Friday, October 28, 2011

Weaned




Riley, 10 lbs 2 oz, beautiful VBAC, August 14th 2008

 

One day old, nursing non stop, good latch
champion breastfeeder



1 month old




Cutie

In the Bjorn, walking the kids to school


Snoozing, Ayden, Momma, Riley


Pouty lip


Chubs loves booby


Milk pukes


Riley and I, with my cousin Sara and Ryen, NIP

Chubby pumpkin, 100% mommy milk


With Sara and Ryen again, Dr Seuss style

nursing in the Ergo


Not an NIP photo, but I love this one...

Ditto: the year Ri was born we had so much snow...

NIP at a restaurant

NUMMERS!

Gentian violet face

I pumped daily for Riley's older brother for 14 months...
On this day he decided to help himself while I was pumping


One year old

18 months (Christmas)

2 years old (and I was pregnant with Amarys here)

Welcome, baby sister!

3 years old


3 years, 2 months old, several weeks before weaning


It was a beautiful journey, and a wonderful part of our relationship.  And now it's done.  I'm a little bit sad, and a bit relieved, because I was definitely done.  I nursed Ayden for 14 months, pumped for Matthew for 14 months, and nursed Riley for 38 months.  A pretty good run, I'd say!  I had been feeling 'done' for several months, and talking with Riley about the possibility of being finished with nursing for awhile.  Then one day last week I nursed him in the morning (painfully; no matter how much latch and position adjustment I did, I could only get a painless latch about 20% of the time in the past few months) and thought, 'this is it.  I'm done.  I don't want to do this anymore.'  So midmorning I sat him down and told him we were done.  I said I love him and we can do other things like cuddles, songs, tickles, and kisses, but no more milkies, because he's such a big boy now.  We talked about fun things that big boys can do that little boys and babies can't do, and made plans to bake cookies together as a fun, big boy activity.  And that was it.

He's asked a few times, and is pretty persistent about it first thing in the morning and last thing at night in particular.  He LOVED his milkies.  But I can talk him out of it, and sometimes snuggles with daddy are a nice substitute.  We're both a bit sad, and I was more ready than he was to be finished, but we're managing!  Yesterday in particular, he baked cookies with me, planted bulbs in our garden with Brent and I, and ate ice cream specifically because he is a big boy.  And he seemed pretty happy with that.
=)
So am I.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Death Cab for Cutie

For our anniversary in August, we went to Portland.  It rocked.  We don't have a ton of extra cash for things like gifts or trips since we bought our new, bigger house, but I scraped together enough for tickets to Death Cab For Cutie.  They are an indie band from Seattle (Bellingham originally) that Brent really loves, and I like really quite a lot.  They are more 'his' band than mine (mine include Mumford and Sons, Sufjan Stevens, Snow Patrol, and The Killers), but I am a total fan, too.  Anyways, the tickets were something I was very proud of; I'm not good at giving gifts, and Brent could make a cottage industry out of it.  This time I got it SO RIGHT!  I pretended not to listen as he went on about DC coming to Vancouver in October, made some flippant comment about finances, and secretly organized tickets behind his back.  He almost fell off the bed when he saw the tickets on the morning of our anniversary!  And I was pumped.

Little did I know he had gone to great lengths to replace my engagement ring, which was lost when Riley was about six months old.  I'm kind of glad the jeweler couldn't get it done in time~the ring would have outshadowed my perfect Death Cab anniversary gift just a little...

So the concert was last Friday!!  We packed up all four kids and sent them to gramma and grampa's house~Amarys, too.  She has stayed with her grandparents for short stints thus far, but not an entire evening including bedtime.  Bedtime with Amarys is smooth and easy, provided I am present and my boobs are pumping out milk.  Any variation on this, and she freaks out.  Boobs empty?  Scratchy freakout.  Mommy in the bathroom?  Baby swearing tirade.  Mommy goes to book club?  End.  Of.  World.
I loooove my daughter.  All day, every day, she's stuck to my side: often literally, since playing by my feet on the floor is simply not satisfactory while I make dinner on most nights.  But she's an intense personality and I need some small, infrequent breaks from her.  I'm so grateful she is such an amazing sleeper, because this provides me with most of what I need as far as recharging time.  (Sleep issues largely resolved, THANK YOU No Cry Sleep Solution)!  Our trip to Portland, she tagged along happily, and dinners and such so far she generally comes along with us.  But now that she's mobile this isn't so easy, and now that she eats solid food I feel better about leaving her behind for longer.  This venture was hard for me!!  Good, but hard.  I pumped several bottles, and sent Amarys off with her grandparents and a bag of tricks and a list to explain the items in the bag, to help tone down the inevitable screaming.
Nobody pretended she didn't.  It would have been futile.

BUT: she had fun, and didn't cry until later in the evening, so this is better than anticipated.  My in-laws are remarkably warm and loving with their grandkids and totally game to take on four Vose kids for as long and as often as we will let them.  They carry our crying babies, feed them breastmilk in bottles even though it kind of grosses them out, change cloth diapers, and beg for more at the end of the day.  Woot!  Three cheers for family, man.  I'm so lucky.  One of the tricks in the bag is television, never EVER paint yourself into a corner with small things, man, because this kid will stop crying if you put this one Baby Mozart DVD (Baby Dolittle; it is the puppets she loves) and I would massively judge myself if I were anyone else for quieting my baby with t.v.  But it works.  Tonight it bought me ten minutes to roll meatballs with my bare hands: hello, my husband works 12 hour shifts plus 40 to 50 minutes commute time each way, sometimes I need to roll meatballs and velcro child will not stop screaming at my feet.  Ten minutes of Baby Einstein seems more humane.

So the kids went off with gramma in her truck, and we scrambled to get to Vancouver in time for dinner reservations.  The drive was a bit tense; traffic was ridiculous.  But once we got there, luck was on our side with parking, dinner was fabulous, we walked to the concert, and we had wicked awesome seats.  The concert was amaaaaaaaazing!!!!!




These guys rock

(photo credit: straight.com)

We had so much fun.  The music was fantastic, the air was remarkably clear of weed smoking, and the fact that we were on a date was so wonderful.  Afterwards we met up with four old friends from university, and went out for drinks.  We laughed so much!  It was like old times... We didn't get home until 2:30 in the morning (we swung by my in-law's place to pick up the baby in case of late night nursing needs and because I'm so not ready to spend an entire night apart from her).  Wow.  It was like we were young again, out til late doing something artsy!  Hooray!!!  It was blissful.

And Death Cab is amazing.  The lead singer (Ben something) has this remarkable voice which is SO strong and flexible, with incredible range~he is very talented.  Verrrry.  His voice doesn't fit his looks; he's kind of waiflike and thin, very artsy and understated, and his voice commands attention in a way that doesn't match his body.  All four of the musicians in Death Cab are wildly talented, and play several instruments.  They interchanged throughout the show, and at one point they jammed for, like, fifteen minutes and cycled through drums, bass, acoustic and electric, keyboard, and more drums, and it was one of the most beautiful musical conversations I've ever seen.  So cool.  And all of them are hot.  Ter than hell.

WOOT!  I loooooved this concert and the entire date.  And my hubs, who was so happy to be out with his wife, doing something he loves, listening to a band he loves.  It was so wonderful.


And now I'm off to watch Sister Wives...

Hibernation

Amber at Strocel.com wrote a beautiful post on the approaching winter~I thought I would share it with you!  She lives just across the bridge from me, so our climates and geography are the same.  Enjoy!  I have heard that this coming winter is supposed to be one of our coldest in a very long time.  The year Riley was born (which is the same year Strocel's Jacob was born, and Louise's Koen, and Torie's Addie, and Jen's Michella, to name a few of the many three year olds running around these days...) there was a shitload of snow.  In our area we are lucky to get a few centimeters each winter, which lasts 24 to 48 hours, and repeats itself once or twice.  I say 'lucky' because I love snow.  I grew up in a snowy zone;



I can't figure out how to draw a circle around my 'zone' but it is about mid bottom, four dots up.  Anything aside from Vancouver Island and the coastal zone is your typical snowy Canadian climate.  When it snows, it is bright because of all that white to reflect what light happens to be around (between 11 and 1, you know, especially in the dead of winter; I can clearly remember walking to catch the bus to school in the morning before the sun rose, and walking back in the afternoon after the sun set.  Not as bad as winter in the Yukon or something, but still no Florida holiday).  Snow is fun to play with and much drier than rain, and often facilitates blue skies once the snow has fallen.

Anyways, the winter of 2008/09 we got months of several feet of snow!  It was crazy.  And cold.  This coming winter is supposed to be even colder!  I'm not sure about the precipitation forecast but I'm willing to bet we will get some snow to go along with our cold.  Yippee!

Anyways.  Strocel.  Good read!

Can You Say Amazing?

This week I bought a pair of really nice jeans, regular $44.98, for $6.23.
I.  AM.  AWESOME.

They were on clearance for $10 and we had a coupon for a further savings, bringing the total WITH TAX to $6.23.

There just isn't anything much better than THEM APPLES!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

7 Years Old!




This post is long overdue!!  Matthew turned seven on September 20th, and had a wonderful birthday.  His actual birthday was a school day, and his party was on the Sunday following his birthday, and we had sixteen children and various adults at our house for a Bey Blades themed birthday.  It was wild!  I invited a few of Matthew's friends and some declined because of hockey, so I panicked a little and might have invited a few too many in case more people said no!  And then last minute I remembered Matthew's foster brother who lives in Richmond with his family, and they made it out, so all told we had tons of kids.  At first I thought, uh-oh, this is going to be ridiculous, but in actual fact it was quite reasonable, and fun for everyone!  It rained, and then hailed, and then the sun came out... So the backyard was kind of soggy but there was some trampoline fun during the sunny bits.  And then our playroom was put to good use, hot dogs were had, and ice cream cake was presented, complete with sparklers...


On Matthew's actual birthday we had spaghetti, and they went
a little nuts... This is 100% raw Matthew!  In action!
Ready to charm anyone...
Matthew is our charmer.  He is good with kids, adults, dogs, boys, girls, random strangers, and the odd alien or bald eagle that comes his way.  He's hysterically funny [When he's not driving us nuts] and full of personality.  His hearing problems have resolved, speech and language delays and pathologies almost entirely disappeared, urology issues decreased [although I think he will always live with symptoms of an irritable bladder, and nighttime is still an issue], and he is maturing.  He stretches us all, as individuals and as a family, and continually reminds us to enjoy life, and always look on the bright side.  He loves his teacher, Ms H, and his Montessori style classroom at school.  He's an excellent helper~from cutting veggies to entertaining the baby, he has a naturally helpful and cheerful nature.  And he's as cute as a waterbug.  He weighs 38 pounds and is three feet tall (106 cm).

Likes:
-Bakugan, Pokemon, Star Wars paraphernalia (he hasn't seen the movie itself), Bey Blades, Lego, toy soldiers, marbles, Ben Ten, and Club Penguin
-soccer
-his baby sister
-trampoline time
-wrestling
-camping
-riding his scooter (he's still wary of his bike and will always favour his scooter)
-wrangling candies, privledges, treats, and prizes
-sleepovers with gramma and grampa
-hands on toys and activities
-climbing trees
-playing in the ravine at the park with his brother and a neighbourhood buddy
-getting dirty, muddy, dusty, and wet

Dislikes;
-anything 'girly'
-academic endeavours
-bathing
-missing out on anything fun


We love you, Matthew!  You are a character, and you sparkle.  It's fabulous.  I always think of your birth mom and pray for her on your birthday; I know she loves you so much and that your birthday must be a hard day for her, when she especially misses you.  She gave you, and us, a remarkable gift by giving you up; a gift we never take for granted.  You're awesome, and we love you.  I love you.  You're a blessing to have around and I'm so glad you are in my life, and that I get to be your mom and watch your life and your personality unfold.  Every month that goes by you get more and more mature and amazing and fun, and it gets even more rewarding to be your parent.  I admire your spunk, tenacity, courage, and resilience.  Never lose your sparkle, baby.

xo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happenings

Since early October Amarys has been cruising along furniture, and about a week and a half ago, she let go and stood on her own for a few seconds.  And the next day she did it again.  As my friend Kelsey would say,
Lie down on the floor and act like a baby!
Ayden walked at 8 months and Riley at 10 months; it looks like this girl might beat them both.  Sheesh.  Part of me is proud of her for figuring out this moving around business, of course; it's always cool to watch your baby achieve milestones.  But the other part is kinda sad that she's growing up too fast.  Le sigh.  I was just telling a friend yesterday that you don't have to be sad when your babies grow up, because thus far they are just as enjoyable in each stage, but in different ways~but now I can't take my own *wise* words to heart!  She's just growing up too fast!

In the sleep department she has settled down, and is surprising me with her napping.  Once I started focusing on naps (and lets face it, I could say WE, but it would be lying: dad might be more motivated if it were HIS boob the baby wanted to tug and pull and scratch at every hour all. night. long. but as it stands he could care less what the baby is doing, sleep wise) Amarys' body rhythm settled into a predictable schedule and her naps have lengthened significantly.  The other day she slept three and a half hours!  Predictably similar to her bio brothers, she dropped her third nap quite early on, and once she could depend on a scheduled nap time she dropped the second one and just amalgamated them all into one, long nap with five to seven hour stretches of awake time in between.  And only one night waking.  WOOT!  I'm a convert; The No Cry Sleep Solution is the best shower gift for any new parent, hands down.  Best recommendation ever.  And nobody is paying me anything to say that, I swear.

We had Brent's birthday celebration yesterday evening; his birthday was last Saturday but he was working 3:30 to 3:30 so aside from being ridiculous and doing something special for breakfast (decidedly not morning people), we invited his family over and got take out Vietnamese food and had a big feast.  I forgot to bake him a cake or anything, so it was just the dinner part, but it was yummy!  The plan was to eat Thai but the Thai restaurant in our area was closed for a family emergency so we went with Plan B.  It was an excellent feast, and good to celebrate Mr. Awesome Pants, a.k.a. my newly ancient hubs.  He's in his 'late thirties' now at the ripe old age of 36.  I'm thinking of trading him in for a newer model; what do you think?  The current model is so dependable.  And handsome.  You really can't top it.

In related news, in a few weeks there will be no more possibility for more tiny Voses running around.  On the one hand, I'm slightly panicked because there won't be the possibility for more babies!  But on the other hand, I'm very excited because there won't be the possibility for more babies.  ;-/
Without doing something permanent, though, we are tempting fate.  All Brent has to do is sneeze on me and we get pregnant, so spending the rest of my fertile years counting days and worrying for the entire second half of my cycles is unappealing.

We LOVE babies, so it's hard to say goodbye to that phase of our life, though!  But it's a good time.  We're finishing on a good note, with a very peaceful last birth, two VBACs, four gorgeous and smart kids, an even number, and a 'small' enough family to fit inside a minivan.  [Or a Nissan Pathfinder with a third row; that's kind of my dream car right now...]

In other news, my best friend called me the day before yesterday and cried because there was no one in her life to make her birthday special, and then yesterday on her actual birthday I forgot to call her.  BAD FRIEND AWARD, RIGHT HERE!!  Fortunately our third best friend (we're weird and are a group rather than a pair) stepped it up and invited her over for dinner, so all was not lost.  How awful is it to remember THAT the day after?  That was punishment enough.  Blerg.  I kept remembering all day yesterday but my phone was dead so I kept thinking I would do it at home and getting distracted by my eleventybillion children when we were at home.  Ack!  She's cool though.  She forgave me.  She laughed.  Phew.  Long, lonely future absent of friends is NOT on the horizon....

=)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

At The Risk of Boring You [or perhaps bumming you out]

I've got some more to say on being crazy, and specifically on postpartum issues.  Through the blog party I participated in and the Strong Start Day blog posts I read, I discovered this website called Postpartum Progress.  It is THE website on PPD/A and has won many awards for the blog itself and for individual articles.  It is EXCELLENT.  I wish I had found it EIGHT YEARS AGO, and especially six years ago, it would have changed my life.  Much quicker than it actually changed.  It would have accelerated my healing and my ability to feel connected to others experiencing the same things.


At any rate, I read through a bunch of the resources on that site and I have to say I was blown away by this particular list of postpartum depression and anxiety symptoms translated into plain english.  Even after years of education and treatment and researching and becoming stable, I still learned some fundamental things from this list.  If you are a postpartum mother, know one, or might someday become one, this resource is really important.  PPD is something that none of us think we're going to need to know about or deal with [yet of course some of us will], and it's something it is helpful to have tools for recognizing and reaching out before it ever happens to us.  Not in a self fulfilling prophecy kind of way, but in an arm thyself just so you could help someone else [or maybe even perhaps yourself] kind of way.  JUST in case.


Here's the list.  I put in bold the symptoms I experienced in an overwhelming capacity after we adopted Matthew, which is when my PPD/A was the most out of control.  I write a lot about my PPA after Riley was born because (a) it is more recent, (b) it was when I got helpful treatment, and (c) it is less painful for me to talk about, but in actual fact my disorder was far more out of control after we brought Matthew home.  Here goes:




You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:
  • > You feel overwhelmed.  Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.”  More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.”  You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother.  In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
  • > You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this.  You feel like your baby deserves better.  You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would.  You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
  • > You don’t feel bonded to your baby.  You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines.
  • > You can’t understand why this is happening.  You are very confused and scared.
  • > You feel irritated or angry.  You have no patience.  Everything annoys you.  You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies.  You feel out-of-control rage.
  • > You feel nothing.  Emptiness and numbness.  You are just going through the motions.
  • > You feel sadness to the depths of your soul.  You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
  • > You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better.  You feel weak and defective.  You feel like a failure.
  • > You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
  • > You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time.  Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are.  Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done.  Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
  • > You can’t concentrate.  You can’t focus.  You can’t think of the words you want to say.  You can’t remember what you were supposed to do.  You can’t make a decision.  You feel like you’re in a fog.
  • > You feel disconnected.  You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there’s an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
  • > Maybe you’re doing everything right.  You are exercising.  You are taking your vitamins.  You have a healthy spirituality.  You do yoga.  You’re thinking “Why can’t I just get over this?”   You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
  • > You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind.  Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
  • > You know something is wrong.  You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right.  You think you’ve “gone crazy”.
  • > You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
  • > You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you.  Or that your baby will be taken away.
You may have postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:
  • > Your thoughts are racing.  You can’t quiet your mind.  You can’t settle down.  You can’t relax.
  • > You feel like you have to be doing something at all times.  Cleaning bottles.  Cleaning baby clothes.  Cleaning the house.  Doing work.  Entertaining the baby.  Checking on the baby.
  • > You are worried.  Really worried.  All. The. Time.  Am I doing this right?  Will my husband come home from his trip?  Will the baby wake up?  Is the baby eating enough?  Is there something wrong with the baby that I’m missing?  No matter what anyone says to reassure you it doesn’t help.
  • > You may be having disturbing thoughts.  Thoughts that you’ve never had before.  Scary thoughts that make you wonder whether you aren’t the person you thought you were.  They fly into your head unwanted and you know they aren’t right, that this isn’t the real you, but they terrify you and they won’t go away.  These thoughts may start with the words “What if …”
  • > You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of the thoughts.  You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.
  • > You have to check things constantly.  Did I lock the door?  Did I lock the car?  Did I turn off the oven?  Is the baby breathing?
  • > You may be having physical symptoms like stomach cramps or headaches, shakiness or nausea.  You might even have panic attacks.
  • > You feel like a captive animal, pacing back and forth in a cage.  Restless.  On edge.
  • > You can’t eat.  You have no appetite.
  • > You can’t sleep.  You are so, so tired, but you can’t sleep.
  • > You feel a sense of dread all the time, like something terrible is going to happen.
  • > You know something is wrong.  You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right.  You think you’ve “gone crazy”.
  • > You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
  • > You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you.  Or that your baby will be taken away.
Now that you’ve gone through these lists are you thinking “How the heck does this lady know me? Is there a hidden camera in here?”  Nope.  What this should tell you is that you are NOT alone and you are NOT a freak and you are NOT highly unusual.  If you are having these feelings and symptoms then it is possible you are experiencing common illnesses that 15 to 20% of new mothers have, and they are completely treatable.  Just reach out for help
 Okay so I also made those symptoms red.  Looking back on what had happened I had figured what I had was postpartum anxiety with Matthew and with Riley but looking at this list it is fairly obvious I had postpartum depression after Matthew came home.
A word on PPD/A and adoption; it happens.  It is not the hormones that cause PPD/A but rather the drastic socio-emotional shift of having a baby.  In fact, women who adopt often have wrestled with depression over infertility for years and past depressive episodes are a risk factor for PPD.  I'd be willing to bet my life on the fact that many, many adoptive moms struggle with this and go completely undiagnosed, totally missed by any health professional, family members, community group, or support people because the child is adopted, there are no hormones at play, and besides doesn't this woman want this baby so much more than your average woman wants a baby?!  I read a good book called Post Adoption Blues a year or two afterwards, and felt it was an important topic that needs more attention.  Anyways.  Rabbit trail.
If I do the same exercise with my experience after Riley was born, most of the bold red would be in the second list.  In fact, all of the points in the second list would be red.  And a few in the first.  I didn't know that anger could be a manifestation of depression, and I remember at the time thinking, I'm not depressed because I don't feel SAD.  I feel ANGRY!  And I don't know WHY!
Angry and guilty.  My guilt feelings would spin around in my head so fast and furious that they would elicit anger, and then I would feel guilty that I felt so angry and didn't feel much love or many soft, warm feelings for this child in my home, my family, my arms... And I felt just as terrible if we had a good day than if we had a bad day.  It was horrific.  I experienced a profound shift in my sense of identity which I still struggle with, because I faced a very dark side of myself that I didn't know existed, and wish emphatically that I had never met.  I had a hard time seeing myself as a good person, and shifted my self concept from a good parent (when I had just Ayden) to a very bad parent within the span of three weeks.  I had the biggest emotional whiplash imaginable, and that guilt morphed into this very big personal demon who controlled me for years afterwards.  I've written at length about my struggles with guilt, and this list shines a light on the beginning of that story.
It turns out that angry and don't know why is a depression symptom.  WHO KNEW?!  Not I, said the crazy fly.  But now I do.
I'm so glad (so glad doesn't even begin to touch on the extent of my relief and joy) that this is over with.  I was thinking today that that first eight months in particular of my experience after bringing home my baby was the worst thing that has ever happened.  Not HIM, but my emotional unbalance.  I wish I could go back and reclaim those months, and experience that little bit of his childhood and baby-ness without the fog, but much of it I cannot remember.  I only remember the worst of my anger and confusion, and some doctor's visits for mundane things.  That's very normal with postpartum depression; women often feel like they missed out on a portion of their child's life even though they were very much physically present for it.  But there is an element of relief in knowing that the worst bit of your life is behind you.  Seriously, nothing that I can conceive of ever happening to me or in me or around me could be worse than that time in my life.  Nothing.
[I'm tempting fate.]  [Another anxious thought that happens to be a particular weakness of mine]
AND it is interesting to note that I believe I had Postpartum Anxiety AND Postpartum OCD after Riley was born.  OCD is simply an extreme manifestation of anxiety, whereby the compulsions are used as coping mechanisms for overwhelming anxiety.  I had compulsions but they were slightly atypical; checking and rechecking, counting, rituals, etc, that were silent and didn't really interfere too much with my ability to function; but they were there.  And once I dealt with my underlying out of control anxiety, they went away.  It is amazing now to think about how strongly I believed that those rituals were keeping my family alive.  Whew.  Totally crazy (in more than one sense of the word).
I could be wrong, of course; doesn't every hypochondriac self diagnose from what they read on the internet?  But my intuition tells me I'm right.  And so does my stability now, and my body's response to treatment.  If the treatment doesn't fit the diagnosis, it won't cure the disease.  Not that I'm cured.  HA!  Not by a long shot.  But I'm stable.  My moods are, for this season of my life, well controlled.  Not perfect: I just had a two week long fight against a sad, weighty depression recently and it freaked me out.  The difference is that I can recognize these early and be proactive about them, so hopefully I will not spiral so far out of control again.
Let me also just say that there are a bajillion women who struggle with this (and other) form of mental illness and treatments for them are as varied as the women themselves.  I'm an advocate of cognitive behavioural therapy, naturopathic remedies, pharmaceuticals, group therapy, hospitalization, light therapy, diet changes: you name it.  If it keeps you alive, healthy, balanced, and functional, IT ROCKS.  The longer I live with this disease, the more I know this to be true, and the more open minded I become regarding treatments.  Also, a treatment may work for a time and then stop working, and need tweaking.
At any rate, Postpartum Progress.  Good resource.  Enough said.


***sorry about the stupid formatting/font issues.  i can't fix them.  they are driving me nuts***

Thankful

Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  Generally, because my in-laws mostly live in the same town we do, we go to their place for Thanksgiving and other non-Christmas holidays (because long weekends are just no longer quite long enough to pack up and relocate, plus our families have so many shift workers in them that coordinating days off and holidays and weekends is a huge headache).  Wonderful turkey dinner and family time, with very little work.  We usually bring one dish.

This year however, my in-laws went out of town, so we were kind of Left to Our Own Devices... *GASP*
The result was that we decided to do a big turkey/ham dinner thing on the Monday and invite friends; we did this one other year and LOVED it.  Lotsa fun, no family politics, GOOD FOOD.  Score one all around.  So we invited a few friends, and then a few more, and then a few family members straggled into town and we invited them too, and in the end we had 20 people in our little house!  =)  It was fabulous.  I really think it was my best thanksgiving yet, but I say that every year.





A few things I am thankful for this year;

-Amarys.  She completes our family, rounds out the testosterone, makes demands, and is so stinking cute she makes it hard to be finished having babies.

-Matthew.  Every year that goes by it is hard to believe how big he is, how far he has come, and how enjoyable his personality is.  The older he gets, the more enjoyable it is to be with him because his personality is so sparkly.  This past year he started initiating affection with me for the first time, and for this I'm incredibly grateful.

-Ayden.  He is so helpful and patient with his siblings, he really is a remarkably good big brother.  He is also very interesting to talk to, and has these fully formed opinions on things that are well thought!  He's also very trustworthy.

-Riley.  He's our 'Tiny Tim' of the Vose family.  He's flexible, easy going, sweet, quiet, curious, and SO enthusiastic about everything.  He reminds me so much of Brent, because very little can ever ruffle his feathers.  He is a healer of hurts, and makes everyone around him more gentle and relaxed in his presence.

-Brent.  Partner in crime.  Love story of the century.  Remarkably funny and good looking.  Very few faults.  Shoulders an enormous load without hesitation.  Messy as hell.

-Our little big house.  1800 square feet of luxurious space, 4 bedrooms, a yard; I will never take our detached house for granted, after so long (and so many of us) in a townhouse for so long.  For a farm kid, that was a stretch.

-Health!  My grandma, my aunts, my mom: those who had or are at risk of developing breast cancer and are now healthy!!  My kids are all here, reasonably healthy aside from allergies and the odd issue here and there, and growing like weeds physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I am healthy, well balanced emotionally, and SO grateful not to have developed postpartum anxiety this time.  My hubs is healthy.

-Community.  We have put down roots in our church.  The kids' school is amazing.  Our family and friends are a big part of our lives and help us, and we help them.  It's pretty cool.  And my online village is expanding greatly, too.

-Grace.  Growth.  Development.  Forgiveness.  Peace.  These have been big words that have left large footprints on my life in the past five years, and I'm grateful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Shenanigans

After school reading practice

Riley made a fort on our mini trampoline, in an apple box

This popped up in my front garden, unexpectedly
Isn't it pretty?

Tandem nursing shots


Dinner helpers

I taught Ayden how to make tacos;
he's very proud and I'm very happy
to have helpers for cooking tasks
(delegates, not assistants!  Hip, hip, hooray!)

Dressed up for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2011!  So many things to be thankful for...

No matter what, her hair is pretty spikey

Alien ears courtesy of the bro