Sleepless

I tried a new sleeping pill recently. While perusing the sleeping pill aisle at the grocery store, I realized almost every brand is actually the exact same formula. Unisom is different, but it doesn’t work well for me – or rather, it works too well.

This new one is called Alteril and markets itself as a natural, drug-free sleep aid. It has tryptophan, melatonin, and a handful of apothecary-sounding ingredients like skullcap herb extract and valerian root extract. You’re supposed to take two tablets an hour before bedtime.

So I did that on Thursday night. I was already really tired, but I usually have trouble falling asleep, so the extent to which I slept well due to the Alteril (rather than just being tired) is unclear. But I slept most of Friday. I’ve been fighting off a cold, and lost my battle on Friday; Jarom stayed home from work so I was able to rest.

Since we had lots of company over for June’s birthday cake on Saturday, I was up all Friday night cleaning and baking and trying to make the house somewhat presentable. Note to self: you are not 18 anymore. All-nighters are not an option.

When everyone had gone home after the party, I took two Alteril and went to bed. And slept beautifully for 15 hours straight.

I started thinking maybe a half dose would be better for me, so last night I just took one tablet.

Sure enough, an hour later I was extremely tired and ready to go to sleep. But I couldn’t fall asleep. I went in and out of that in-between stage, where you think you might be awake and only realize after a noise jolts you into consciousness that you’ve actually been dozing. This lasted about four hours.

I did finally fall into a deeper sleep, but then the kids started waking up (and waking each other up). And Ender wanted out. And then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was officially awake from 5:30 this morning.

Maybe a one-and-three-quarters dose is the way to go…

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Unfair

On my current list of “Super lame baby-related things”:

Persistent morning sickness-like queasiness that is definitely not caused by pregnancy. Sure feels the same, though, and guess what? I don’t like it for a lot of reasons. Mainly because – oh yes, my baby died.

No Halloween costume for a tiny baby this year.

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while, but not from waking up to feed a newborn. Nope, it’s because my dumb dog keeps wanting to go eat grass and bugs in the middle of the night. Really, Ender?

This list should probably be qualified by the admission that I’ve been up all night cleaning and baking for June’s birthday, so my mood isn’t the best to begin with. Adding queasiness on top of that has not been fun.

And now, on with life! Those are all my complaints for the moment.


Busy

I’m sitting in a play area and thinking profound thoughts. It’s noisy here, and busy with kids running around (and Evan howling like a werewolf. Or maybe it’s June doing that). Isn’t life always busy? How do you get around that?

I think everyone wants to feel less busy, at one time or another – if not all the time. I know I want to have less clutter in my house, fewer distractions, less time wasted on trivial things and more time enjoying life with my family. But so much gets in the way. I’m not interested in giving up Facebook or blogging, because those keep me connected. At the same time, seeing a continuous stream of updates and busy-ness can be overwhelming. It makes the world seem to move at a frantic pace (which I guess it really does).

So how do I prevent my small corner of the world from moving at a frantic pace? Christian’s death has helped me be able to see what’s essential and truly important in my life, and with a broader perspective, but I still have a lot of trouble paring down to those essential, important pieces. There’s just so much happening. Everything feels hurried and urgent.

I came back on Saturday from a trip to visit my parents in California. It was the first stress-free trip of my adult life. Thank you Zoloft and practiced patience for making it possible – but especially my mom and dad for ten days of no chores, no cooking, no obligations. Plus naps! I feel so much mores relaxed now. And I want to hold onto that relaxed feeling. Do you think that’s achievable? If I limit our tv and internet time, avoid filling our days with outings and activities, try doing everything more slowly – can I get to a place where I don’t feel frantic?

Is it bad to be busy?

What do you think? How do you find quiet in the frantic pace of the world?

P.S. Amish hour has been our best attempt at finding quiet so far. But we haven’t been very good about doing it lately!


Month 6

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Next Thursday will be the six-month mark of Christian’s birth and death, so I thought I’d do a little summary of what the past half year has been like for me.

At first, the hormone shift and physical recovery made it hard to exist. My milk came in the morning of the funeral, which meant I was in a ton of pain and everyone wanted to hug me. Then for the next week I had intense hot flashes and crazier-than-normal emotional swings. Once all of that settled down, I was feeling like I could start to process and accept the death of my child – but my brother and his wife had a baby boy right after Mother’s Day. While I am thrilled and delighted for them, it was a very hard time for me feeling jealous and resentful and absolutely bereaved. This led to a pretty textbook case of postpartum depression.

Thankfully, it passed, and I began to adjust somewhat to the ups and downs of everyday life. Going to church was immensely difficult, because there were so many pregnant women and new babies around me. A lot of times I didn’t go at all, and when I did make it there, I often left partway through so I could go cry. I could tell that other people at church weren’t sure how to approach me – would it be better to say something or not say something? (Pro tip: it’s always better to say something than nothing, even if you think you don’t have the right words. An awkward “I’ve been thinking of you and wish I knew how to help” or “I wish I knew what to say” is infinitely better than avoiding me.)

I remember not wanting to change the calendar from April to May, and then again every new month because it felt like I was getting further and further away from Christian.

I had periods of good days where it seemed like I was adjusting well and returning to normal life. I had blah days where I laid in bed most of the time or sat on the couch doing nothing.

Gradually, I cried less often.

This past Sunday I was caught off guard by three newborns sitting near me in church. As everyone was oohing and aahing over these brand new babies, I fought back panic and tears as long as I could. Then I ran off to the bathroom to sob. I felt better after a good cry, especially since it was the first time I’d cried in a few weeks.

Six months ago, I would never have believed that I could go a few weeks without breaking down. What’s surprising to me still is that when I do feel sad now, it doesn’t lead to a breakdown. I cry for a little bit, and then I move on. I don’t have the overwhelming despair that I did before.

So here is my encouraging message of hope. I know many of you are not religious or have different religious beliefs from me, but this is what I believe: Christian still exists. He’s separated from me, for now, but eventually we will be reunited. I doubted that his death would ever lose its sting, but it has, because of my firm hope in resurrection. All of us are here on earth as part of a bigger plan, which includes death – but that isn’t the end. Far from it. I’ll have an eternity to spend with Jarom, Evan, June, and Christian because families are meant to be forever.

And right now I’m six months closer to being with Christian again.


Parenting

Jarom and I were talking last night about how our parenting has changed – or how we wish it would change – since Christian died. We want to be more loving toward Evan and June, to make sure they know how much we love them, just as we wanted Christian to be loved.

Easier said than done.

Maybe I’m short on maternal instincts or perhaps (definitely) patience, but kids are frustrating! And difficult! And challenging! It’s hard for me to feel compassionate and loving when June calls me back into her room at 11:00, 11:03, 11:08, because she wants pink milk and then it wasn’t pink enough and then she’s terrified of monsters and then she wants more smooches. (Post coming soon about our challenges with June’s intense fear of the dark.) Why isn’t she asleep at that time of night? It’s even more aggravating when I know we’ll be doing the whole routine over again at 4:00 am.

Or I could talk about Evan’s breakdowns when I ask him to clean. If I even say the word “clean,” he immediately starts whining and nearing tears – “But I haaaaaaate cleaning!” I’ve tried a lot of approaches, none of which are very successful: explaining that everyone hates cleaning, even me, but it’s part of my job and his job; saying that cleaning is a lot more fun, or at least less bad, when we do it together; rewards for when he does pick things up; asking him to put away just five things – they’re all met with “But I don’t want to clean!”

I admit, there have been a few times when I try to explain that we don’t always get what we want and I didn’t want Christian to die and hey, Evan, you just NEED TO CLEAN even if you don’t want to. That’s life.

It probably isn’t a very good parenting technique.

But there are subtle changes. I am gradually becoming just a little more patient and a little more willing to understand things from my kids’ point of view. If I have to sit in Evan’s room and instruct him to pick up one item at a time and then tell him where to put it, maybe that will be better for all of us than me losing my temper and Evan sobbing and wailing about how terrible cleaning is. Maybe Evan and June are subconsciously trying to make up for the fussing Christian will never do. When June spends the better part of an hour screaming because she wants Tinkerbell underwear (how dare I put anything else in her closet), maybe I can remind myself that although it is a minor – and ridiculous – issue to me, June’s world is crashing down. Maybe a little sympathy?

And there are so many good moments. Lately Evan and June both love telling me I’m a donkey so I’ll make donkey sounds, or trying to make me fake cry because they think it’s hilarious. Right now we’re at the play area (don’t judge) and Evan is crawling around pretending to be a dog, with five other kids copying him. June is making a dinosaur eat my face. Or kiss me, I’m not sure which. Evan went on a drive up the canyon with Jarom’s grandma and declared that the fall colors made it Rainbow Mountain. He also insists on wearing his new Batman pajamas day and night. I’ve put my foot down about him wearing them to preschool, but everywhere else he’s mostly admired for his wardrobe choice. I suppose four-year-olds can get away with it.

I’m trying to be patient with myself as I work at being a better parent. Again, easier said than done. But I think – I hope – I’m on the right path.


Challenges

Last week I decided I wanted some more direction with what books I read. Remember I keep track of my reading with a really great spreadsheet? And a lot of years, I’ve set specific goals – sometimes the number of books I read or the total number of pages I read between January 1 and December 31. Once I read 26 books, each with an author whose last name started with a different letter of the alphabet. Last year it was just nice to be done with school (finally!) and have a chance to pick my own books, so I didn’t challenge myself.

I got carried away last week, though. I started by finding a few title challenges, where you have to read a book with a number in the title or something you’d see in the sky (airplane, sun, comet, parachute). I ended up with four or five of those challenges, at six requirements apiece, and dumped them all into a big list. Then I decided I’d combine that with an alphabetical title challenge – 26 books, with titles like Angela’s Ashes and The Broken Teaglass. I allowed overlap between these two lists: I could count The Broken Teaglass for both the alphabetical challenge (the letter B) and the keyword challenge (something you’d find in the kitchen).

But no, this wasn’t enough. On top of that, I added an alphabetical surname challenge like I did a few years ago, but made a rule that there couldn’t be any overlap between the two alphabetical lists. So I wouldn’t be able to count Emily Arsenault, author of The Broken Teaglass, for the letter A in my author list because I’d already counted the book for the letter B in my title list.

It gets better. I’ve now been keeping a spreadsheet of my yearly reading since 2004 and decided to set some milestone goals as well: 120,000 total pages read in the past 10 years, and 400 total new books read in the same time. My current numbers are 115,969 pages and 390 books, so this is doable.

Well . . . I should say, it would be doable if that were my only goal for the rest of the year. All of these challenges together, though – pretty overwhelming. I do still have to be a responsible parent and sleep and stuff like that.

My solution: make it a before-I-turn-30 goal. It gives me until next July, which is much more realistic, and it seems more monumental. Monumentaler, if you will. I’ve already picked out all the remaining books I need to complete these challenges, except one with a party or celebration in the title. Can you think of a good book that could fill this requirement? Let me know in the comments!


Mispronounced

I’ve written before about how much I love some of the words Evan and June mispronounce. I correct most words, but there are a few I leave alone. If you didn’t catch my earlier post about it (maybe it was on Facebook?) I’ll recap my favorite words, and then I have a few new ones to add…

  • Packpack for backpack.
  • Muse and musing for use and using.
  • Shmarmellow for marshmallow.
  • Pasgusting for disgusting.
  • Recently June has been asking to watch Ploo (which I finally figured out was Blue’s Clues) and pretending to be an eagle. And eagles, according to June, say “SEEG!” quite loudly. And shrilly. Is shrilly a word? I tried to get her to say “btw” (you know, bee tee dubs) and she amused herself by saying “POOP dee dee dumbs!” Oh, June.

    Evan is doing interesting things in learning how tenses work. The other day he told me he had “tookened” something (instead of taken). I did correct that, but only after telling him that was a good job trying to use the word.

    My absolute favorite, by far, is one June has mostly stopped using: chicklips for chapstick. Love!

    P.S. Completely unrelated: buy stuff.