  At this point Austen’s were still simply considered ‘febrile’, and with febrile seizures they can be either simple (meaning they last less than 15 minutes) or complex (lasting 15 minutes or more).  It’s when a seizure runs into the complex category that the risk of brain damage occurs, and that risk increases with each passing minute.

I was able to fly with Austen to Children’s and Dusty met us there along with my father-in-law, his girlfriend, and my brother-in-law.  We were able to see her for a few moment as the ICU team started working, and then we were put in the waiting room while they began to run tests.

The worst moment of my life so far was when one of the neurologists came in and told us that they weren’t actually sure if Austen’s seizure actually stopped, that they were worried the anesthetic only stopped her body from convulsing, but that her brain might still be seizing.  She told us we needed to brace ourselves for the very real possibility that our little girl might have severe and long lasting brain damage.  Have you ever seen Once Upon a Time, where Regina shoves her hand into someones chest and rips their heart out?  That’s what it felt like. And with each word that came out of the neurologists mouth it felt like it was happening over and over again.

Slowly the tests started coming back, and although the next few days in ICU were really tough, good news started to make its way into our lives little by little.  First her CT was clear, and although her EEG did show some slowing on the left side of her brain, it did not show any seizure activity.  Finally a few days later it was time for her MRI, the big test that would give us a clearer picture of what damage, if any, Austen’s brain had endured.  It was an intense several hour wait, but I cried tears of joy when we were told the MRI came back clear and that they expected Austen to make a full cognitive recovery.

Over the next several days Austen was taken off of the ventilator, allowed to nurse again, and eventually we were sent home on an anti-seizure medication called phenobarbital twice a day.  We had hoped that would be the end of Austen’s seizure story, but unfortunately she had another seizure only a month later. This one lasting 10 minutes.  We were sent back to Children’s and we have since weaned her off of the phenobarbital and switched her to keppra.

Austen’s seizure story still isn’t over. We still do not have answers, or a definitive diagnosis.  The neuro team at Children’s seems torn between diagnosing her seizures as febrile or saying she actually has epilepsy. At this point we are just trying to keep her healthy, since it seems that viruses and illness in general seem to trigger her seizures, even if her fever is low. But Austen isn’t letting her seizures stop her.  She is back to her old self and beyond.  She’s crawling and pulling up now, and she says mama and dada.  She loves to laugh at her big brother, and she thinks her Sissy hung the moon.  Every day that passes leaves me more excited about her future.

Our little girl is a fighter, and I can’t wait to see the impact that she leaves on this world.