A Nipple is a Nipple

There is so much controversy on the subject of breast vs bottle in regards to feeding babies. If you find yourself meandering through any mommy group online, you are bound to find a heated discussion on the topic. Nothing else in the parental community gets them more riled up than a good old discussion on how other people feel you should be caring for your children. 

When I had my first son, I was 20 years old and the thought of breastfeeding made me very uncomfortable. I didn’t even attempt to do it. As soon as he was born, I didn’t even acknowledge the nurses fluttering about asking if I wanted to try nursing my new bundle. I stopped them, and asked for the bottle. My son did great, he gained the appropriate amount of weight and did not have any adverse effects to the formula. He is a strong and healthy seven year old who very very rarely gets sick.

It was a different scenario when my second child was born. I was 27 this time around and more comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding. Plus it would save us tons of money. My goal was to make it at least six months on the boob, but I was secretly hoping I would make it the full year. When he was born, he latched on really well when I was in recovery for my C-section. I was hopeful. We got into our regular room and it became apparent over the next 48 hours I was there that he didn’t like my nipples. We tried different positions and nothing was working. We moved to the pump and the little bit of colostrum we could get out we fed him with a syringe. On my last day there this heavenly​ lactation consultant came in the room and introduced me to the breast shield. For those of you that don’t know, it’s basically a silicone pad that fits over the breast with a nipple on it. It makes it easier for the baby to suckle if you, like me, aren’t equipped with long enough nipples. We tried it and immediately he latched on. I was so excited to not have to pump every meal. The elation didn’t last long, I had a very hard time getting my supply up. I was power pumping and eating right and dancing naked in a bowl of snails during the full moon. Nothing was working and my supply was rapidly dwindling. After much frustration, I made the decision to switch him to formula. I was estatic. He was getting full, and in turn sleeping better and was in a better mood in general. He, too, is also a very healthy child. 

The point here is, what works for some, doesn’t work for others. And hell, some women just don’t want to breastfeed. That doesn’t make them selfish. As long as their babies are receiving the proper nutrition, who gives a shit? Let other people raise their kids how they see fit and don’t be a sanctimonious ass hat.

To My Children

I started my journey to motherhood on March 25, 2009 when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had so many emotions. I was 20 years old and set to marry my husband two months later. Fear was the largest feeling by far and large. As time went on, that began to fade into excitement. My sweet little boy was born in November and while I was battling some demons within myself, I was so in love. Being a mom was the most exhausting job I had ever taken on, but it was so worth it to watch this little human I had literally made from scratch inside my body, flourish and grow before my eyes. Shortly after he turned six, I found out I was carrying my second little boy. If I thought the first time around was a beautiful and humbling experience, it was nothing when I watched my seven year old son look at his newborn brother with such love and adoration. 

With all that being said, I am by no means a perfect mother. I have no clout to give anyone advice on how to be a good parent because I am learning every single day how to do that myself. I falter every step of the way. I am sometimes short tempered and irritable. I don’t always have the energy or the want to sit on the floor for endless rounds of board games or Legos. But I try. Sometimes when I’m so bleary-eyed from being up at all hours with a 14 month old who still doesn’t want to sleep through the night, I want time to speed up so they are both in school and I have time to be an adult again. But in the very next moment both of my gorgeous boys sit on my lap and hug me so tight I want time to stop all together. So I want to say this to my kids: while you may think that I nag and harp and make you eat too many vegetables or don’t give you enough time to play video games, please know that everything I do, I do for you. I go without simple pleasures or time to sleep in because I am too busy molding you into men that are going to do great things in life. Men who are going to treat women well, and handle your business and do whatever it takes to be successful and happy in life.

In parting, the one piece of advice I feel qualified to give to every single parent out there is to cherish your children. Hold them close and enjoy every single sticky, messy kiss, every squeal of Glee, every tantrum and fit, and everything in between. Childhood is over before you know it and your kids are out in the real world and living their own lives and we, as parents have to take a backseat at that point to their new experiences. Soak it all up while you can so you have something to remember when they are grown.

Clinging to Life: Coping With School Breaks

It’s 8pm on a Sunday and I am bleary eyed and irritable. Never in my life have I been more excited to be woken up by my alarm in the morning because it means Spring Break is finally over. Let me preface this by saying that I love my seven year old child unconditionally. I would move mountains for that boy. He is the one that made me a mommy and I will be forever grateful. But damnit, I’m exhausted. I’ve been a mother of two now for a little over a year and I know it’s work having both of my kids, but I forget just how much work when I don’t have a seven hour school day to break up the chaos that only two little boys can bring. When my kids are together for extended periods of time, they just feed off each other’s insanity whilst simultaneously leeching every ounce of energy my poor body possesses. And dear god the sheer amount of food my 50lb bean pole can stuff in his skinny little tummy is astounding. I really thought other moms of the world were exaggerating when they said their boys ate them out of house and home. They are literally human garbage disposals that feed off of goldfish and pizza rolls. 

I tried to be proactive this year and did some research on activities to do in the home to entertain my son while on his break from school. They all include a shit ton of glitter, slime, or uncooked pasta. Wanna guess who was interested in any of that shit? Not my kid. Instead I was met with, “okay, mom, obligatory craft time is over, can I go play Ghost Recon now? Or watch other children play with toys on YouTube?” Fine. But that only occupies him for an hour. When I tell him screen time is over and he has to amuse himself with his collection of toys that would put Toys R Us to shame, I’m met with deep gutteral sighs and massive amounts of eye rollings. When did kids stop liking toys? Insert cliche statement here: when I was his age I played outside until the street lights came on and only had a rusty can and some string to play with; tetanus was just a happy bonus! So I would get down on the floor with him and his various action figures and army men and listen to him tell me for 20 minutes that I’m playing “wrong” until I finally get so frustrated I want to chuck Darth Vader across the room. This has been my life on an endless loop for the last week. Not to mention caring for the 14 month old who must investigate everything myself or his brother is doing and cry if I’m not within a five foot radius of him. It’s been a real special time.

Do you want to know what has gotten me through this trying time? Gin. I whole heartedly recommend my method of therapy for all you mom’s out there who have just had enough at the end of the day. And if nothing else it makes clean up time after the kids are in bed much more enjoyable. 

Adventures in baby-shitting

I am 100% certain that if you are reading this and you have kids, you have at least one tale of your kids pooping or vomiting in such a way that it is memorable. If you have children and this hasn’t happened to you, rest assured, it totally will!

Location location location

My 7 y/o didn’t have too many instances where he painted with poop like the typical child. What was different about him, was where he would poop. When we lived in California, we lived on base. Their housing is basically like big housing developments with condos squished together. In our row we had four condos, behind us was a big parking area and then another row of four condos. We were very close with our neighbors and we used to hang out constantly in our garage. One day we were having a get together and our son was running around doing his thing. He reappeared a few minutes later and proceeded to tell us that he pooped in our neighbor’s yard (he was three at the time). All of us were pretty flabbergasted and didn’t believe him until we collectively walked to her side yard and found that he did, in fact, take a steamy one in her yard. This action was repeated at my in-laws house this year (at age seven), he said that’s what Marines do. I guess old habits die hard! He has also pooped in a bathroom trash can, a laundry basket, and the back of his closet. It is stressful in the moment, but absolutely hilarious when we look back on it. 

Not Another Depression Story 2

Denial

I sincerely didn’t believe that I suffered from depression. How could I be? Despite the fact that my husband was gone for seven months for training and then immediately shipped to Afghanistan for another seven months, I was alone with a baby and only had my new husband’s family, whom I wasn’t super acquainted with at this point, to help me, and Mom was going through cancer treatments. Nothing was wrong with me, I was simply overwhelmed with what was happening around me! Right? Wrong. This is what we call DEFLECTING people! And because I thought nothing was wrong with me, I did not seek help. In my mind, depressed people just lay around in bed all day feeling sorry for themselves. They don’t go out with friends and play with their kids! I was so stupid then. The denial was strong in this one. Pride is an ugly thing, friends. Instead of getting help, I self medicated. I was super mom by day, and party monster at night. Thank God for the liver’s wonderful regeneration power because I don’t know how I’m alive. This lifestyle eventually caught up with me and I started to shut down. I would send my son to stay with family several nights a week and just stay in bed. My house got dirty, and I stopped caring. I had become that image I held in my head of anybody who has ever suffered from depression. When that realization hit, it made me feel worse. My pride was still there, I still didn’t get help. But things started to change.

Reunited

My husband finally came home and we moved our family across the country to California, where my husband was to be stationed the remainder of his contract. Upon arrival, we learned he would be leaving again for another tour in Afghanistan only a measly six months after he had returned. I stayed with family for the majority of this time and that helped to appease the beast inside. When hubby returned, he was very different. He went through a lot going on back to back tours and he was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD. It was very trying with us for a couple of years. We are both very much “brush it under the rug” types of people so we just danced around each other’s issues and did a lot of DEFLECTING. So healthy, right?

It’s a new life

When hubby got out of the service, we moved back home to NC. After some adjustment, we settled into a decently normal life. We decided to have another baby. Things got pretty hairy. I learned before this that I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as well as endometriosis. Long story short, we weren’t even sure if I would be able to conceive, or have a healthy pregnancy. After a year of trying, we finally got the golden ticket. Throughout the pregnancy, I developed horrible anxiety. I was convinced that I was either going to miscarry, or something was going to be wrong with the baby, despite the fact that the 700 ultrasounds I had were perfect. I also had extreme anxiety about the looming birth because I was sure that a big fat heaping depressive episode was waiting for me when the big show was over. I was correct. And along with that, my fears for something happening to my baby in utero manifested themselves into fears of my baby dying from random acts now that he was living outside of the protection of my shitty womb. I was proactive this time though. I talked to my doctor and instead of telling her everything was just unicorns and rainbows, I was honest. She directed me to a therapist. Shit. Got. Raw. I learned some things about myself, was on some medication, but most importantly, I began the process of COPING instead of DEFLECTING. 

It is what it is

I have learned that I will never be 100% okay, and that is fine. I have accepted that I will have bad days and I will still find it hard to get out of bed sometimes or that I will simply run on auto-pilot sometimes but that is OKAY. I will not let that consume me. I will COPE. Because I would rather cope than be a zombie who doesn’t enjoy the laughter and mess of her children. I would rather cope than shut my husband out because the beast in my head has convinced me that he hates me. I would rather cope because I would rather live. So while life may not be unicorn farts, it’s still pretty fucking great to be here and I’m going to be present even if I haven’t brushed my hair or cleaned the house. It may not get better, but I’m here to deal with it.

Not Another Depression Story

I don’t know about you, but I have read a million and one stories about people coping with depression. I search out these articles and stories because we have common ground. I was diagnosed in 2009. I keep reading these stories because I am looking for something, and it’s an itch that very rarely gets scratched. The end of most of these stories is happy. These narrators have either been magically cured, or they find they don’t suffer from depression, just have very rare depressive episodes. Or they simply have post partum depression, which is not simple at all, but there is a light at the end of that shitty tunnel. While I can sympathize with these people, I don’t feel like I can completely relate, because mine didn’t go away. It’s still here, gnawing at me in the back of my head. So I wanted to write this in the hopes of reaching someone like me. Someone who has this annoying ass monkey on their back. Someone who needs to hear it from another stranger that’s in the shit, that while our serotonin deprived brains can make our lives miserable, we are still living them. Here’s my story.

The diagnosis 

Before November of 2009, I lived a normal existence. Sort of. I had a lot of difficulty. Like a lot. But the difference between then and now, is that when life or my past or whatever the hell it was, got me down, I never stayed down. I bounced up, brushed it off, and went about my business. I was happy, confident, social, and charismatic. I got engaged at the beginning of that year, found out I was pregnant in March, married in May, and had my little boy on November 18th. It was a big, happy year. During the course of this year, my husband swore in to join the Marine Corps, we were just awaiting the date that he would start boot camp, and were assured that wouldn’t happen until March of the following year. After our son was born, I started feeling the baby blues. It was around the holidays and I just brushed it off as me feeling nostalgic for my family. They were scattered all over the country and this was the first year I wouldn’t be spending it with them. We got through Christmas, and while I didn’t feel any better, I had hope. Then I got a call from my mom. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt the bottom drop out. She was eventually set to undergo a simple lumpectomy, but when they got in there, they found it had spread. She ultimately ended up getting a mastectomy and aggressive chemo and radiation treatments. Just before we found out  how bad it was, we got the call from the recruiter that my husband was leaving early. He was now scheduled to start basic training in January instead of March. If you’re not familiar with how training works in the Marine Corps, here is a run down. They go to boot camp for three months, at the end of which you see them graduate, they get leave for about a week, and then it’s off to combat training for a month. From there they immediately go to their MOS school. This is where they learn to do their specific designated job. For my husband, that schooling lasted three months. This time period was a little easier because we were able to see each other most weekends, as his school was four hours away. To say that there was a lot happening in my life was a massive understatement. I was trying to cope with all of this while taking care of our son and I just wasn’t handling it well. I went to the doctor and that is when they diagnosed me with full blown depression.

Editor’s note

As this post is already long, I’m going to be breaking it up into two separate entries. Stay tuned for more!

Editor’s note

I want everyone to know that while, yes, I do suffer from depression, I am not suffering. I have learned many ways to cope, and when that doesn’t work, I have learned to ride it out. The best thing I can do is feel my feelings. So while I thank everyone for their concerns, I am happy!