Tag Archives: anxiety

The H Word

Writing about my son’s physical therapy falls under the things I don’t want to talk about or write about, but it has to come out somehow.  I am having major feelings about it.  He has torticollis, likely from the way he was positioned in the womb.  I have a bicornuate uterus, which means it is heart shaped and therefore gave my baby less room to move around.  This means that he has a preference to look to his left side vs. his right side.  He also has a flat spot at the back of his head, mostly in the middle, but it is a little flatter on the left side due to him always wanting to position his head that way, even in his sleep.  (Yes, even when I reposition it.)  File this under the things that I have major mommy guilt about.  Maybe it sounds lame to have mommy guilt about something like this, but I do.  (I shouldn’t have let him sleep in the rock ‘n play.  I read about those things causing flat head.  I should have held him more and put him down less.)  I could go on.

While at first the pediatrician wanted to “keep an eye on it”, we have now landed ourselves in physical therapy as of yesterday, learning exercises that can help with his stiffness and preference of looking always to his left and now also rolling always to his left.  The exercises seem easy enough, but we are supposed to do them at every diaper change and even more if we can.  Two exercises 4-6 reps on each side.  Each rep takes 20-30 seconds with rest time in between.  So that’s a minumum of 16 thirty second exercises, which is 8 minutes minus the rest times.  If we do the 6 reps, it’s 24 exercises, which is 12 minutes.  The thing is, it takes a lot longer than that.  If he is unhappy and starts fussing at any point, we are supposed to stop and make him happy/distracted so we can try again.  One exercise he tolerates pretty well.  The other one, he hates.  I haven’t even been able to successfully do it at all yet today, though not for lack of trying.  He is also supposed to have a minimum of 60 minutes of tummy time per day (broken up however it works) and floor time on his back to help him look both right and left, which is also supposed to happen after each diaper change.

Whew, okay, so with all of that, he is 4 months old.  I think he is teething, and he is on a 90 minute wake schedule.  He wakes up, diaper change, eats, plays, and then is being put back down at about the 90 minute mark.  He is also breast fed and a slower eater, so he takes about 25-30 minutes to nurse.  Then he sleeps anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for each nap.

It was hard to leave the house to do any errands or outings before because of this 90 minute schedule.  He typically doesn’t sleep in the car or when we’re out, even if I have him in the carrier, because there is too much to look at, so when we would go out on an errand, I knew it just meant his awake time would be stretched and we would likely not reach his 14-16 hours of recommended sleep that day.  Now, I am wondering how I can ever keep up with these exercises and go anywhere or do anything.

File this under things I really really don’t want to talk about.  When we were at the physical therapy appointment yesterday, she brought up the “h” word.  Helmet.  She wants to give him a month and a half to see how he does and then at that point determine if we need to take him to have a consultation with some cranial technologies people to assess his need for a helmet to reshape his head.  (Of course I can’t see them saying that he doesn’t need one, given that making helmets is how they make money.)

I can’t even.  I’ve been crying off and on since the appointment.  I really really really don’t want him to have to wear a helmet.   I really really really don’t want to go out of the house with him in this helmet that the pamphlet says will have to be worn 23 hours a day.  I don’t want to deal with the stares, people’s judgements and comments, and feeling like a bad mom because I allowed it to get this bad. This is why I am determined to do these exercises correctly and with the frequency I am supposed to do them despite it seeming like that will leave me stuck in the house most of these next few months.

My fear is that I will do everything I am supposed to do with him to the best of my ability, and yet we will still be told that he needs to wear the stupid helmet.  People are mean and judgmental and gawking.  I have social anxiety disorder and an extreme case of the mama bears.  I feel like I will alternatively spontaneously combust from holding things in and erupt at people who dare to make one false move or glare or comment.  I fear I will be mom shamed.  I fear even my family and friends will judge me quietly, even if they are nice to me to my face.  I fear that my baby will not be okay because of his mis-shapen head and that I will have to deal with the guilt of that as he grows up.

I feel like I did when I was having such a hard time nursing in the beginning, when the baby wasn’t taking enough out despite there being enough supply, yet his not taking enough out made my supply go down.  It looked like we were going to have to supplement with formula, which was the very last thing I wanted to do.  I spent a good few months losing sleep because of being up with a baby like a normal newborn but then also pumping every two hours right after the baby ate and taking all kinds of supplements.  It was exhausting.  In the end it was worth it because I now successfully ebf, and as of our last appointment, the baby was gaining an ounce a day.  Hooray!  But in that few months, I felt like I was doing things wrong, like I was failing, like I wasn’t going to make it out of that phase.  I feel the same fears and sadness with this new challenge.  I fear that it will not turn out as well as the breastfeeding challenge despite my best efforts.  I feel hopeless, and I feel sad that I feel hopeless, and I feel afraid and like I am not really doing very well.  I feel mad that this is another thing that is so hard, and I feel myself comparing to other moms and babies I know who this stuff came so easily to. Comparison is the thief of joy, I know.  I need to learn a lesson from my 4:8 baby who is very joyful oh so much of the time.

What Is Your Lens?

Tonight at church we were asked what our lens is.  How do we see the world?  What is important to us? How are we living that?  How do we want to live that?  The sharing was done in a big group format with at least 100 people present.  Not everybody shared, of course, and for me, that is a difficult forum to share in, although I have done it before.  I did appreciate the question, though, and part of me did want to share.  As I thought about what I might share, I realized that I do need to share, and this is the forum for me, at least for the moment.

It’s funny, because I teach a personal development class to pre-teens, and this is one of the topics we discuss: Paradigms.  What are your beliefs?  What is your point of view?  What is your perspective?  While I give examples from my life to them as I teach it, I haven’t seriously turned the question on myself and reflected upon it during a time when I don’t have a class of forty pre-teens.  

What is important to me?  What is my lens?  There are several obvious answers that first came to mind, but I feel like the obvious answers fall under a less immediately obvious umbrella.  

My lens is: Do hard things and inspire and encourage others to do hard things.  

Why is this my lens?  Because the theme of my life has been just that.  The obvious answers to the lens question were teaching and fostering, which you could basically simplify into one answer: children.  But in order to become a teacher and a foster mom, in order to remain in those roles, I’ve had to do hard things, things that I haven’t always wanted to do.  For heaven’s sakes, I work for two of the most complained about systems in the United States: the public school system and the foster care system.  If that’s not doing hard things, I don’t know what is!

So, why children?  I didn’t have the easiest childhood.  It’s not because I didn’t have two loving parents or because I had any kind of abuse or anything like that.  Things were just always hard for me.  I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder for 20 years of my life, which affected me socially, academically, and emotionally.  The challenges that I faced caused me to constantly have to do things that were hard.  I’m not talking about hard things like singing the national anthem in front of a stadium full of people or running for class president or running a marathon, which I did do later in life at the age of 30. I’m talking about hard things like answering a question when the teacher called on me in class or trying out for the high school basketball team or going to a school dance or even going outside to play at recess.  I couldn’t shy away from doing hard things.  If I did, it would mean never leaving the comfort of my home.    

My difficult childhood is the chief reason I became a teacher.  I had so many teachers who were angels here on earth for me.  Mrs. Kuykendall, Mrs. Raymond, Mrs. Niednagel, Mrs. Rodal, Mrs. Jones.  Many of them saw tears and comforted an often scared and emotional little girl or pre-teen or teenager.  They made me feel loved and like I wasn’t crazy and like everything would be okay.  They inspired me to want to be that for someone else.

Fostering was born of a desire to be a parent, a maternal instinct that I’ve had for years, a love of  babies that rivals that of most people I know.  It became about the most selfless act I have ever attempted and about learning to become a little more like Jesus.  It became about loving a baby so much that you feel like they are your own and then giving them up to their parents or family members or adoptive parents and trusting that God has a plan for them, a plan to prosper them and not to harm them, a plan to give them hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, my lenses are inspiring and encouraging people to do hard things, doing hard things myself, and taking care of children in the public school and foster care systems…always with God as my guide, loving, obeying, and serving him.

 

 

 

One Week In…A Story of Anxiety

Today is the one week mark of Little Dude’s arrival into my life.  He is the smallest baby for whom I have ever cared.  I never expected God to give me a preemie, but I am convinced He knows what He’s doing.  I’m humbled that He chose me as the best place for this little one, and I feel the immense responsibility of that.  With that feeling of immense responsibility comes waves of anxiety.  I don’t know what new moms did before the internet.  Google has become my best friend in my worry these past couple of days.  While there is a place for Google, and it is certainly helpful when I need a quick answer to a question, I want my security to be in God.  He knows exactly what he is doing, and He is protecting this little guy and myself, as I provide care and love and nurturing.  I am turning my focus from worry and Google to God, my Protector and my Safe Refuge.  The lack of sleep that comes along with such a new baby doesn’t help the anxiety, so I will continue to give myself grace and redirection as I need it in the days to come.

Even if I fully understood the lack of sleep, paperwork insanity, and broken system, at the outset, even if I knew for certain how exactly all of that would affect me and make me feel in the first week of my first placement, I would still have made the same decision to foster.  Does that make me crazy?  Maybe.  Many people think I am.  Fostering isn’t for everyone, and I don’t even think it would be for me, were it not for my personal relationship with God.  He has called me to foster, and I would not be able to do it without Him.

I love that this calling fills a desire that God put in my heart.  I love that this calling is so challenging that it calls me closer to God.  (James 4:8)  I love that this calling will help to grow my character and my faith.  I love that this calling is the pure religion that I am called to as a disciple of Christ.  (James 1:27)  I love that I get to “hold babies all day”, the job that I have always wanted.