July 30, 2012 § 4 Comments
When I was in my early twenties I got this real bad itch. Figuratively. During my college years I wasn’t searching for nor did I find “The One.” I wanted to travel, go places, see the world! It didn’t matter that I had college debt, I knew I would figure out how to pay that. I didn’t even care about my minimal material possessions, I was dreaming about living out of a suitcase and taking advantage of public transportation.
As the years went on, I did travel for about eight months or so, I married, had kids, and somewhat lost myself. Deep down inside, the itch went on itching and I couldn’t help but feel hopeless.
For whatever the reason, things have happened to us. Stupid financial decisions, material possessions that cause us debt, heartache in the form of health problems. The stress kept piling up over the years. Trever and I are in love, indeed, yet have felt drastically more stressed about life than one should be.
Enough with our woes.
At the onset of this year, we put out three main goals to focus on: spiritual, physical, and dream-job-oriented, which I outlined in my post A Family Overview in review of 2011. Our hopes have been to connect more spiritually, get my tummy and his heart and back issues in order, and do something fabulous together to make mula.
Crazy how when you put that out in the universe, she listens.
My tummy, as many of you know, has given me major troubles. Especially since my pregnancy with Edric Fane (born January 31), I haven’t been able to digest food properly. Or so I thought.
Gluten seemed to the be issue since about 2007 when I cut it out of my diet. And then I tacked on dairy, which had been a struggle since my toddlerhood. As well as animal protein, post-Eddie pregnancy.
Shoot, I didn’t even feel like eating, let alone raising two children, dealing with mold issues and legal battles, going on a spiritual pilgrimage, or starting a company with Trever (more on that another time). Nothing sounding appealing and everything felt overwhelming. And I mean everything.
…That’s what happens when you can’t eat.
I was about up to my wits end on existential looping when I decided I needed some talk therapy or something. I asked around on FB. Texted some friends. (This was right after I spent two weeks living on rice and kale, thinking I had an ulcer, and was in a fender bender in my new-to-me car with AC whilst turning into my homeopathic doctors office. I had had it up to here!)
My good friend, Crystal, in particular wanted to share her magicians, uh hum, healers information with me. She had helped her become pregnant with her fabulous little man Rane 3 years prior-to.
I needed a little magic. I figured it was worth a shot.
I had Trever call the healer because on this particular Thursday night I was curled up in a ball with “stomach” pain. That night we would set an appointment for the next Monday to come.
As the weekend passed, I was filled with excitement in anticipation. Someone who could possibly actually possibly help me. A miracle.
Monday came and Trever and I jaunted down to meet said healer with the kids. In an hour and a half of amazingness, she discovered the problem, diagnosed the issue, and recommended a supplement to be taken breakfast, lunch, and dinner 3x a day for 13 days.
My pancreas has been operating at almost nothing, meaning I haven’t been digesting food. My mom confirmed this when I relayed the news and she told me of a gut instinct (no pun intended) she had to get my pancreas checked when I was eight! 8! 8!
It was also my spleen. It hasn’t been creating enough red blood cells, thus it hasn’t been transporting enough oxygen to the rest of my body. Hence the exhaustion.
That Monday is best day of my life that I can think of to date (okay, minus my graduation, marriage, birth of children, and a handful of others). Learning the possible source of my issue and, in turn, allowing my body to heal itself through the usage of supplements has been the greatest gift I could give myself.
Many of you have probably heard me complain about my stomach, wheat-free gluten-free vegan diet, and thus have seen me not in my best form. For that I apologize. I’m on the up and up.
Discovering the gut source has allowed me to become a better person. A better wife, a better mom, a better friend. And it marks the beginning of an adventure that we, as a family, are about to embark on called Life.
Here’s to better today’s. And happier tomorrow’s. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
May 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
I promise this has a very happy ending.
It’s so strange how you can begin to feel extremely overwhelmed all of the sudden and not know where the flood of feelings came from. Depression–unknown needs and/or needs that aren’t getting met–hits the best of us like a big slap in the face every once and awhile, some more than others.
Recently, Trever has been getting more work (yay!) and I’ve been feeling distant. As he adds on more hours, I spend more time at home with the kids. After the Great Mold Fiasco, he actually worked 22 days in a row. I thought I was going to fall to pieces.
Being with my cuties for ten, twelve, fourteen hour days can wear on one’s soul, regardless of how utterly adorable they are minute by minute. Even the best parenting class can’t help you get a break. Especially when the event of peeing isn’t private.
This past week, Trever stepped into another marathon-get-er-done sprint to finish a job. And I fell into an existential looping depression. I could’t get myself to shut up no matter how much I tried. I drank water, ate fruits and veggies, made Indian dal, drank coconut water, kombucha, coffee, tea, snuggled with the kids, took a break from blogging, sang made-up songs, went to the park, breastfed my buddy (obviously), drew pictures, read every book we own, looked at photos, played catch (kind of, we’re working in it), and had a game of hide-and-go seek.
Nothing. Was. Working.
I could still hear my looping thoughts and I was still getting angry with Audrey even though I was trying so hard to remain happy. Yet there I was: parenting with unmet needs looming in my frontal lobe. I did the old call the mom thing (my mom, the MFT) and she said get a break.
I had a break. Got my nails did. Purchased a new bra. Bought a birthday present. Had a nice breather. Trever took the next day off and I couldn’t feel more elated. Pressing in the back of my mind at the third birthday party was the fact that he was going to work the next day.
I missed him already. (I told you this would have a happy ending. I’m getting there.)
After getting the kids into bed (finally) and watching a couple episodes of Friends, season 4, we rallied in the bathroom to brush our teeth. Then it came out.
“I’m so scared of being depressed tomorrow.”
“Why? What do you need?”
There you have it. He knew there was something I needed and I couldn’t have pin-pointed it that easily. We spent the next half an hour trying to understand one another. I finally worked out a few of the things I was hoping for him to get. And then I said it:
You’re my best friend.
That’s what it really comes down to. I simply want to spend more time with him and help him with the marketing and administration stuff for the company we’re starting (more on that later). I desire to share the work load and be able to enjoy our time together more, knowing full well that the bookkeeping is getting done and that we/he has work scheduled weeks in advance.
That’s what it really comes down to. Stepping back, he’s my best friend.
See, told ya.
May 17, 2012 § 10 Comments
As a parent, children add a whole new gamut of uncomfortable situations to the table, sadly. It wasn’t until we had Audrey that Trever and I realized how many issues we have with feeling embarrassed in public.
I can clear as day remember the first time this really hit me when we moved into our new place in Long Beach and my dad, step mom, and little sister came to visit. We went to a pizza parlor together and a man in a booth behind us said,
“Who brings a baby to a pizza parlor?”
Trever looked like he was going to punch someone in the face. Instead he stood up, scooped the crying three-week-old Audrey from my arms and walked out into the cold beach night. From that point on, he almost always refused to eat out with Audrey until she was about twenty months and not crying as frequently.
My first reaction to his stubbornness was they just need to deal with it. Yet as time has gone on, it’s become apparent that my feelings of embarrassment arise as a parent much more frequently than Trever’s.
Since the parlor brawl (hehe) over two years ago, Trev has let go of a lot of the issues and triggers that were holding him to those feelings. I, on the other hand, have only explored more with my children by my side and come in contact with more people who want a kid-free (or at least explorative, bouncy, energetic kid-free) environment. You’ll never guess where I’ve discovered these more than uncomfortable situations:
• At the grocery store: Audrey wanting to help put things in the cart
• In mommy and me yoga: She’s too old for the class
• Music class: She’s too bouncy, bubbly, and the center of attention
• At the park: She wants to be everyone’s friend
• In mommy groups: She wants to explore and needs a lot of hands-on play
My daughter is so much like myself and her father–playful, funny, personable, and always performing–that I’m constantly reminded of myself. I can’t help but remember what it felt like to be that way and to continually have people treating me like I was making them uncomfortable, embarrassed, or the like.
Now I see the scenario playing out from a different perspective. I don’t feel like either of my parents knew what to do with me and also felt constantly embarrassed. Here I am replaying the same parenting techniques and I have no idea how to break free.
I love my Audrey, but I don’t really feel comfortable taking her practically anywhere–on top of that, I’ve got an infant’s needs that I’m trying to meet while protecting the heart of my toddler. I feel like staying at home all day every day to protect her and keep her safe from the world because I know the end result of having people constantly shame the behavior of a performer: You stop wanting to perform. You turn away from community and people and hide from everyone you know because it’s easier than being hurt.
And I want her to perform! If I had the money to, she’d be in dance class, voice class, musical theatre class, acting class,…anything performance related, you name it, she’d be there. She loves it! She eats it up! She will watch movies and act out the entire thing. She’ll sing the songs, dance, put on outfits like them, say the lines, and drag you along to perform with her. It’s the best!
I’m so afraid of killing that spark inside of her as so many people in my childhood did to me. It’s the acceptance that I do desire for her. I have such a hard time knowing and feeling if I’m accepted and I often run away from people, places, and events if I don’t know if I am or I can’t tell.
We all need to feel accepted, it’s a core desire of our humanness. Yet I struggle with it so deeply.
May 14, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It’s mornings when I wake up after I’ve been dreaming about my past all night long telling myself I should have married someone else, not had children yet, or been on a completely different path that really mess up my day and screw with my head. I’m not sure where I’m supposed to put that and it’s hard to simply shake. Then I realize after I wake up a bit more that I have these two beautiful children that I spent years in the making (hehe) sitting right in front of me.
Yet I’ve got my past thrown into my face by my subconscious. As I come to, I just want to say,
“Subconscious, you can go eat a you-know-what.”
Right then and there I make the decision, a difficult one at that, to be present in my day. To put away the sleepy dream funk and realize what I’ve got in the here and now, regardless of how begrudging that little deep voice inside of me is. I mean, I’ve got two people to take care of, my nose is feeling stuffy, my throat is feeling scratchy, and I feel alone (legitimately, I’m all by myself). It’s in those moments where I have to really be intentional about my day about what’s going on in my mind because it’s so easy to just continue the thought process of what my subconscious has been running all night long.
What if I would have stayed in Australia? What if I would have chosen this person and not that person? What if I would’ve had no kids by now and Trever and I were still dating? (Something when actually discussed yesterday and laughed about.)
That’s what it comes down to. My silly sleep can be related back to yesterdays discussions and my own bodily issues. Something that I don’t share with people very often is that both of us have doubts about getting married on the day that we did–February 24, 2008. We definitely don’t regret marrying one another, however the act in which our marriage occurred in February was anything but beautiful. This discussion that we had yesterday about our wedding day, on top of my stomach problems I was having, caused me to have nightmares all night long. Enough nightmares to attempt to get the better of me.
I’m determined to be intentional about the decisions that I make and what I’m telling myself for the rest of the day. I love my husband and the fact that he cleaned out my entire car and picked up the apartment to make it look nice when I woke up this morning. And I love spending the day with my beautiful children and the privilege that I have to not have to work.
So we’re going to yoga together and then probably the park and then maybe even go visit Papa (as he requested yesterday). Boo on my subconscious. I’m going to continue to enjoy my life and my day. Boo on sleepy dream funk.
May 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
When I see my daughters small shoes, they just stare right back at me. I can imagine her little feet slipping into each one. See her sweet face asking for my help after she’s already put them on once or twice and claimed her autonomy.
She wants to make sure that mama is still there. That mama loves her. That mama hasn’t forgotten about her even though her little brother Edric has stepped into her once single limelight.
I remind her every so often of the time when it was “just us.” I say,
“Remember when it was just me, you, and papa? We would go to the park together and run around. Read books. Sing songs. Visit friends. Drive in the car. We had a great two years together.”
I pause for a moment and watch the smile on her face grow bigger as she remembers and then continue,
“And now we have Edric. He’s a part of our three. He has made it four. And we are going to have many more fun memories together.”
I think my lovely believes me. She has always called her brother “my baby” and it’s only become more tough since we moved. I can’t even imagine what leaving one of the first places you’re really consciously aware of feels like.
Although I of all people know material possessions can’t make you happy, I bought her new shoes on Sunday. Her old shoes were falling apart and not looking very much like a princess as she would hope.
I took her to the store–three, in fact–to find the perfect pair. A pair that was sparkly and comfy and mama could afford. Those little shoes are sitting by the end of her bed. And I’m thinking about her toes peaking out of the front. Her smile as she puts them on and zips up the back.
Those small shoes. They’re just staring back at me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful moms out there…that means you!!
April 30, 2012 § 4 Comments
Have you ever wondered if you were just loved exactly where you were at how much more awesome you would be? Not gonna lie, I think about it all the time. This little voice inside of me constantly tells me that I don’t do things quite right. That I could fix this or that. And that those around me are continuously judging me with a harsh and differing point of view.
Yes, I hate that voice. It’s all too familiar. It’s been there since I was just a little girl. Particularly louder since I became a mom and added more responsibility to my plate. It’s a wonder I ever accomplish a thing. How do I get through my day? I get the voice to settle down a bit and pump myself up with a bit of self-talk. I drink a lot of water. I eat healthy at the appropriate times. And I try to do what feels natural, what flows.
It isn’t always easy. I get a poor nights sleep. I forget to drink anything besides coffee to keep me awake. The dishes are dirty and I need to go grocery shopping and, besides, I’m not even having a “cute” day. My hair is a curly mess, my favorite shirt is dirty, and I didn’t have time to apply any make-up. Nothing. Can. Go. Right.
The day gets the better of me. All of the sudden my thoughts are swimming with existentialism. I can’t figure out what I’m doing. It all seems too difficult. I’m at odds with what I really want to do! Am I a writer? A blogger? An entrepreneur? Do I pursue an MA in creative writing, songwriting, commercial music? Do I wait until the kids are in school to do other things and pursue my interests? Or do I homeschool and forgo “me” altogether until much later in life?
Ahhh! Who am I? Why am I here? What on earth am I doing? Is there a god with a capital “G” and if there is, would he/she just tell me what I’m doing?!!!?!?!?!
And then it hits me. I knew this about myself the moment I woke up to my beautiful 3-month-old son lying next to me smiling with bright blue eyes at 7:18am this morning.
March 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Growth is one of those funny things that you don’t really notice until **BAM!** it happens and you’re there. You don’t necessarily feel more mature. Or further ahead. Or like you know more than you used to. If you’re like me, you just feel like you’ve encountered a shift in your perspective.
I happen to be madly in love with growth, always have been. It’s only deepened since I became a mother. You see, as a mother, I’ve noticed that I “monitor” my personal growth even less. Not that that’s a good thing. Yet it’s true.
The last big hurrah before baby number two was born was when I had Audrey. I remember thinking that I could die during this experience (child labor), but that it was okay. My new bundle of sunshine was worth it.
The second with Edric was no different. I so strongly desired their life to flourish that my own needs–to be comfortable, to be sleeping, to not be in pain–were far from my mind. And in both instances after the labor, I looked into my own eyes in the mirror and said,
“Yep, I don’t know how, but you’ve grown.”
It’s one of those growth things that you just can’t pin-point really. It just is. You just did. You simply are. And it feels right. Magical personal growth that can’t be taught, explained, or even really grasped by the one experiencing it.
And so as motherhood goes, I continue to embrace whatever my soul and spirit leads me too. More growth in this way or that. More revelation. More truth that jives with who I am. I try to relax into it like a yoga pose, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Focusing on nothing else but the sheer fact that it’s growth.
Photo: Audrey in a dress that has a bit of room for growth.
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March 21, 2012 § 1 Comment
It’s not my parenting. Or the fact that I need help learning to parent. As I’ve had three or more friends point out, I’m good at “intuitive parenting” when I’ve told them I wanted to take the Echo Parenting class in Echo Park.
They’re right. It’s not my parenting. It’s my patience, self-control and ability to keep my temper. I love Audrey to bits and pieces but I often take the easy way out. Instead of talking to her, asking if she wants help, discussing options, and allowing her to share her opinion, I do just the opposite.
When we’re on a walk and I want to go home, more often than not, I pick her up kicking and screaming and get her to where I want to go. Usually this occurs when I have something going on–that is, I know it’s my issue, not hers. I have to go to the bathroom. I’m cold. I’m tired. Edric is crying. I’m hungry. I’m just not in the mood. I think she’s being bratty. And so on.
Me. My issue. My problem. My Issue Parenting. My behavior that is getting out of line that I need to control. It has absolutely zero, nada, zilch to do with Audrey. Okay, yes, she’s being a kid. But that’s what she does best.
And I think that’s the point of nonviolent parenting and nonviolent communicationp. It’s keeping your cool even when you don’t feel like it. It’s taking the hard way of remaining empathetic and understanding rather than throwing a fit yourself. Most importantly, it’s showing your child how to love and cope.
I want to model to Audrey how to treat other human beings in a way that I am proud of. In a way that I actually want myself and those around me to be treated. I find that when I get out of hand by not controlling myself and parenting in the way that is intuitive to me, I instantaneously regret what I have done.
I’m so over it. I’m over my lack of self-control and ready to take a deep breath and communicate. Even when Edric is screaming at the top of his lungs and Audrey wants to continue playing and isn’t listening. I’m gonna do it! I’m gonna not do the first thing that comes to mind. I’m going to love her in the midst of what feels like chaos. I’m going to stop my Issue Parenting if it’s the last thing I do and practice nonviolent parenting. For the sake of love.
Photo: Because she’s so worth it.
February 8, 2012 § 4 Comments
It’s been a whirlwind of a week over here in the O’Brien household. We’ve had tons of friends and family come to our aid with help, food, and care. I’ve been doing my duty to rest as much as possible, as this time, I’m determined to not take six months just to start feeling normal again–I was moving to Long Beach when Audrey was three weeks old and walking our year-old puppy everyday thereafter. Not a brilliant recovery plan.
So this time, I’m determined to sit on the couch doing nothing and actually sleep when the baby sleeps like they tell you to. I’m just hoping Trev and I figure out how to get our oldest–that’s funny to write–out of the house while he’s at work. Audrey has gone out with Grandma, Aunt Liz, and other friends and has had a blast. It’s funny how much I miss her. When she’s not here, all I can think is:
I wonder what Audrey’s doing? I hope she’s having fun.
And I want to be having fun with her. She’s gone to the park numerous times, to Disneyland, to the Magical Playground (an indoor play place), to the grocery store, and lots of other places with her Papa. Wherever she goes though, I want to be there with her. I’m sure other parents who’ve experienced having more than one have gone through the same range of feelings I’m having now.
I’m jealous of those who take her out and enjoy her company. I long to sit and snuggle with her, holding her nice and close. I can’t wait to do even the simplest of chores with her out of the house, just to see her face light up as she learns more about life. And I look forward to the time when we’ll be able to be together having fun.
I love my first baby.
When Edric came, my heart expanded and found plenty more space for him. It wasn’t even a question or worry on my mind. Room for my buddy just appeared. Partly the oxytocin, partly because bringing people into the world is the most sacred and glorious thing known to man. Hands down. Now that he’s here, I can’t imagine life without him similarly to how I can’t imagine life without my Audrey.
Holding Edric everyday is a pure joy. I could stare at him every second and I spend much of my time doing so. Yet I still miss Audrey. It’s the oxytocin spill. It’s pouring out everywhere. I’ve tried to hold it in and keep it contained, but I can’t help it. I love my babies. And I’ll never stop.
February 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
It’s a boy! How exciting is that? Trever, Audrey, and I couldn’t be more stoked to welcome (drum roll, please):
Edric Fane O’Brien
January 31st, 2012 at 12:24pm
8lbs 10 ounces and 20.5 inches
As many of you know, we had Audrey at home and wanted to give it another go the second time around. With the help of our two midwives–who acted more as angels–Edric (aka My Buddy) was born in only five short hours at home.
If you read my post from Sunday, you know I was feeling quite a bit restless and antsy for a myriad of reasons. I didn’t realize till later that day, that I was also a bit stressed about Trever going to work (because we need the money) and going into labor while he was gone.
With all of my practice contractions leading up to that point, I knew there was a good chance that they would be super intense, active labor contractions from the get-go. Or there was the possibility of them camelbacking–having one on top of the other with no break–because of my fifteen hour labor experience previously with Audrey. Either way, it made me nervous.
So when I spoke to the mom down in San Diego about this, she asked if it would be helpful to use some of her vacation time and come relieve some of that stress by being there while Trever was at work starting Monday. Yes, please.
The mom arrived Monday afternoon and I dumped all of my cares and worries onto her. It felt good. I was beginning to relax. And get more excited about the arrival of my baby. Not more antsy. Yay for moms that are also therapists in “real life.”
That night, I couldn’t sleep with my sore hips, ouchie pelvis, and a very large noggin pressing further and further and further down, but I finally got settled a bit after midnight. Around six in the morning while it was still dark, I added the peeing feeling that I was having in reality to my current dream,
“That’s not pee because I never pee myself, but I think I’ll just sleep a little longer anyway because I’m pooped.”
And that I did until 7:32am when a contraction made it impossible to.
That was a real contraction, I thought. Yet I still decided to add it to another dream.
“Ouch! Okay, alright. I’m up.”
And I slowly rolled out of bed, stood up, and waddled to the bathroom. Yep. My water had officially broken.
After numerous false alarms, I texted my midwives that I was having “real” contractions and that my water had broke. They both replied immediately and Kelly came to my aid not more than 30 minutes later. Which by that point I was leaning against our orange chair during each contraction.
“Trever, I’m gonna need you in a about fifteen minutes, oh and I need something to eat,” I said.
While I breathed through each contraction every three minutes, Trever made me a breakfast burrito, complete with potatoes, eggs, cheese, and salsa. I ate a few bites, then sat it down. Ate a few more, and repeated the cycle. Until the burrito was no more.
Somehow magically the tub–for waterbirth, as well as natural pain relief–was filled in our living room and I waddled over from the comfort of the orange chair to the warm tub. I climbed in and did my best to relax.
“This is going too fast. This is too calm. Can my baby really be coming?”
My contractions started and ended with such a familiar intensity that waves of memories of my first pregnancy came to my mind. I tried to stay in the present and not get caught up in how things were then. What felt like an hour past and I felt the urgency to push,
“Should I feel like pushing now?” I asked Kelly.
“It’s because the babies head is so far down. But do whatever you feel like doing.”
So I kept listening to my body. Changing positions when I felt I needed to. Standing for a contraction or two just to alter the scenery. Kelly would come to my aid before I even expressed the need. I would think,
“Oooh, I’d love to hear how the baby is, if they’re still happy!” during a contraction.
And when I would open my eyes, there Kelly would be with her Doppler, waiting to listen to the babies heart beat. Happy. Edric was always happy.
After a few hours of being in various positions in and out of the tub, the time seemed to slow down and fly by simultaneously. Margo arrived and saw me through a few difficult contractions.
“They’re on top of each other! I need a break!” I said, exasperated.
“You’re almost there, why don’t you try laying on your side and they’ll spread out.”
I climbed onto the pull out couch and laid on my left side.
“I think I’m in transition,” I cried.
After three contractions on one side, I flipped to the other and had three more.
In the next thirty minutes, a whirlwind of activity occurred. Things slowed down as the baby took a break and I got a little rest. The break I needed. I had three or four contractions in the tub, a couple on the toilet, and again in the tub.
I knew I had to push.
“Feel your babies head,” Kelly exclaimed!
I could feel it! I could feel the baby! And that gave me the energy and excitement to push. I began pushing in the tub and after two contractions, Kelly suggested I get onto the bed. I had Audrey on the bed, so it was familiar territory. Okay, I thought, and slowly got dried off and to the bed again.
Phew. After what felt like only ten minutes, I could feel even more of Edric. I was a little nervous to push. He was so close. He was coming and almost there!
His head was out! My baby. But his shoulders were stuck!
“Flip over!” Margo said.
“Now?” I asked.
And so I did. I flipped to my hands and knees and pushed my heart out. Margo and Kelly helped the little man come out. In a minute and a half, we were snuggling. My little man was on my tummy. I looked between his legs to see who I’d be carrying these past nine months.
It was my buddy. My Edric. My love.