Ke(y)to Happiness?

The other day, I made a comparison chart for 7 diets that I had considered trying or had actually tried in an effort to improve my MS. It ended up getting featured on Modern Day MS, which is pretty cool.



I am almost certain that the diet that I need to be on is the traditional ketogenic diet. It’s ostensibly the best diet for overcoming NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease). This graphic outlines 7 ways that being in ketosis can help you, and I need help with all seven things!  


Unfortunately, despite my logical brain knowing that this is a good idea, the most of me is absolutely dreading this shift. I will miss the convenience of restaurant food and delivery very much. I will miss comfort foods. I will miss the quiet calm of not having to justify my nutritional choices to others or to myself. (Because, let’s be real, the constant chatter and fretting of Anxiety will happen no matter what, and it’ll do its damnedest to make me question myself every bite along the way.)


I think one of the hardest things about changing my way of eating at the moment is the fact that I have a precocious three-year-old who survives primarily on Goldfish crackers, peanut butter Ritz Bits, chicken nuggets, French fries, and various fruits. Honestly, reading that, I feel Shame. (“Big S” shame. Toxic shit.) Of course, like anyone seriously considering this diet, I watched The Magic Pill on Netflix, and felt like a terrible parent.

My boy is 39 inches tall and nearly 40 lb. I don’t know that changing his diet is the right thing to do – but, I do know that I will absentmindedly snack on Chex Mix if I’m serving it to him. If I’m genuinely convinced by the science surrounding the ketogenic diet — about it being the optimal way for humans to eat — why would I continue to feed my child a diet that is likely to set him up for type 2 diabetes in the future?


My little ham.

Why am I so filled with anxiety over justifying these nutritional choices even to myself? Do I just like sugar that much? And, why is it so damn hard for me to just be part of normal society? Isn’t it enough that I’ve got a majillion chronic illnesses? Do I need more social isolation? Do I really have to make my life even more difficult? 

And will it just make life more difficult, or will it actually work?

If it works, it could make things so much better for us. I want to be able to imagine a future free from complications of NAFLD, hypertension, high cholesterol, and depression and anxiety. I’m honestly a little giddy over the thought of raising my seizure threshold. If I actually believe the science regarding how my physical health should improve, then it’s absolutely worth it…

Unfortunately, I have doubts. And it’s reasonable that I have doubts! Scientists sometimes lie for money. I did everything I was told by my doctors regarding diet for most of my life, which meant eating lots of low-fat, high complex carb food, which has, in part, led to the health that I am currently experiencing.

I feel so hopeless and depressed.  Living in a post-fact society, I have no idea who is trustworthy.  I want to feel empowered and excited. I want to inspire you to come of a journey of health and rebirth with me, knowing that the outcome will be stellar and worth the emotional investment.

The truth, however, is that I’m having a really hard time even being motivated right now, and so I’m looking for as many credible studies as I can find. Like these… and these… and this. It’s easy to find pieces challenging it.

My therapist isn’t much help with my depression these days. She says I have all the tools in my tool box.  It’s all up to me.  Well, either it’s all up to me to take the best possible actions or it’s time to find a new therapist, which may also be one of those positive actions, depending on whether or not I’m able to continue to hold myself together. To be totally honest, the idea that I could have “beaten” my mental illnesses sort of cracks me up when I legit had to do EMDR butterfly hugs just this morning.  

Still, I know meditation and my actions are only part of the equation.  Major depression is a biological disease affected by MS and caused by brain inflammation. Oh, and btw, “[p]eople with depression who [experience] suicidal thoughts … exhibit significantly higher levels of TSPO, … indicating inflammation of the brain.” [source] I’ve only visited that thought pattern a few billion times. 

But, guys — guess what is decreased when you’re on a ketogenic diet? Brain inflammation. [source]

So, I will start this diet on Memorial Day whether I feel like it or not.

I am ready to feel better. I want to be happier and lighter-hearted and thinner and to live longer for my boy. I’m just not looking forward to the hard part.

I’m glad to be reading Barbara Applebaum’s book Be Your Own Superhero. It’s really helping me with motivation right now.

Also in a positive direction, I have logged out of Facebook in Chrome on my telephone, and I will not log back in. So, now I not only do not have the app, but I have to actively log in on Chrome or open up my laptop if I want to immerse myself in other people’s opinions, problems, and other random bullshit.

I decided I’m tired of putting myself in harm’s way, and with the knowledge that real life is triggering my PTSD on its own, (Thanks, Dominionists!) I don’t need to poke the bear. I want to use my time better.

So, I’m using that time to craft a month-long meal plan with recipes. I’ll have a plan for ~1400 calories/day for me and one for whatever Adam’s ideal calorie count happens to be. I’m guessing ~1800.

Let me know if you want to do it with us. 

All Hail Second Nap!

Good Lord, have I been having a hard time getting to write recently!  So much has happened since my last entry. Fortunately, the little guy is down for his second nap, so allons y!

Happy Birthday, Hugabug!

13122875_10209419410351888_2676262525585641334_oA couple of weeks ago, my little guy turned 1. We celebrated on his actual birthday with the Majka family, and then the Shapiros came into town the next morning and stayed the weekend to celebrate Henry’s 1st and my Dad’s 59th birthday, too.

Our family gets SLAMMED at the end of April. Henry was born on the 29th, Uncle Stuart (my mom’s brother) was born on the 30th, and Aunt Caren (mom’s sister) and my dad were born May 1st.  So, we have 4 birthdays in 3 days. No big deal.


I can’t love this little goober or his birthday tuxedo more.

Not for nothing, I think that we have an interesting birthday pattern happening. I grew up with my aunt and my dad having the same birthday (but different years). Henry gets to grow up with his mom and his Uncle Nick having the same birthday, all the way down to the year.  If he ends up marrying someone that shares a birthday with one of his future siblings, I will be consulting an astrology expert to find out the real meaning of it all. *lol*

The stats.  At 1 year, Henry was 24 pounds and 30 inches tall. He took his shots like a champ.

Obviously, being the daughter and granddaughter of doctors, I’m a fan of vaccinations — but I’m so glad we’re able to protect him against chicken pox. I had it so badly that I still remember how it felt, even though I was really, really young when it happened. (It was in my ears, people, and between my toes, and pretty much, well, everywhere.) I have a special place in my heart for Caladryl.

He is cruising. Adam and I are sure he will walk any day now. He’s just not doing it yet, for whatever reason. He can hold on to stuff and move quickly and easily. He climbs up and down from the couch. He is eating solids, like cereal puffs and baby cheesy poofs, and he’s learned how to drink the purees from the pouch instead of having me spoon-feed him. He still isn’t comfortable with using the spoon himself, but that will come with time.


Smash cake tastes good!

And what else? His favorite TV shows right now are Sesame Street, Creative Galaxy, and Tumble Leaf — though he still brightens up when I put on Daniel Tiger, and he’s shown some interest in Peep and the Big Wide World.

He’s babbling like crazy. I expect he will be speaking in sentences within the next few months.  He has several words – Mama, Dada, Nah-Nah (Grandma), Buuuh (book), Bahbah (bottle), and Lahyew (love you) are the most common we hear.

He also has started fighting sleep. So, getting the kiddo to go down for naps has been an exercise in patience and mindfulness. Right now, for example, I can tell he’s awake. He’s smacking his headboard and turning on and off his mobile, but he’s not crying, so I’m letting him be. He’s got a couple of stuffies in his crib, so I’m sure he’s enjoying talking to them.

Health Crap

Speaking of exercises in patience and mindfulness… let’s talk about my health for a second.

Last time I wrote, I had to get an MRI of my liver. Well, I did that. And the gastroenterologist told me she was worried, based on the images, that I might have a tumor.  I did blood work for that, and thankfully, I don’t have one.  She does, however, want me to get another MRI in 3 months. I’m not really sure why, but I’ll be asking when I see her at the end of this month. I’m also not sure if I have a positive diagnosis of NAFLD, but I’m trying to lose weight anyway.

I also finally saw an endocrinologist.  Turns out that I’m terribly chromium deficient, which is causing me to become insulin resistant. My cortisol is also totally out of whack, and the combination of those 2 things means that losing weight isn’t something that my body will agree to. It believes, very firmly, that I need to hold on to all my fat… you know, because winter’s coming.

So, I’m making some big lifestyle changes to change my body’s mind. I’m on a bunch of new pharmaceutical-grade supplements that are helping with energy (I have to take, like, this whole handful of them 3 times a day), and I’ve started a new diet (which is basically the same as The Primal Blueprint, but allows legumes) where I have to eat every 3 hours (or else I get dizzy). I also have to drink about 100 oz of water a day.

As for other hormones: I’m starting estriol in a cream form in a few days as a treatment for my MS (arguably better than any of the currently-available DMDs) and bio-identical progesterone pills to help control catamenial seizure activity instead of going back on Seasonale.

The goal is to get down to what’s considered “healthy” BMI before I get pregnant with baby #2. I am disciplined enough to do the diet and exercise, but I have to hope that my body will play along nicely enough to allow me to get the exercise done. It will be a slow road, since I can’t get my heart rate up too much or I’ll cause seizures.

Fortunately, I have really good support from my heath care providers and my family, and a membership to a 24 hr gym with a cold lap pool. It could be a heck of a lot worse.

Aaaand Henry’s starting to sound not so happy, so this has to be it for now. Hope you’re all doing well. ♥


Do It Anyway.

My drooly dragon on Halloween.

My drooly dragon on Halloween.

Hard to believe it, but Henry’s 6 months old now.  Right now, I’m lucky enough to have a moment to write because he’s taking his morning nap.

Today, I was published on another blog — Modern Day MS. I wrote a piece about how to improve your sex life, since the great majority of folks with MS have to deal with sexual dysfunction at some point.

Surprisingly, the hardest thing about writing that guest post was keeping my word count down!  There was so much more I could have written about because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of great information out there about having good sex.

One thing that surprised me was how much it helped to have a specific audience to write to, though. I think one of my downfalls here on In It For The Parking is that I have made this much more of a personal journal and much less of an MS-centric blog.  Ah well. If I cared about making money from my blog it might matter, but I don’t. It’s not why I write here.

So About That Title…

You may have noticed that the title of today’s blog entry is, “Do it Anyway.” It’s the title of one of my favorite Ben Folds songs, and has become a huge part of my current way of being.

Being a mom is tough. It’s especially tough when you have seizures and sometimes don’t have an aura. It can be really scary.

For years — way too many years — I spent my days on the couch and didn’t do a whole lot because I was afraid of hurting myself. I didn’t cook. I didn’t exercise, for fear of falling off a machine or embarrassing myself. I didn’t leave the house without someone else.  It’s only in the last 2 years that my seizures subsided enough for me to be brave enough to go out in public alone.

And now, as a mom, sitting on the couch and hiding from life really isn’t an option. So, I take the kiddo on walks to and from the store. I carry him up and down stairs. I have begun cooking again, and today, I think I might even be brazen enough to try to shower while my husband’s at work. (It smells like a good idea.)

There were a lot of people who asked me why I wanted to have children, and whether or not it was safe. They suggested that it wasn’t a good idea because they were worried about how I would take care of the kids and deal with my condition.  My response to them was always that I wasn’t going to let MS steal motherhood away from me.  So, even with all the fear, we did it anyway.

Why? Because one of the biggest, most important things I’ve learned is that even if you’re afraid, you need to do things anyway.  Sometimes, the more afraid you are of something, the more important it is that you do it.  That’s why bravery is a virtue.

Do I seize when I get overheated? Yeah, every time.  But the dishes? Those need to get done anyway. And this body? It doesn’t like carrying this much extra weight, so exercise is going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to cause seizures. I’m learning how to do things despite them.  For instance, it’s safer for me to swim (because it keeps your body cool) with Adam than it is for me to try to run on a treadmill. It’s safer for me to soak dishes in the sink and rinse in tepid water before putting them in the dishwasher than it is to use hot, soapy water. And it’s safer for me to keep the house at a crisp 68 degrees and only carry Henry for a few minutes at a time than it is for me to be afraid to pick him up.

For a long time, I thought that Kayla Montgomery was insane.  I mean, who wants to run races and trigger pseudoexacerbations over and over again, falling into her coach’s arms at the end of each race, just so she can keep running?  It sounded insane to me. But now, for some reason, I get it. She knows that someday, she’s not going to be able to feel her legs. She’s making the most of every moment she has control of them, and refuses to let this disease take any more from her than it absolutely has to.  And that takes a lot of guts.

I’m more than a little ashamed to think about how much time I wasted because of fear.  Sure, it was legitimate fear, but it was also depression. It wasn’t just that I wouldn’t push myself, I couldn’t. After failing the bar exam twice, I didn’t see the point of trying anything anymore. I didn’t want to find my physical boundaries, because I didn’t want to get hurt.

But, that’s pretty much what life is — getting hurt and getting over it and learning new ways to be… over and over again.

I’m tired of the internet being my only social outlet (aside from seeing my in-laws). I’m tired of defining myself by this disease. I’m tired of wallowing in how tired and/or afraid of seizures I am to the point that I allow myself to not be ambitious. It’s a waste. Not only of my potential but of the time I have here to enjoy life.

So, I’m fucking tired and scared. That’s great. It means I’m human. Big deal. Do it anyway; whatever “it” is. Acknowledge the fear and move forward thoughtfully.

Today, “it” is writing this blog entry and doing whatever I can to get up and be active. I can’t let my son learn that being an adult is comprised of sitting on your butt staring at a screen all day long every day. I won’t. Unfortunately, we can’t go to the gym today because the little guy is sick, and they’ve got rules against bringing sick kids to the gym.  So, I think I’m gonna walk to the store and get stuff for dinner and return a toy that I wish I hadn’t bought. (Toys with lights and sound aren’t always the best idea. Gotta find the right ones.)  Don’t worry, I always wear my medical alert bracelet and have an ICE app on my phone in case I seize in public.

If, at some point today, I’m able to vacuum the living room, make the MRI appointment I keep postponing because I’d rather not know how my MS has progressed without DMDs, and find a good dentist in the area, I’m giving myself all kinds of bonus points. Mostly because I don’t want to do any of that, but it all needs to be done.

So, I’m going to do it anyway.


Brought to you by the Number 5!


This guy.

This guy right here is why I haven’t written much in a while. It’s not for lack of desire or lack of subject matter — just that he comes first, and babies need snuggles like fish need water.

Kiddo is 5 months old. 5 months! I can’t even believe it. Time is on some kind of super-speed cycle right now. Days are whizzing past me faster than I can catch em.

We’ve been in our new home for almost 2 months (though we still have a ton of boxes to unpack), and on October 3rd, Adam and I celebrated our 5th anniversary. Since it was our “wood” anniversary, I made a custom Jenga game for us to play. Adam has promised me a tree to plant in our front yard, and I’m looking forward to picking it out this weekend.

Henry’s growing really well. He’s sitting up, with some support. He gets chatty here and there, and is starting to make consonant sounds. He’s getting really good at grabbing things – whether it’s a toy or a burp cloth or my hair.

count 5He’s chilling out in his crib right now, despite it being just after his afternoon nap because he was having fun with his rattle, wubbanub, and mobile. I can’t imagine why I’d move him when he’s this quiet and content. I know the “I’m hungry/bored/wet” cries are mere moments away, so I’m taking advantage of this quiet time while I can. It’s a happy respite from playing on the floor or watching Sesame Street, which the kid absolutely loves.

Also, before anyone feels the need to tell me: I’m well aware that Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger are both on Netflix.  I just like Sesame Street better, and I’ve been trying to keep our TV watching down to a couple of hours a day.  I use our TV as a jukebox too, so there are times when I’m concerned about how much screen time the little guy’s getting.  Then again, like Mindy said… “I was literally raised on TV, and I turned out perfect,” so there.

It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.

I’m happy to report that it is a gorgeous day.  Currently, there is not a cloud in sight from our front window, and we’ve had it open, enjoying the breeze all day so far. My plan is to change the little guy’s diaper, feed him a bottle, and then take him out for a walk in a few minutes. Maybe we’ll go to the store and get some things we need.

lake lorinSpeaking of walks — yesterday, we discovered that there’s a small lake less than a mile from our house (apparently named Lake Lorin) where you can fish for large mouth bass (catch & release).  It’s really pretty over there, and I’m excited that Adam will be able to teach me and Henry how to fish so close to home.

But for now, Adam’s at work, and I’ve got a diaper to change. Hope you’re well! ❤

Almost 20 weeks!

10997771_10153566954324522_6267979507934363414_nHey There, My Big Boy!

Hard to believe, but Wednesday of this coming week will mark 20 weeks that Henry has been in the world, and he’s already wearing clothes for 6 month olds. My little peanut is now more than 16 pounds and 27 inches long!  I’m thinking it might be time to bust out the jumparoo for him. 🙂

This kid is all kinds of awesome.  Sure, I spend all day, every day with him, so I’m biased — but I used to babysit a lot.  This little guy only cries when there’s something wrong. He’s inquisitive and gentle (except when he’s pulling my hair), and he loves music and books. He snuggles like a champ, he’s decided that diaper changes are actually an opportunity for
jiu jitsu training, and he has the best laugh on the face of the planet.

Right now, his daddy is out of town, doing some training for work, and my mom is coming in town to be with us.

It Takes A Village.

I have to say, I had no idea, when I got pregnant, what I was in for or how much help I was going to need.  I thought, based on those years of babysitting, that I had this mommy gig handled no problem. Man, was I wrong! I hadn’t even thought about what life would be like when I got sick. And I’ve been sick for 3 weeks now with acute sinusitis.

The first nurse practitioner who diagnosed me only gave me 5 days of antibiotics… so I got a little better, and then relapsed hard.  The second nurse practitioner (who I saw about a week later) was completely worthless and referred me to my primary care physician. When I arrived for my appointment with her, to my surprise (and dismay), I was examined by a STUDENT nurse practitioner!  Then the practice’s regular nurse finished up the visit, decided I still have sinusitis and put me on a 10 day regimen of antibiotics.

p17llh52kd1euorcm9ghmg6h16_L_655x435I’m not exaggerating when I say that only 4 hours after the first dose of antibiotic, I started feeling better.  This morning is actually the first time I’ve had energy without drinking a Monster Rehab in almost a month. (This stuff is stronger than 5 Hr Energy, believe it or not!)

I’m not sure why it’s been so difficult to see an actual doctor this month, but when I tried to establish care in my new hometown, I was informed that the doctor was booked up until October.   Yeah, like I’m gonna wait 3 weeks for something like this… I can only guess that this virus/infection has hit an awful lot of people.

Anyway — as many of you know, fevers cause pseudo exacerbations of MS.  This means that over the last 3 weeks, accompanying the low-grade fever that came with this infection, I’ve had a lot more seizure activity than I normally would.  There was one day where I kept seizing over and over again. I became very worried for my son’s safety and my own, and called Adam, who promptly called Laura (my sister-in-law). She came over and watched us for a couple of hours.

I was, and am, so profoundly grateful that we have family members who are willing to help us in times like that. I’m also glad that we now live only 20 minutes away from them. When we were living in Chicago proper, it took between 45 and 90 minutes just to see them, depending on traffic. So, I don’t remotely take their help for granted  — or that of my mom’s. She’s actually driving 8 hours from Pennsylvania right now to spend the week with us while Adam is handling his job requirements.

12002085_10153575527509522_4895338687839097525_nI’m especially grateful that Mom will be staying with us since I’m a little worried about Henry.  Adam took him to the doctor earlier this week because he’s got similar symptoms to mine. (No one in the Majka family has escaped this cold — not Busia, not Dottie, not even Uncle Jeremy.)  Anyway, Henry’s temperature has been good, but today, he’s been tugging at his left ear.  My right ear was clogged for 2 weeks straight.  It was miserable, and only got better 2 days ago.  Unfortunately, Hugabug’s too young for decongestant, and the doctor doesn’t want to give him antibiotics unless he ends up with a fever, which is understandable.

So, right now, Little Dude is going back and forth between fussy and asleep.  The only bright side I can think of is that I’m getting pretty skilled with the disgusting-in-concept, but incredibly effective NoseFrida snot sucker. Fortunately, his goop is not green like mine has been.


I’m also grateful that Mom is coming to town because, with all this illness, we’re still not fully unpacked. I’m really looking forward to having her assistance with organization, since this house is sorely lacking in innate storage space.  I have a strong feeling we’re going to be buying some furniture.

I also am happy that it’s almost Monday, which is when the plumber will be here to fix our leaky kitchen sink (which he completely rebuilt less than 2 weeks ago, so really, WTF?) and the HVAC guy will be repairing our return duct (which is somehow not attached…) so we can run the furnace.

Temperatures here in the greater Chicagoland area dipped into the low 50s last night. When I woke up this morning, it was 62 degrees in this house, thanks to the combination of not having a working furnace and having windows with broken seals. At least now, it’s warmed up to 70 in here.  We gotta get this shit fixed ASAP. We have to be ready for snow.

Other than that, not lots is going on with me.  I want to make some friends in the area, and am sort of at a loss for how to do so. There doesn’t seem to be an active Orland Hills/Orland Park/Tinley Park mommy group on Facebook or like there is in Chicago proper.  My inner entrepreneur says, “Just start the group, and they will come!”  but the most of me says, “UGH. MAKE ME SOUP AND TAKE A NAP ALREADY.”

I think I should probably listen.

I Am Mommy, Hear Me Roar.

I know it's a book for kids, but I swear to God, this is for new parents as well.

I know it’s a book for kids, but I swear to God, this is for new parents as well.

How I know I’ve fully transitioned to being a mommy: just now, after trying for several hours to make myself  sandwich and finally succeeding, I gave Henry a bottle and held him until he fell asleep while the delicious toasted corned beef sandwich got completely cold… and I still feel like I won because I ate something.

I honestly can’t believe that he’s eating full 4-ounce bottles now. Granted, they’re not at every meal, but at most! He’s 7 weeks old as of today, and I’m already thinking that I may need to buy some of the big bottles.  Crazy.

Time is blowing my mind with its speed. Days are going by in a blink… and the last several weeks has been a total blur.

These days, the little one is sleeping a solid 5 hours at night, which is incredibly helpful, but it took some time getting there. I do wonder, from time to time, when the next time I’m going to wake up feeling fully rested is… or if it will ever happen again. Fortunately, he’s napping now, so I have a chance to write. (FWIW, I did consider napping as well… but the logistics are all wrong for that right now. Too many balls are in the air.)

In a move that ended up being much less frightening or difficult than my mind had made it out to be, we’ve fully transitioned from disposable diapers to using cloth. We still use disposables when we leave him with family or when my hands are just too dumb to work snaps (read: in the wee hours of the morning). Still, whenever Henry poops in a rare disposable, and I don’t have to dunk-and-swish, I feel a surprising amount of joy. It’s like a mini-lottery win.

And yes, I am aware that I could just use disposables full-time and never have to clean poop off of a diaper, but, let’s be real here: I am frugal. Sure, cloth diapering is good for the environment and all, but have you seen how expensive disposable diapers are?  They’re, like, $0.25 each, and this kid goes through 10-12 a day.  Ok, so $3 a day doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but when you realize that 1 year is 365 days, and that means spending more than $1K in year 1 alone, it makes more sense. Plus, these diapers will fit him until he’s ready to potty train, and they’re also unisex, so regardless of which gender his sibling ends up being, we’re already set. We’re using them til we cain’t use em no more!! But, really, I’m just not a big fan of dunking my hand in the toilet. I’d rather use a utility sink. I’m looking very forward to when we have our own place, and I can install our diaper sprayer.

Speaking of… we actually found a house that’s reasonably priced, in a good, safe neighborhood, with good schools, low taxes, and the walkability that I need.  It’s a 3 bed/2 bath tri-level that’s right across the street from a park, and it’s got a back yard that ought to make Brisco pretty happy.

Admittedly, I’m worried about the stairs, but I was also worried about stairs when we were living in Romeoville with Nick, and there were way more stairs there, and I had tons more seizures back then — so, I should be fine.  Besides, I just had a relapse with a ton of seizures about 3 weeks after the c-section. I should be good to go for at least the next 6 months, right? 😉

thepriceisrightWe’re currently in negotiations to purchase it… and today’s negotiations are hilarious to me because the seller’s agent totally typoed on their counter-offer. Don’t get me wrong, I want to accept what they’ve sent, but I seriously doubt they actually intend to sell us the property for $16,600. There’s very clearly a number missing there. This situation makes me think of the Price Is Right. Which digit did they omit? What number did they mean?  If I guess correctly, do I win the house? 🙂

Anyway, this is our 9th attempt at purchasing a home in the last year or so — so please keep a good thought for us.

Little one’s starting to stir, so I’m gonna wrap this up. Time to put clean diaper inserts in the dryer, hang the shells, and get started on the dishes. The fun and glamour of being a SAHM never stops!

As a little bonus, here’s the song that’s been my jam for the last several days. If I’m ever able to play this on guitar, I will have exceeded my goals.

Sending a Letter Through Time

Henry says, "What are you lookin at?"

Henry says, “What are you lookin at?”

It’s been a good day.  Challenging, but good.

It’s a Tuesday, which means that Adam’s at work, and this is only the second day that I’ve had to take care of Henry and myself without any help.

The morning started out rough.  Yesterday, we ran out of disposable diapers, so we started using cloth diapers from the stash that I’d put together before Henry’s birth. Fortunately, he’s now over 8 pounds, so they fit him. (If cloth diapers had the yellow-turns-blue-so-you-know-he-peed technology, that would rock my world.  Scientists, get on that, won’t you?)

Anyway – the change from velcro-like closures on the disposables to the snaps on a reuseable Best Bottom shell got the better of me this morning in a suuuuper annoying kind of way.  You know that scene in all the baby movies where one of the parents gets peed on, and the baby pees on everything around it too, in an impressive and comedic fashion where you think to yourself, “Wow, kid got a lot of height with that whiz!”  Well, that was how I started my day — but it’s not where I am now.

Somehow, today, I managed to keep the kid fed and mostly clean (He needs a bath, thanks to spit-up, but we’re waiting for Daddy for that one!), to eat breakfast and lunch (Ok, so breakfast was just a Fiber One Protein Bar and a few swigs of RC Cola, but it’s better than nothing!), pump 3.5 oz of breast milk, do 2 loads of laundry, and take the kiddo with me to the grocery store and pharmacy down the street.

I know to a regular SAHM, this is probably not such a big deal — but I’m not a regular SAHM. Today’s the first day that I’ve managed to find time to put clothes on instead of pajamas, and is the first day in 3 weeks that I haven’t had any seizures at all.  Even on a good day, prior to giving birth, I would have been proud of myself for this level of activity. Adding in diapers, bottles, and pumping for breast milk, and I feel like I need some sort of gold star on a chart somewhere… which I guess is what this blog entry really is. I’m proud of myself, my kid is napping, and I get the chance to tell the world how far I’ve come.

If I could send letters back in time, I’d write this today.

Dear early 2011 Rae (the one having so many seizures per day that she has to use a chair to shower, isn’t allowed to cook, is bankrupt and suicidal),

You know how you are worried that you have no good reason to live, and that you are nothing but a burden to your family and society? Well, in 4 years, you’re the woman walking to and from the local (non-chain) grocery store and Walgreens with a 6 week old baby that strangers can’t stop cooing over, to shop for fixings for dinner and baby supplies…and you haven’t had a single seizure today.

Thanks for not killing me! There is more to look forward to than you can allow yourself to imagine.

-2015 Rae

I doubt she’d believe it was real. I’m a cynic — always have been — and depression/suicide is a crafty demon that doesn’t let anything positive in… but if I could show up in a TARDIS and give her a pep talk, I sure as shit would do it.  I hope that sometime in the future, if I need a pep talk, I remember to look back here and see how far I’ve come, and remember that things are never really as bad as they seem.

Look what I had to look forward to!

Look what I had to look forward to!

That being said, it would be totally bitchin’ if 2019 Rae could send me a letter or show up and let me know that we’re gonna make it through this infant stage without me losing my mind or ending up in the hospital because of sleep deprivation and stress. *looks around, expectantly* Well, I guess that’s not happening, so I’m gonna have to just keep doing my best every day, and remember to do my future self as many favors as possible. 🙂

Speaking of — that means getting off my butt, putting a freshly-laundered mattress pad & sheet back on the pack n play, washing all the bottles that have collected around the apartment, putting up another load of laundry, and straightening up a little bit. Heck, I might even go for extra credit and spritz on a little bit of pretty stink.  Adam’s on his way home!

All the things!!!

I have started this entry about a million times… and I’ve decided that the only way to actually get anything written right now is to either do it piecemeal and take several days to write it, or to let Adam know what I’m up to and ask him to watch the kiddo while I post.

Rae and Henry

It’s lunchtime for everyone!

It’s hard to believe it, but in 4 days, Henry will be 1 month old, and on Monday of next week Adam will be back at work and my parents will be back in PA.  I will miss them badly.

For the first 2 weeks of Henry’s life, every day felt long. For the last week and a half, the days have zipped by, leaving me with a sort of temporal whiplash that has me asking, “Where the hell did the time go?”

Clearly, the time has gone to breastfeeding, pumping (so much pumping), doctor’s appointments, and Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/Project Free TV.  It sure as shit hasn’t gone to sleep.

Over the last week or so, I’ve had a bunch of time-travel seizures.  It makes sense – huge hormone changes and sleep deprivation cause seizures.  Adam has been doing his best to wake up around the time he usually wakes up for work (around 5 or 6 a.m.) and to let me sleep for at least 3 hours uninterrupted in the morning. It’s been very helpful for the last couple of days.  I actually had a seizure-free day yesterday!

Adventures in Breastfeeding

Before I gave birth, I had this starry-eyed vision of exclusively breastfeeding my son. I had read all the articles and drank the “Breast is BEST!” Kool-Aid.  But, like most things involving my body, breastfeeding turned out to be more complicated than I expected. Not only did I have no idea how to actually do it, when they thrust a squirmy little dude at me, but I also ended up having very low milk production, which is surprisingly common for women who endure a c-section.

At his 1-week checkup, Henry was jaundiced and had lost an unacceptable amount of weight. We absolutely had to start supplementing his diet with formula.  I was crushed. Somehow, irrationally, I reasoned that the need to supplement was an indictment against my sufficiency as a woman, rather than simply a food need for my child.  If I wasn’t able to supply it from my body, I was a failure as a mother. There was a lot of crying. A lot. And it was totally pointless.

We took Henry to get lab work done at least 3 times over the next 2 weeks and started feeding him both from my breasts and from the bottle… and he started getting healthier and gaining weight.

Does a bad mother do whatever’s necessary to give her child good health? Nope. A bad mother puts her ego first. Point #1 in the “Rae’s a good mommy” column. (Having ammo like this is super necessary for fighting the irrational thoughts that cause PPD.)

Over the next few weeks, I read a lot of information on breastfeeding online and saw an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who weighed Henry before and after breastfeeding and determined that he was getting a little more than half an ounce when he fed from both breasts. (That’s not nearly enough.)  Unfortunately, her only suggestions to me were to pump more often (which has been helpful) and to take a disgusting supplement which I ended up being allergic to.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that is actually helpful when trying to increase your supply of breast milk is to pump or have your kid nursing damn near all day long, every day. If you go more than 2 hours without pumping or nursing, you’re not going to increase your output.  I haven’t seen any real value in supplements yet, though I know some women have a lot of luck with them.

But over the last few weeks, there have been things that have been helpful. Here are the things that have been helping to make life tolerable – or, dare I say it, even good.

Things Adam and I (As New Parents) Love

For a momma who has had a c-section, it really is the best.

For a momma who has had a c-section, it really is the best.

1.) My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

I had no idea when I registered for this pillow just how often I would be using it, or how grateful I would be to have gone for this pillow and not for the Boppy.  The pillow actually works like a belt around you, so you can move around with it on, and pick up and put down your little one.  Also, it helps you to lean back when feeding and not put a ton of pressure on your lower belly, which is going to be suuuper sore if you’re going through c-section recovery, like I have been.

I still haven’t used the pocket to hold a drink, but to be fair, I’m still working hard on positioning the kid correctly during breastfeeding.  I received it as a gift from a long-time friend (Liz), and I think of her multiple times a day because of it.  If you’re thinking of getting someone a baby shower gift that is incredibly useful, this is a great one.

2.) Baby Daybook

This free Android app is awesome. The pediatrician is gonna ask you all kindsa questions. Using this tracker will give you the info you need to answer accurately.

It lets you track breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, diaper changes, sleep time, and so much more.  It tells you how long it’s been since the last time you did any of these activities, so you can anticipate your kid’s next diaper change or hunger pang. It shows you, in no uncertain terms, how long it’s been since the last time you nursed or pumped and how much milk you produced. It counts the number of wet diapers versus poopy diapers. And you can sync it to multiple phones through Dropbox.

pnp3.) Graco Pack N Play Playard w/ Reversible Napper and Changer

A gift given to us by my brother Daniel, we use this playard almost all day, every day. When he was tiny (around 5-6 pounds), Henry slept most of the day away in the napper. Now that he’s starting to grow out of newborn clothes (Already! After only 3 weeks!) the bassinet feature is doing double duty – both a good, portable crib and an easy spot to use as a changing table (obviously with a changing pad liner under him).

I will be honest, though – we never used the convertible napper/changer as a changing table. It was just too difficult to get the thing to spin in the first place, and it was small to boot.  If you’re thinking of getting one of these without a napper/changer and save $15, you’re probably going to be just as happy with it.

Every morning, Adam wheels the Pack N Play into the living room, next to the couch, and Henry chills out there when he’s not being fed or held or played with.  Every night, Adam wheels it back into the bedroom, and the little guy sleeps in it, at the foot of our bed. We’re never more than a few steps away. It’s awesomely convenient, and I couldn’t imagine trying to care for this kid with only a crib in the nursery.

And so much more…

Terry cloth footie pajamas are awesome!

Terry cloth footie pajamas are awesome!

Honestly, there are other things we’re in love with right now too – spill-proof cups for adults (Thanks, Kerry!), the Boba wrap (which could only be more perfect if it didn’t make me so damn hot after a while), the little yellow-turns-blue wetness indicator lines on today’s disposable diapers (which I will miss when Henry’s big enough to use the stash of cloth diapers I’ve put together),, parents and friends who understand when we need help and when we need space, cell phone alarms that help me remember to take pills at the right time (which is so necessary! My life is a complicated game of pills.), pacifiers that come with their own sterilizer boxes (Thanks, Aunt Debbi!), and one-piece footie pajamas (because socks never stay on) with zippers (not snaps that are mini-IQ tests!).

…and with that, it’s time for me to pump again. I can’t believe Adam just let me blog for 3 hours.  My husband is the best.