Tuesday, March 29, 2011

People be Having Babies!

pic above: me and Gramm, 7.12.05

During the past few months, several of my friends have been blessed by the joys of parenthood. Many are pregnant for the first time, and many are enjoying the roller coaster ride of a babe's first year of life. All of these recent happenings have brought back many memories of Gramm's first months of life. Now that I am nearly six years away from that time, I feel like I can write with clarity about what really went on at our little casa.

My man said that from the first (induced) contraction I became a different person. I remember snapping at him as he told me to breathe. I was breathing, or so I thought. I was actually concentrating on not vomiting during contractions that were 60 seconds apart. Did I mention that we'd been married about 18 months at this point? I ended up having a C-section and delivering a screaming, healthy boy several hours later.

We got home and our new life began. I didn't understand why my tummy still looked so pregnant. I mean, I'd had the baby, right? I was also really tired. I was cranky. I had nightmares about someone physically harming my newborn son. There was drama with my extended family that caused me immense amounts of stress. I vividly remember waking up to feed Gramm around 4 a.m. when he was just weeks old and sobbing uncontrollably. I mean, sobbing so hard that I couldn't breathe. Justin did his best to comfort me and I think he prayed with me. I didn't have too many more crying spells, but I was anxious and angry often.

I remember thinking that I needed an assistant. My baby was a lot of work. I had to nurse him, which hurt, change him, which required standing up and even that was painful for about 2 weeks, and I still needed to be nice to my husband. Seriously? I couldn't fathom the thought of having another baby and for awhile, I really thought Gramm would be an only child.

When Gramm was around 5 weeks old, he began crying a lot. I mean a lot. This crazy crying went on for about 2 months. I was embarrassed by the fact that I didn't birth a laid back baby. He had horrible reflux and just wanted to be held. He never really complied with a 3-4 hour "schedule". He screamed at toys, loud noises, bright lights, etc. My younger sister and sister-in-law had little ones in the year before G was born. Both of their babies were very chilled. My son wasn't. I thought I was doing something wrong. I thought he wasn't relaxed enough because I was so stressed.

The anxiety continued. I was constantly fearful of Justin or Gramm dying or being harmed by some evil person. Snapping at my poor husband had become the norm. Gramm was around 6 months old when I realized I had post partum depression. I think it was at a visit to my general family doctor that it dawned on me that something was wrong. I'd known I hadn't been normal for several weeks. Talking with my doc, who was also a new parent, opened my eyes. After much prayer and discussion with my man, I began taking an anti-anxiety medication and got my hormones tested. As it turns out, I was headed straight for menopause at 25 years old and had to start taking hormones to get myself back on track.

The hormones and the medication helped a lot. Another motivating factor was that my sweet man sat me down and basically told me that I had to stop being mean and selfish. He did all this with the utmost care and gentleness. I listened and cried and said I was so sorry. With the Lord's help, I was able to start being nice consistently again.

pic above: me and Gramm when he was about 3 months old

If you know me, you know I can talk the paint off a wall. Surprisingly enough, I talked to very few people about my PPD. I was so ashamed of the fact that I was depressed and that I couldn't hold it together. And, since there was some family drama, I couldn't really talk to the people I normally talked to about how I was feeling.

I learned a lot during this stage of life. It was really hard, but also really good. I finally got my sea legs and enjoyed mothering our little guy. I got more sleep. I was able to get out and take my boy everywhere I went. The storm subsided and I felt free to enjoy our life without so much stinking fear.

If I could go back and talk to the naive, excited, 9 month pregnant HB pre-delivery, I would say the following:
  • be nice to your man. Put him before the baby always.
  • if you get depressed, don't freak out. Find someone to talk to about it and get help.
  • Taking anti-anxiety medicine to deal with your PPD does not mean you will be on some type of anxiety/depression medicine forever.
  • PPD does not make you a weak or inferior person.
  • A fussy baby is not a reflection on your parenting skills.
  • find friends that have little ones. Don't expect your life to look like the life of someone without children in their home.
  • run like the wind from the comparison trap. Comparing yourself to another mom will very likely never be helpful.
  • keep trusting Jesus, or at least try.
  • enjoy the cute boy, he will soon be big. (see below)

Now that I've been a mom for more than a few weeks, I know that what I experienced was very normal. If you are a new mom, an old mom, or about to be one, I encourage you to talk and/or write about your experiences. Most of us have struggled in the dark at one time or another. Being real about our lives can shed light on another person's pain and help them to grow, feel normal, and heal. Here's to keeping it real.

Love to all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vivian and Brooklyn

My girls are three years old. Three years ago today, at this time of night, I was sitting in a hospital bed simultaneously nursing my twins and grinning from ear to ear. I remember it so vividly. The Lord gave me such peace and confidence in that moment. I felt that if I could handle nursing two tiny babies (5 lbs. 9 oz. and 5 lbs. 15 oz.) at the same time when they were a mere six hours old, I could do this twin thang. Wow. I love those babies. But, they are not babies anymore. And, I can't do this twin thang. Jesus does it. I'm just a big old people-pleasing, second-guessing, fear-fighting mama. So, before I fill your pretty little heads with everything we did on our fun-filled day of celebrating Vivi and Brook, I want to include a quote that sums up how I feel about my big/little girls:

"All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this forever?" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but it was then that Wendy knew she would certainly grow up." from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Feeding people is one of my main love languages, so of course, I let my kiddos chose what we will eat for every meal on their birthdays.

Breakfast: blueberry french toast and bacon. Want the recipe? Leave a comment and I'll give it it's very own post. It's that goot. Brooklyn in front. Check out the b-day bowls I painted at a local pottery place. So fun to paint and fun to use! Brook in front.

In the two above pics, Gramm just had to give the girls some birthday sugar. Vivi in the orange bib.

Lunch: None other than Chick-fil-a complete with a trip to the playland. And, then a little jaunt over to Cupcakes on the Ridge for some sugar. Pic below, all ready to go. I cannot explain these poses. You take what you get with three kids and a photo op. :) The pics below that one are at Cupcakes. The kids look a little tired already...precursor to the sugar induced coma that was naptime.

Dinner: Chicken nuggets again, baby! The girls originally requested mac and cheese with their nuggets, but at the last minute, Brook asked french fries instead. So, parmesan oven fries it was and they were the bomb dig. The chicken nuggets were from scratch and while they are not nearly as good as the Chick, they were pretty dang good and very much enjoyed by our crew.Pic below: the girls enjoying their leftover cupcakes after dinner. Vivian on left. Goodness gracious, love those smiles!!!

Between meals we played and read and played and read. I frequent the dollar spot at Target and they occasionally have condensed, illustrated classics for 1 dollar. The girls and Gramm are loving the books. Vivian and Brooklyn may not seem to be listening attentively the entire time I read chapter books, but they enjoy it nonetheless and it's some great snuggle time.

Their presents from us were their birthday dresses and a precious little doll house (thanks to the going out of bidness sale at a local toy store). All three children have enjoyed the doll house. I smiled so big as I watched each kiddo play with the little furniture and fill the house with little people.

We put a cap on our great day with a super fun bubble bath. As I was tucking in the girls, Brooklyn suggested that I sing "Happy Birthday" one more time. I did. And I looked at them as I was singing and prayed that I would always remember their precious little faces and this sweet time in our family.

Love to all.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Super Delish, Easy and Impressive Salsa

I lurve salsa. So does the Grammster. He eats it so much that the tight-wad, nutrition nazi in me just had to start making my own more often. Here's my recipe. Get you some. (Please excuse my horrible food photography....see above).

Hb's Best Salsa
3 14.5 ounce cans whole tomatoes
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon evoo
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons sugar (everyone loves a little sugar, at least that's what I tell my man)
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper

Place peeled garlic cloves, jalapeno pepper (I remove most of the seeds bc I can't take the heat) in blender. Blend till sufficiently chopped. Poor in drained 'maters, 1/2 bunch cilantro, and the rest of the ingredients. Blend for about 10 seconds. Dip a chip and eat. Cry tears of joy. You will. It's that good.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Hello All! I cannot believe that I let a month slip by without posting! Wow. Long story short, the Bertram crew was sick for nearly 2 solid months. Thankfully, I stayed well, but my poor hubby succumbed to the flu. Each one of the children had their turn with at least one round of the stomach bug and the twins had a cold for about six weeks amid the tummy issues. The Lord sustained me through all of it and kept me from losing my ever loving mind.

Moving on, I have a recipe for all you peops. My precious ones requested muffins for breakfast and this is what I came up with, thanks to a little help from my friend, Betty.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

1 cup milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 1 2/3 cups wheat, 1/3 cup white, but I think all wheat would be fine)
1/3 cup honey
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large apples, shredded

Heat oven to 400. Line 18 muffin tins with paper cups or grease cups generously. Beat milk, oil, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, honey, baking powder, cinnamon and salt all at once just until flour is moistened. Fold in apples. Divide batter evenly among 18 cups. Bake 20 minutes or until golden (might take less time in some ovens). Cool on wire rack before serving. Be sure that the muffins are sufficiently cooled before removing paper cups.
My sweet Vivi liked them.

If you want to be like us, butter the warm muffins, whip up some heavy cream, sweeten the cream with a little maple syrup and treat your muffin to a big old dollop of whipped cream. They are to die for, I tell ya!! Enjoy!