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As I reflect upon my journey through motherhood, I realiize that many of the issues I have had to deal with are the same issues I had problems with prior to becoming a mom – expectations.

I have often been told My mom has often  told me that my expectations of others is too high.  My boss has said the same.  It is a constant throughout my life – this notion of my expectations being too high.

When I first became pregnant with Henry, it felt wrong.  Alex and I had been trying (or rather, not preventing) for over a year and nothing had happened.  Then my dad died.  The same week he was buried, I conceived.  It just felt, well, as I said before, wrong.

I find myself often disappointed in others – family, friends, co-workers.

I am very hard on myself.  Having PPD just made it worse.

No one could do anything to help me.  There was no fix for my constant feeling of being let down.  My dad was gone.  Each member of my family was grieving in their own way – and none was even remotely similar to another.

Not only was I alone but I was alone and resentful.

I expected that my pregnancy would be normal.  It wasn’t.

I expected that I would return to work before the 12-week postpartum I was allowed.  I didn’t.

I expected that I would easily find balance between working in the office, losing myself in my work (as I had done before) and the obligation I felt as a mom (pumping for Henry while at work).

I expected that since my sister had gone through preeclampsia and a preemie, she would be more understanding/hold my hand/carry me through it all.

Every one of my expectations was unrealistic and unmet.

And I was so angry for so long because of that.

And an angry Alice, much less one dealing with all I was dealing with – well, let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.

I distinctly remember at one point after Henry’s birth taking a bath.  I started sobbing because I was just so angry at everything.  I raised my fist to God and blamed Him for everything.

I was done.

Soon after, I took a leave of absence from work.

I stopped functioning.

The weight of the world, no, the weight of a day, was so heavy.  The thought of it was unbearable.

I began seeing a therapist three times a week.

I was too tired to take Henry to daycare, so he stayed with me.

I felt guilty about everything.

And, somehow, I expected my life to be different.  I expected that even though my pregnancy, delivery and baby were not what I considered “normal”, that I could just deal with it.  That I would just suck it up, get on with my life and live.

At the age of 3, I started taking piano lessons.  I continued them throughout college, majoring in music.  But Henry hated me playing – it was too much stimulation.

I am learning to try to set realistic expectations.  I expect my husband to be honest and fair and gently and kind.  I expect the same of myself in return to him.

I expect that one day, I will figure out this hausfrau business – until then, I expect to get up daily, get dressed in non-stretchy pants (unless of course, I am giving myself a lazy day), brush my teeth, keep laundry going, take care of the dogs and the kiddoes and remember to feed us all as healthily as I can.

I expect that my faith, while being tested, will continue to remain and will, in fact, grow stronger.

I expect that I will continue to set unrealistic expectations but will learn to deal with them better than I have in the past.

Sofia’s up!  Got to go … I expect we’ll be going for a bike ride soon.

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I’ve started and stopped and erased and edited this quite a few times.

I’ve tried to be clever or witty or funny.  It just ain’t happening.

We are planning on moving mid-March.  (I am pretty sure the tickets are booked.)

Things are moving along here, as best they can.

My depression is kicking my ass today.  I spent a few hours this morning sobbing.  There’s lots going on, but nothing I really want to discuss openly here (only because I have made some incredibly stupid mistakes that made me feel good at the time but have impacted … oh hell … I spent money I shouldn’t have.  It is stressful.  And on top of everything else, it just was bad timing on my part.)

Sometimes I just feel stupid.  Like life stupid, not book-smart stupid (though throw too many big words at me and my eyes will glaze over).

Today was definitely one of those days.  It’s almost 8pm and my eyes still hurt from the crying I did this morning.  I haven’t cried like this since my dad died.

Ironically, the things that have me upset do not include our impending move.  Rather, it’s just the stupid mistakes I make again and again.  And let me tell you, I love the stuff I buy.  I buy great stuff.  I get great deals.

But as BJD pointed out, had I not spent that money, we would have more than enough in SAVINGS to have a vacation.  Perhaps not fancy-schmancy, but a vacation nonetheless.

Knowing that we are both pretty maxed out – I mean, PPD is (normally) well under control for me, but the long-term effects of it on both of us are starting to rear their ugly heads.  (Why can’t their heads be pretty?  or sexy?  or something that we would like to see?)

It’s hard knowing that while I know what I went through, I really have no clue how BJD has dealt with it all these years.

Surviving preeclampsia twice wasn’t easy for me – but I didn’t have to witness my spouse fighting a disease that could not only kill our child, but also my spouse.  I haven’t supported him in fighting postpartum depression or chronic hypertension.  Or all those other things that I have been going through.

I’ve been too busy being engrossed in it all.  Sitting in it.  Lathering it up and washing myself in depression and sadness and feeling guilty for feeling this way because I did survive – as did both of my children.

I know my blessings.  I am thankful.

But why do I think that surviving, having two living breathing children, means I can’t be depressed?

Sofia turns 2 at the end of this month.  She has been very clingy and crabby lately.  It’s probably a combination of her 2 year molars and her being a mini-me.

But I can’t help but think of those lonely days during her pregnancy when I was hospitalized, fearing her premature birth every day.  Every hour.

That fear weighs so damned heavily on my soul.  It brings me to my knees, asking God why can’t I just be thankful for what I have instead of focusing on what I have gone through to have what I have?

And then, I feel guilty (yet again) for the delayed gratification (aka shopping) I have not yet learned … but didn’t I?  I mean, haven’t I been through a hellish 4+ years, with my dad’s death … blah blah …

This pity party is stopping right now.

This is how I am feeling today.

Not one of my good days.

But thankfully, I have fuzzy warm socks, comfie stretchy house-pants and a wonderful supporting husband who doesn’t care if I keep a clean house or not (I don’t).

I am excited and nervous about Minsk.  I worry about how Henry will adapt – though I am confident he will adjust fine.  And so long as I am there, Sofia will be too.

Here are some pics of Henry finally finding some confidence in his bike-riding skills (he insists the training wheels stay on the bike because that’s what the picture on the box looked like)

 

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I have been attending German classes now for about 6 months.  They are semi-private which in theory, should have been very helpful.

But, I am a lazy student.

And BJD was travelling so much, it was difficult to do any of the homework.

To my advantage was that I speak quite well, with my fair share of grammatical mistakes.  But I get along with pretty much most people I speak with.  (In comparison, the other student is better at the written and grammar, but not so good at the spoken word.)

My teacher recommended I try reading in German. Since my postpartum depression began almost 5 years ago (wow, it really has been a long time), I have changed my reading habits.  I used to have quite an assortment of historical fiction or horror or real life stories of murder and well, quite gruesome reading.  But I balanced that out with the occasional fluff.  However, I have since gotten rid of any book that brought me down. (thanks amazon for letting me sell stuff!)

Finding a book that was natively written in German (not a translation) and that didn’t contain any of the drama that makes my heart race and my mind go non-stop wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  But I found a great series by Kerstin Geier – Die Mütter-Mafia (the mother mafia).

The first book in the series took me about 2 weeks to finish (had it been in English it would have taken 2 days tops).  But it really was cool to read something in German about life in Germany.  It is set in Cologne and is basically about a woman who gets pregnant while in college, marries the guy, leaves school, and spends her life as a Hausfrau, until one day he tells her he wants a divorce and offers her (and their 2 kids) his mother’s house.

A bit dramatic of course, but it slowly introduces other characters, including a midwife and her 2 sons, grumpy old neighbors that try to sue for every thing possible (could they have spent time in the states?) and another neighborly couple that is trying desperately to have a baby but can’t.

She addresses mothering, life as a hausfrau, life as a mom in Germany (which truly is different than life in the states – but that’ll be another post), divorce, getting screwed over, the “perfect” mommies, infertility and miscarriages.  But it is presented in a way that is foreign to me (not just the language, ha ha …)  It is presented in a way that is reflective of the German culture.

I made it through the first book and quickly search my lover (a.Ma.zOn) for more in the series.  I am almost done with the 2nd book after just a few days and am so proud of my ability to read through and understand.

Go me!

We still have no move date.  Pins and needles doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.  Nor does it begin to describe the difficulties BJD and I are dealing with, trying to adjust to his travels and being back home.

On top of it all, Giant Baby turns 2 at the end of this month.  She is cutting her 2 year molars and is quite miserable at times.  AND the terrible twos that we didn’t face with her brother – oh yeah, those are coming forth in triplicate.

Lucky us.

Something is bothering Bubba Joe.  And I don’t know what it is.  At first I thought it was the initial adjustment of his dad being around.  But BJD has been around for quite some time now.  Bubba got a bit better but the last 2 days has just had meltdown after meltdown.

And when he has one, the only thing you can do is, well, be me and not his dad, hold him and tell him it is okay to cry.

Yelling does not work (though in the moment it makes me feel better).  Neither does walking away because that only frustrates him more.

Asking him what is wrong in the middle of meltdown mode doesn’t work either – because you just can’t understand what he’s saying, especially if he mixes his languages when saying something (many words he uses I don’t have yet in my vocabulary).

Needless to say, I am stressed and worried.

But I am knitting, so I have an outlet.

And I blog, which helps even more.

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In case you didn’t realize it, I live in a small town called Dülmen.

This year, we are celebrating our 700th anniversary.

That’s like, a super duper long time, don’tcha think?

I had hoped to offer up this cool little town as a meeting place for the Annual Whiny Expat Meetup – but it looks like we will be in Minsk for most of the year.

I am not sure exactly when that will happen, but BJD and I anticipate a move in early March.  February is chock full (is it chock or chalk – I think chock, right?) of birthdays, with Giant Baby turning 2 on the 27th.

Speaking of her, I have to say I am so in love with her.  She has taken to sign language beautifully – and signs as often as she can, mixed with spoken words.  She enjoys singing and making music.  Her most recent pleasure came  from opening up the drawer with the pots and pans and pulling out two lids and banging them together.  (quite loudly I might add)

And she is in absolute love with her older brother – who has his moments of typical older sibling don’t wanna be around you-ness.  As a whole though, he is turning into such a wicked cool person, complete with a temper (thanks to me – hey I have to have some influence in his life cause that boy is a carbon copy of his dad).

Last week, Bubba Joe had a horrible case of asthmatic bronchitis. It flared up the night before BJD left for Minsk for the week.  I took little man to his ped who upped the dosages of salbuterol (I think that’s the german equivalent to alb*terol), followed up by his inhaler (with steroids) and if it got worse, to give him a steroid suppository.

He hates those.

He does okay with the breathing treatments – every 3 hours was about the right time for him to have his next dose.  But that night, with his dad gone and knowing how bad it was the night before (he barely slept because of his coughing), I made the decision to give him a suppository.

He hated it.

And me.

He started crying.  Poor kid.

I started crying.

Which led us to hugging and crying together.  Giant Baby had no clue what was going on, but kept signing mommy cry … cry, no cry.

I explained to Bubba that I knew it was uncomfortable but that the medicine was necessary for his lungs to function properly.  That it hurt me too to see him in pain and worse, to cough so much.

And it brings back all those emotions that I have been facing the past 4.5 years … before I would have felt like an absolute failure.  It was my body that was damaging him in utero, my body which failed to do the one thing that only a woman can (squat and give birth) – such a basic principal yet I failed.

I am not so good at accepting my failures.

But this time, I just dealt with it.  I handled it as it needed to be and none of it was overwhelming.  I cried because he was so angry that I had to give him his medicine “there”.  And he cried because he has a hard time figuring out the right words (much less the right language) to explain how he is feeling.

My depression is subsiding.

I  know it.

I can feel it.

I am still on meds – and will be for some time.  Especially if/when we move.  But I anticipate that by the end of 2012, I will be able to manage my life even better than I did last week.

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I wrote this on June 15, 2010.  I never posted it (at least I don’t think I did.  I am too lazy right now to go back and check).  But I personally can’t stand having things unfinished sitting around (see my other post today – what I ddn’t post there though is that stuff sitting around weighs on me.)  So I decided to publish.

 

Both kids have had chronic ear infections.  Bubba Joe had tubes placed when he was 6 months old but had to have them again.

Giant Baby has been on an antibiotic for over 6 months.

They can both thank me for crappy eustachian tubes.  I had chronic ear infections as a child too.

Both children went in today to have tubes placed and their adenoids removed.

This is not a post though about why to do this or why not.  Or why we scheduled both kids on the same day.  Or how it came about.

Nope.  This is instead a post of how horrible today was.

Giant Baby went first.  She was okay.  I stayed with her until the gas took affect and she slept.  Her eyes were so scared.  But I was brave and kept it together.  Bubba Joe was scared but I was able to sing him “Sofia’s Sunshine Song” (you are my sunshine) and calm him.

He pulled through everything with no problem.

She, on the other hand … came to and started bleeding from the nose.  They thought they had it stopped … then it gushed.  I have blood stains on my clothing.  They then took her for a second operation to clean everything up and I believe they cauterised the wounds.

After the second operation, she was much better.

But she smells.

It’s a smell I had forgotten but one I wish I never would have known.

It is the smell I associate with death and hospitals.

It is the smell my dad had while in the hospital before he died.

I don’t know how to describe it, other than once you smell it, you know it.

I don’t think I have cried so hard in such a long time, with absolute fear for my children.  I can with absolute certainty say that the fear of losing a parent is much less than the fear of losing a child.  My fears, thankfully, were put to rest when she pulled through.

But she’s been not quite herself yet … I will give her a bit more time until I really worry.

Today truly sucked.  And somehow I thought that writing it out and sharing it with you it might ease my heart, but sadly it has not.  It is just sitting there.  I look forward to tomorrow, in hopes that both children will feel better – and I will write more about Bubba Joe’s complications.  (Cause, you know, I can never do things the easy way so why should my kids)

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Focus

or lack there of.

I am having a hard time focusing on things.  Knitting for example – I have finished up some great projects but am just unable to complete stuff.  I now have an unmentionable amount of unfinished knitting … things just sitting around waiting for just the last few inches of my handiwork.  And I just don’t want to finish them.

I have started numerous other projects, only to run into the same problem.

I don’t want to finish.

And nope, doesn’t matter if I take on something smaller.

But I guess when I think about it, it might just have something to do with the current things going on right now in my life.

Bubba Joe recently underwent intensive testing through Dülmen’s early intervention.  He has been in speech therapy for about 2 months but one assessment suspected he might also need physical therapy.  His ped recommended contacting EI for their input.  Turns out we were on the right track from the beginning – speech therapy.  No more, no less.

He scored well with ability to concentrate and fine-motor skills.  But then again we are talking about the kid who started to learn how to play chess at 1.5 years (due of course to his Opa looking for someone willing to play him), builds with anything and everything he can find, and draws well, beautifully.  (He so did not get that from me.  His dad, though, is a pretty good drawer – dude, that sounds like he’s a drawer in a chest of drawers, but I mean draw-er.  You know what I mean.)

He did not score well in gross motor – such as catching a ball.  But we don’t play ball.  That just might have something to do with it.  And he scored low on the one area where he should tie shoelaces.  But those are both areas we can work on at home.  Woohoo.

The assessment brought out lots of memories of his birth and the first 2 years of his life.  In retrospect, they were f-ing hard.

As for the rest of us, Giant Baby is a true cuddle-bucket.  Which is adorable.  To a point.  She also has a temper (wonder where she got that from).  And she knows what she wants.  She has learned some ASL (american sign language) and is darned good at telling you what she wants or needs.

After 20 months, she is now weaned from breastfeeding.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel, seeing that I nursed Bubba Joe from birth until she was born – nearly 4.5 years of milk-making.  I guess it really is no wonder I feel so out of it.

Oh, and perhaps the biggest news?  We are looking at a temporary relocation to Minsk.

Where is that you might ask?  Well, it is where David, Phoebe’s true love, runs off to instead of marrying her for scientific research.  David.  Phoebe.  Friends.  Get it?

BJD has been travelling there for quite some time now.  We thought his travel would slow down but it seems his input is only increasing his need to be there.  It has become increasingly difficult on the kids (and us) with him being gone so much.  He leaves very early Monday morning, coming back late on Thursdays (and is getting ready to leave again tomorrow).  His travel is weekly.

We don’t have the offer from his firm yet, but anticipate it this week.  (Of course I have been saying that the past 2 weeks so we’ll see.)

Before sitting down and writing this out, I really was wondering if I was okay.  If I needed to adjust my ppd meds or what … but now I realize that there really are a lot of things going on right now, both emotionally and physically, that provide some groundwork for my feelings.

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With each and every project, I try to learn something new, either a new way to bind off or to learn to listen to my hands when they fall numb (that good ole beast called car pal tunnel has come back to visit).

And not every project that I start is finished.  Many don’t make it past the first few rows before I either change my mind about the pattern or just don’t “feel” the yarn and pattern are “fitting”.

Here are some of my recent finished objects:

and a picture of Giant Baby, during one of her first “grass” experiences.

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