Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Things I need help with

I'm 36 and today I met with a local service that councils mothers during pregnancy and postpartum. I was super nervous because I am very bad at admitting when I need help and I also feel like I shouldn't need help! I am an adult for goodness sakes!

Anyway, the service usually assists low income mothers and we are not low income which made me feel even worse, but a friend of mine had been telling me I needed to contact them for literal months now and I knew she was right. I have a chronic illness, a husband who works a lot, very little support from family due to their circumstances, depression over my rapidly declining health due to this pregnancy and a lot of anxiety and stress surrounding birth. I am not handling it well and I have known for awhile now but didn't know much I could do about it. I figured if I met with these ladies for the first time they could tell me if I wasn't a good fit but they didn't! The service meets with you once a week through your pregnancy and for a few months afterwards to help support you mentally and they also offer a lot of classes and other things as options you can "add on" to what you need. Like referrals to counselors, cooking classes, help finding apartments, breastfeeding help...it's a great non profit and I am excited to see what they might be able to help me with. At the first meeting they asked me a lot of questions about what I might be needing and I tried to be honest with what I am struggling with but I couldn't put into words actual questions that I had. 

Well, after mulling over it (and other unrelated things) I thought of the actual issues I am dealing with in my mid-30s and how to turn them into questions. Which lead me down a rabbit hole of unrelated motherhood/postpartum questions and into the deep issues I am dealing with in all facets of my life. I clipped it down to the top 10 things I hope to work on (at least somehow) this year.

1) I need to figure out how to get what I need done around the house (and in the kitchen) without overwhelming myself and using up all the energy in my body. Is this possible? Do other mothers without chronic illnesses deal with this? I get halfway though tasks and run out of whatever energy my body is running on and it literally shuts down. And I shut down. Sometimes for the rest of the day. 

2) I need to find time to be myself. I need a break from the kids that isn't full of stress, screaming, meltdowns or interruptions...ideally this would happen once a week but I would be fine with every other week. If it happens less often usually I am so burnt out I can't take advantage of it.

3) I need to figure out what is wrong with my hormones or myself. I don't like to be touched, and I know my husband definitely isn't interested in an intimacy-free marriage. I know a lot of my trauma with my birth with Reuben plays into this (it's a long story that I did blog about but am having a hard time finding the actual posts...to make a long story short, for 18 months after I gave birth sex was horrifically painful. Then for 1 year after I had Becky the same thing happened! I don't know why. Sex doesn't hurt anymore but all those times that it did left a deep impression on me and I just am not interested. There are more reasons too, but that's the biggest one I can think of)

4) Actually start doing some things around our house to, you know, STOP LIVING IN A FIXER UPPER. It has been 10 years. I am ready for my house to not be falling apart, thank you very much. Which means I am about to learn a bunch of new skills. If my chronic illness lets me. But I am so over it. This is not the house I thought I would be living in at 36. I want walls that are only one color, thank you, and siding that is not falling off in places. Literal dreams!

5) How to have better and more understandable boundaries with my extended family. 

6) How to not be on my phone/internet for goodness knows how many number of hours when I am burnt out. It's not a good coping mechanism.

7) How to get enough sleep in the first year after having a baby. Is this a thing that is achievable? I don't know.  

8) How to ask for help when I need it without feeling inadequate and like I'm a horrible mother. 

9) Make space for regular time with friends? Also unachievable since my friends are all exhausted moms but...it can be a goal right?

10) Once a month date night with husband. We need time together. Our communication and intimacy is surviving on threads.

Did I miss anything? 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Week 28

This pregnancy is dragging. But also I am over halfway! 

We have had a lot going on. Tough conversations in our marriage. Tough looks at my life. Reuben is sick with a cold since last week, luckily no one else has gotten it yet. Any new milestone/event is going to cause stress in a relationship, and with my husband working tons of hours coupled with my growing belly...is no exception.

Today when my husband woke up he was talking about how this is an easier time; that the first time (when I was pregnant with Reuben) was way scarier for him. But it is not the same for me. This time I know what I am facing; labor and the newborn phase which is mostly handled by me. I know how sleep deprived and stressed and depressed I am going to be. It is really hard, and most of the baby caring and work falls on me.

Frantically I have been trying to figure out how to 'set my self up for success' but I don't know if this is completely possible. I thought I would ask my husband to take off more time from work using the FLMA (unpaid family leave) program but there are two large issues we have discovered when he spoke to his HR. One, if he uses FLMA he looses his insurance. We kind of need that since I will be in the hospital having a baby. Two, he doesn't qualify for FLMA because he is not the one having a baby.

I cried. I need him, he is all I have. And to hear we couldn't take those weeks was such a let down. My mother works, my mother in law is not helpful. We don't have anyone else. I have great friends but all of them are exhausted moms just like me! 

But, the plus side is I have been saving money for the unpaid time off and maybe I can use that money to hire a postpartum doula? Or buy some large $$ items that we need in our house. I haven't decided yet. 

My husband does get four weeks paid leave for this baby. This is amazing and would be enough if he wasn't planning on doing the siding and putting a new roof on our house. He will be working and need me to handle everything else after the baby comes. We need new siding desperately in our home and that was why I wanted him to take extra time, so I would have time to rest when needed and he would have time to get his projects done. Literally parts of our house are falling apart, our roof leaks. It is not fun. I am stressed about our home almost as much as I am stressed about this baby. 

Somehow we have to make it work. I just don't want to sacrifice my mental and physical health for our house...again. I can't do it.

I feel stuck.

I hate feeling stuck. I like to solve my problems. 

Another thing I have been dealing with is a lot of anger with my husband. I have been talking to him about it and trying to work through it. I am angry at him for not letting me birth where I want to birth. I want a home birth. He is vehemently against it. I finally told him that I desperately need him to come to my OB appointments because I am having a really hard time going by myself. I need him. I have never needed him before like this, but I feel stressed whenever I walk into that place and I am having a hard time advocating for myself. I do like my OB (same one I gave birth to Reuben and Becky) I just sometimes don't feel safe there. I don't know what to do about it. I wanted a home birth for so many reasons and I am really struggling with coming to terms with another hospital birth with bright lights and loud machines and constant interruptions for interventions I don't want. I am stressed about potentially having to advocate for myself while in labor. Just because they were mostly great last time I gave birth over five years ago does not mean they will be this time. But with a home birth I would know what I was getting, and I could stay home. My children could stay home. I have been grieving the birth I thought I was going to have and feeling a lot of anger at my husband who I feel does not hear me. 

But I can't do anything about that either. Except pray and try to come to terms with it. My husband does not feel safe with me birthing at home and I can't keep fighting him. I am just miserable. 

Anyway. Today I woke up to a fasting blood sugar of 178. I stared at it in utter shock. Surly that was completely wrong. I have been testing my blood sugar one week a month since this pregnancy started and never had a fasting over 97. I tested my blood sugar a ton with Becky and it was never over 110. I reloaded my device and tested a different finger. It read 177. 

Well, I ate breakfast and two hours later my blood sugar was back down to 88. After lunch it was 87. Those are totally normal readings. I called my OB and she said she has seen high fastings before when people take too long of a break between meals. I did skip my snack last night and I did sleep in and test my fasting later than normal, so maybe that is all it is. I hope it is a number I never see again! I have to control my blood sugar or I will be labeled high risk and I will have a bunch of other issues to fend off. I don't want continual fetal monitoring or an IV when I give birth, and I know if I am technically high risk the hospital will push for these things. 

Please continue to pray for this pregnancy and for my motherhood, my emotional state and my labor. God is good and I will continue to try to trust in him even though these things I can't control...there is a lot of things you can't control about pregnancy. Perhaps that is a lesson God is actively trying to teach me; to trust him more and relinquish my control. 

Happy to be here in the third trimester (finally) with baby girl. Right now I really like the name Adelheid or Heidi for short. It could have something to do with the book I am currently reading by the same name.

12 more weeks until she's due!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Week 25

These past few weeks have been...what I would call a mental health roller coster! Pregnancy hormones and just a lot of adjusting. A lot of crying. 

I have come to realize that I am struggling with a lot of unhappiness over my pregnancy and all the life changes that are coming back to back, like a contraction that just never ends. I feel lonely; my husband is working long hours and I still have trouble going out with so much to do at home. After coming out of those long weeks of survival with morning sickness I feel ugly, washed up, behind, my house is a mess. I feel stuck. Not to mention extremely pregnant! 

As my due date looms closer I am wrestling with fear over labor. I will have to go through this alone. Yes, my husband will be there and I will have a doula, but the pain will be mine alone and the pushing the baby out of my uterus will be preformed by...me. Not to mention there are so many complications that can arise during labor and delivery and I am trying not to panic about each one. God will be with me, I have plans for managing the pain as best I can but more and more I come to realize that I really didn't want to do this again. I honestly didn't think I would ever have another baby after six miscarriages! I also really wanted a home-birth. I don't want to be a car while in labor, I don't want to go to a hospital, I don't want to have to try and navigate masks and covid in a hospital setting and all the requirements that come with birthing with Big Pharma. However my husband is not comfortable with a home birth and after 10 weeks of arguing and crying and begging I decided on a hospital birth and I thought that was the end of this dilemma. But now I am struggling with anger towards my husband for not letting me birth where I want. While he may be relaxed and happy with this turn of events, I need to acknowledge and somehow deal with the fact that I am not. And I don't know how to talk to him about it. 

Another thing we have been dealing with is all the inflation and finances and costs of having a baby. I am a minimalist so the cost should be low but we still need diapers, wipes, and many other necessities and inflation is making it no fun. Inflation makes grocery shopping and meal planning no fun! I am going to wait until after my baby shower to buy all the little things... there are so many cute little baby girl things I can't wait for her to wear. I am so thankful I have so many nice friends who, now out of the baby stage, have gifted me many necessities. 

I am in love with this baby. I am not in love with my body, the fatigue, the stress, or the fear surrounding this pregnancy. I am not in love with another hospital birth. I am not looking forward to sleepless nights, sore nipples, pain after labor, bleeding, hemorrhoids, and my postpartum body.

Maybe this baby will sleep.

With the added burden of growing a human I have also not been handling daily life well. I have been sleeping in--which I finally decided to stop feeling bad over and I switched my morning routine around to a night routine and it is working well. Maybe one day I will wake up before 8am again. We started putting the kids to bed later and now they don't wake up before us which is really nice. See, there are adjustments that can be made, but change is still hard! 

Though it all God has been my constant companion. Reuben's verse that he is memorizing right now in school is my pregnancy verse. I want it on the wall when I give birth. 

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:7
I think and pray this verse at least once a day. I want to be strong and courageous instead of fearful and afraid. 

Another thing I have been meditating on is the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. I also want this on the wall when I give birth.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Even in the midst of hard things, God is there. And I can have peace. His will will be done and I can trust in him.