Who is Peeking In On Your Worst Mommy Moments?

While we’re all on good behavior most of the time out in public, you know that there are a select few closest to you that see you let it all hang out with your kids. But hold up. What about the people that see the worst version of you that you don’t really think about? Yikes right? Yeah-think about that for a second.

Recently, I had some God awful upper respiratory virus with some body aches sprinkled in and while I called out sick to work, I still had to drag my butt out of bed and drive my kids to school because we can’t call out sick to the Mom job. My husband goes into work early this day of the week, so I am always on drop off duty this particular day.

I ran through the how-to-get-my-sick-achey-bod-out-of-bed scenarios in my head: Did I have the energy to grab a baseball hat? Nope, that would require standing on my tippy toes to reach it  in the closet-even my toes hurt.

If it wasn’t on the top of my closet area, it would likely be buried at the bottom of my closet, which meant I would need to dig for it. This equals bending over -nope definitely can’t bend over with my head full of all this mucus and all this achiness. Did I mention the aching? .

How greasy was my hair? I would look in the mirror and decide.

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How would I get dressed? Leave pajama top on-it’s not too noticeable. Will somehow finagle pulling jeans on. Maybe the kids could help me pull them on? I lugged my body around like a ton of bricks and ever so slowly got the jeans on, slipped shoes on, and opted for combing my hair through twice and walking out the door.

Due to getting out the door being the biggest pain in the booty with my two kids, I often open the door as the “indicator” that we’re about to head out. I figure my kids will someday recognize this open door  symbol and skip their way to the car, get in, and buckle up with smiles on their faces and halos over their heads. A woman can dream right?

When I opened the door to set the “indicator” that we were getting ready to leave, I noticed it was a beautiful day and my neighbor had her windows open. On the way out the door, I went to scoop up my son’s folder and put his homework in it.  Then I saw a late library book notice from the school. It was $70 if we did not return the books.  The two most expensive books had been in his backpack for a month.  What was even more maddening was he had been reminded every single day to return the books by Yours Truly.   I was trying to shout at him with my newfound sore-throat man voice and hobbled like Quasimoto to his room where I started crazily tossing books from his bookcase. Dammit-I was going to find the other late books that were not in his backpack. This may have looked like the wire hanger scene from Mommy Dearest- just with books flying everywhere and me shouting at the bookcase like it had just murdered someone. Oh yeah…and…our windows were open.

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Take two of trying muddle out the door and my 4 year old son decides he doesn’t want to get in the car.  He circles the car. He goes left then I go right and vice versa.

I start repeating over and over getting louder each time, “Mommy doesn’t feel good. Mommy doesn’t feel good. MOMMY DOESN’T FEEL GOOD!” I was hoping if I kept saying that he’d feel bad and finally get in the car.

Aaaaand now he’s headed for the flower garden.  He’s going to play with the flowers in the garden and run back and forth from the flowers to the car. When he makes it to the car he’s going to write his name in the condensation on the window- because why not? To a 4 year old, we have ALL the time in the world.  I wish buddy.

He’s hysterically laughing of course. Really? Mamma don’t play that right about now. Mamma wants to be IN BED. What probably sounded and looked so cute to everyone else on the planet including my neighbors felt like hell. My pounding headache felt like it was talking at me,  “Must… get water.. Must… find bed.  Must… lie down.”

With my Pee-Wee Herman meets Wolfman voice I growl at my son to “Get. In.The.Car.” The scary voice works.

As I lean down to buckle him into his booster seat, the car door (which is not fully propped open) begins to close just in time to double-combo smack me in the head and shoulder.  F***!

You know when something hurts so bad like stepping on a lego, or hitting your head on something, or stubbing your toe? And you know that  hot and angry feeling you get just as the pain sets in? YEP. That was this moment. I think I did some version swearing, and kicking the  car door. Whatever I did, I’m sure I looked nuts.

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With spring being here and summer fast approaching, both sets of my neighbors on either side of our house have their windows open more often than not. It dawned on me that my neighbors must think I am the mother from HELL. They hear the worst version of this mom right here every…single…day whenever I am trying to get my kids into the car. And this day was particularly worse than those days because of how bad this virus was kicking my butt.

My absolute least favorite time of each day when the worst version of myself is visiting is when I am attempting to get my sons into the car to go somewhere. It’s typically a 5 to 10 minute fiasco with lots of shouting. And oh how I hate a nag! But to BE one…that’s worse. When it’s time to get in the car – it’s time for The Nagmeister.

I’ll have to sprinkle in a “Good Job” or an “I love you” the next time one of my kids gets their butt into the car without a hassle just so my neighbors realize I’m not Mommy Dearest all the time. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. My kids don’t get into the car until I start shouting. It was a cute thought while it lasted.

On Writing

Some insight into why writing feels right…

Everyone’s story is different. For that reason, there is something so satisfying about indulging in a good biography.  Fiction and non-fiction narratives that tell stories of the character’s arc are forever fascinating for the human mind. We can learn from someone else’s experiences; empathizing, marveling, relating, or grieving while reading what they’ve suffered, lost, overcome, or endured. As someone who thoroughly enjoys hearing and reading about others’ lives whether it’s over a beer, a coffee, a blog, or pages of a book, I discovered there is much to be enjoyed when writing about life as well.

I’ve always kept a journal. My parents gave me my first one at the age of 7. You could say there’s enough material to write at least 3 books!  Whether or not they’d be interesting is debatable. But I did take some time over the last few days to read through them and wow…what a trip. The details are long forgotten. That’s why writing in a journal is key should you ever want to harken back to the days of your youth.  Let me tell you-it zaps  you right inside that very moment that would have otherwise been lost in the Bumbletown of your waning memory.

In my mid-twenties I took a memoir writing course and when the class ended my professor made me promise to someday write a book about my life.  She also mentioned that if it never came to fruition, to always keep writing.  Her advice has long hung out in my conscience. She also warned it was probably best to write a memoir prior to having children because time would be scarce. She had written her book with two small children and cautioned it was tough to do so. Well, I didn’t listen to her and damn was she right. At any rate,  my chance at writing did eventually show up, even if in an unexpected way.

In 2009, I started a Facebook group for working moms. I wanted to meet other moms to build relationships and coordinate play dates on the weekends. Fast forward to early 2016 when an editor of an online blogging publication www.suburbanmisfitmom.com posted an ad in my working moms group looking for writers. A few weeks later my first and very personal article was published on my inconsistent childhood read it here.

There was a crazy waterfall of emotions that occurred when my first article had been published. I was sitting in morning rush hour traffic when the “You’ve Been Published” notification came through. Just picture Diane Lane in that bus scene in the movie Unfaithful. That was me.

Instead of dipping my toe in, I dove head first and opened up in the only way I know how when I write. It was scary but exhilarating.

Following the high of being published came the mystery of how certain people interacted with me after reading about my personal not-so-sunny experiences. Surprisingly,  whether they are close to you, an acquaintance, or a complete stranger- each reaction is different and some are not even close to what you would expect. Sometimes it’s confusing and off-putting and other times it’s gratifying and motivating. Either way, writing felt right regardless of some of the mixed reactions.

As the reader, when reading autobiographical content, I try to keep in mind that this is the writer’s experience. This is their truth and their life.  On the other hand, as the writer, you have to remember that people will interpret things in a completely different way than you meant them to and they will also project their own stuff onto it whether you like it or not.  This projection will then lead them to act in confusing ways towards you. Lord knows I’ve spent many midnights in an anxiety ridden sweat fest over-analyzing this very thing. This is the part no one can prepare you for as the writer.  I certainly wasn’t prepared for it, and I contemplated not continuing writing for a beat or two because of it.

Thankfully, I ended up pushing the nerves of vulnerability aside. Why? Because I honestly feel writing is a necessary thing for me.   Also, who wouldn’t want a hobby that feels right, makes the brain feel like it’s being put to good use, and that has the ability to  help people?

This is one of the most fulfilling hobbies. I feel just as giddy when I write as I do when I take a dance class. For example, in my article about getting lost and happy , I discuss the immense gratification I get from dancing and putting my creative side to work.  This very same feeling transpires when I write. To have connected with these two passions and made them part of my weekly routine -this is living life.

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Writing is also therapeutic for me in many ways. It’s a connection to people and a way to show why I have an appreciation for my life that runs deep. The foundation for many of my writings is derived from an epiphany I had after becoming a mom. I came to the stark realization that I would and will do everything in my power to give my children a better experience. This means throwing out the script. ERASE AND REBOOT.  It also means I have to unlearn a lot. That’s not going to be easy. But writing about my unlearnings  will be interesting for me to say the least.

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There’s an appreciation transaction that occurs every day that I pull into my little white ranch with my beloved testosterone-filled family.  The reason that transaction even takes place is because of  the bumpy road I pedaled on to get there.   Most of the time, the stuff that really hurts us, is the stuff that allows us to grow into who we are.  I am choosing to use the cuts that may have a lingering sting as a source to better this life in the NOW. And so far, at least today, it’s a feel good story.

 

 

 

The Paths We Take

One of my favorite movies is Sliding Doors (1998) with Gwyneth Paltrow as the lead role. The movie takes us through her life in two ways. One half of the film shows how her life unfolds when she makes the train, the other half of the movie is what happens when she misses the train. I think the reason I love this movie so much is because it’s both timeless and incredibly thought provoking.

It’s fascinating to think about the many different paths life can take. Recently, I had the pleasure of  hanging out with various old friends whom I haven’t seen in awhile. The conversations were some of the most interesting I’ve had in a long time. I felt an immense amount of admiration while hearing some of their stories. Career accomplishments they’ve made these last few years, some had bucket list trips they had taken or are about to take, others were growing their families or had just bought their first home.  Some of them had started out with very little and have ended up quite successful. Others needed some help along the way due to the economic crash and had finally felt like they’d turned a corner. Some were living back under their parent’s roof and have now purchased their own homes and are more appreciative than ever of what they can now call their own. Watching people grow over the years and seeing who they become is one of the beautiful things in life.

Most people don’t see themselves as extraordinary.  Meanwhile, if they only knew how far they’ve come! As the listener, hearing these stories made my heart grow two-fold. People are out there working hard at life and damn, I want them to know these unique paths they’re on are all a pretty big deal! People need to take a moment and reflect on where they were 5 years ago versus where they are now. Be proud. Seriously. You’re killin’ it!

I look at my husband and how hard he has worked on his business. The path he chose actually lead us to Connecticut. That was my Sliding Doors moment: to stay in Chicago or not to stay. My path forked and while I was unsure about starting over again, I was sure I was in love, so I took a leap of faith.

These paths we all take aren’t 100% ours though. In part we owe thanks to the supporters that said the things we needed to hear or maybe the things we didn’t want to hear to make it to where we are.

Looking back on the night before I moved, my mother said some words of encouragement to me. She was probably wondering how I would be across the country, on my own with my boyfriend of only 5 months, no job lined up, a roommate I didn’t know yet, and so much uncertainty that lay ahead of me.  As it turns out, if she was nervous about my choice, she did not let on that she was. Instead she was excited for me, she told me she was convinced I would marry this guy, that she felt it was the right call, and that it was pretty awesome I’d be living near a beach and not too far from New York City. She 100% supported my decision. It was just the boost I needed to go forth and see what was in store for the next chapter of my life.

So here I am on Chapter 37 of my life and that little decision I made turns out to have been one of the best.

It got me thinking about the decisions my sons will make and where their lives might take them.

The other day I pulled into our driveway and both my sons were dancing out front. They had a little speaker set up (thank you bluetooth) and a sign taped to the speaker that said “Please give us Money”. After I stopped laughing at their cute creative way to make a dollar, I quietly watched them. I don’t know how long I stood there, but I tried to encapsulate the moment.

I took in their blonde fluffy hair, their face expressions, and their moves while jamming out with wild abandon. I thought about the men they will grow to eventually be. How will they choose to spend their days? Will they live far away from us? Will they want to call us or have nothing to do with us?  I wondered if they would choose to be married or stay single, to travel the world, or settle down and have families. Most of all I wondered if as their parent I could somehow bottle this carefree happiness that they embodied in this moment and make sure it stays part of them into adulthood.

For now, while they are young, it’ll be fun to talk about what they want to do or be or what they like and don’t like.  And then of course when they’re teenagers I can look forward to making them watch Sliding Doors with me. I’m very much looking forward to that.

Nursing Wounds

babymamaWe have all heard or read about those fairytale stories on the bonding that comes with breast-feeding your newborn. While I was pregnant, I  wondered if that would be my experience. It was exciting to look forward to all of the unknowns that having a baby would bring. Little did I know the act of feeding my son would become what I dreaded the most every day as a new mom.

When I was wheeled in to meet my new baby ( I had him via C-section), I could not wait to snuggle and take in everything about the first moments. The nurse lifted him and placed him on my chest and helped to get him into position as most new mothers appreciate. I waited for something to happen. Not much did. The first latch was not comfortable and much to my baby’s dismay nothing was happening. I tried and tried to get the milk to flow, but my efforts were fruitless and I started to feel anxious.

A few hours later, I felt like Pamela Anderson.  I became engorged. I’ll save all of the unpleasant details of this since it was not pretty. In a nutshell, two nurses tried willfully to assist me while my husband shared some terse words with them. Things were getting pretty tense in the room. The nurses were rushing around the room and running down the list of things they could try to get the milk to come out. Hot compresses and pushing down on them did nothing. Eventually they had to have me pump and give my baby some formula since my milk seemed forever stuck.  My husband and I felt really stressed during this time because our baby was crying so hard and was clearly very hungry. The pain was searing. Thankfully, the pump worked wonders and I had some relief. I also began using a shield (which I think is one of the best inventions) since the latch was also so painful.

I attended one of the hospital’s new mom gatherings to learn how to bathe my baby and ask questions about any issues I was having. It seemed my breastfeeding troubles were quite common, and they assured me that soon I would be well on my way to smooth feedings.

A few days after returning home with my newborn, once again, I was in a lot of pain in my chest. A fever showed up and I felt as though moving my body and even carrying the baby was really difficult. I called a lactation consultant. She told me I had mastitis. This is when a milk duct becomes clogged and infected. You pretty much have  flu-like symptoms- chills, fever, and a sharp, cutting, shooting  razor blade feeling all throughout your chest. The internet will tell you it may last for 48 hours but every time I had it, it lasted for 4 days at a minimum.

After the storm of engorgement and mastitis cleared, I thought I was through the woods and that  I might be onto having those blissful nursing moments with my child that I had heard so much about. I would come to find out I was being overly optimistic.

Something was actually very off when I would nurse.

Each time the milk would let down, there be an avalanche of anxiety that would come with it. I began to dread when each feeding was approaching because of symptoms that followed.

I started to pay close attention to what was happening to me each time the let down began. First came the extreme thirst, then the hollow homesick feeling, then the feeling of wanting to close my eyes or drop my head, then a blanket of sadness so thick that the need to cry out in complete despair would overtake me. It was like I had taken a pill that made me feel concentrated grief. Then the worst part of the roller coaster would come- the self loathing. The feeling that there was nothing to live for. The feeling that  I did not deserve this child let alone deserve to be a mother. And then just like that, as soon as these negative emotions would come over me, they would vanish. I would snap back to life; content and calm while holding my baby and nursing him.

After a growth spurt night of marathon feedings every hour and feeling these wretched emotions 5 or 6 times throughout the night, I decided it was time to go in and see my midwife. Something was certainly not right.

My midwife thought it sounded  like post partum, but she did agree it was strange that it was only surrounding the times I would nurse.

I went home feeling depressed and wondering how I would ever get through this. At the good advice of a friend, I called the lactation consultant and she said she’d be right over.

She came right over and within 2 minutes of talking to me, she said, “You have D-MER. Otherwise known as Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex”.

What in the world was D-MER?

She explained it as a misfire in the brain. Hormones have a job when you breastfeed: oxytocin pushes the milk out to begin let down while prolactin (the milk-making hormone) goes up. Prolactin cannot go up unless dopamine comes down.    People with D-MER have a different chemical reaction with those hormones- specifically dopamine. Instead of the dopamine slowly going down, it drastically plummets during let down.  In someone with D-MER,  because the dopamine is dropping so rapidly, it causes a despondent or anxiety laced reaction.

According to D-MER.org, D-MER follows the same pattern as any other reflex. You can tell yourself your knee isn’t going to jerk when you hit it… but it does, just as much the hundredth time as it does the first, and it stops as soon as the stimulus stops. D-MER is physiological, not psychological. It is hormones, not past experience or repressed memories, that cause it.”

The lactation consultant explained to me that this was a very new discovery and most people in the medical profession had not heard of it,  did not know much about it, and there wasn’t much of a treatment for it.

As I allowed myself to take in the information, I became acutely aware that what I had feared most surrounding breastfeeding actually had come true. Instead of feeling euphoria or bliss, I would feel as though I were in eternal sadness during the very act.

I tried to find the silver lining in the situation.  I was grateful for having an answer. To know that what you’ve been experiencing has a name and is a real thing is comforting. I honestly thought I was going crazy prior to her telling me this.

My lactation consultant explained that there was no specific way to make it stop. With  little info from the medical field, all I could do was try to manage it with herbal supplements or by talking myself off the ledge each time it would occur.

My goal had been to make it to 6 months of breast-feeding back when I was pregnant and unaware of what lay before me.  How could I meet my goal of nursing for 6 months if I had to swim in this mental sewage for up to a minute multiple times a day?

I pushed on. It felt like a marathon without a finish line, but I did end up crossing it.

I was sure to share the info the lactation consultant had given me with my midwife so she could be aware of it and advise her other patients should they have it as well.

I’m thrilled to say that there is now an organization called D-MER.org. Hopefully medical professionals out there in the OB/GYN  field will study this condition and more info will become attainable. I remember trying to run a search on Google for it  and there was little to no info on the internet about the topic.

I’m sharing this very personal story because it may help a fellow mom that is going through this madness. It’s not your fault and it’s not controllable.  Call a lactation consultant, pep talk  yourself while it’s happening, ask your husband or partner to sit with you and say uplifting things during let down or just sit and hold your hand so that you can make it past that awful first part.  Be sure to share with your doctor that you’re not depressed consistently – it’s specific to nursing. That’s a big indicator that it’s D-MER.

Thank goodness for my smart as a whip lactation consultant. She ended up on speed dial – not only for the D-MER but because I ended up with mastitis 3 more times! Man, sometimes life is punishing.

In the end, I got through it. We moms are strong. Our bodies are truly amazing. We give birth and go through quite an intense healing process all while learning to navigate sleeplessness, breast-feeding, and the biggest role we’ll ever play in life: Mommy.  There are so many unexpected things that can show up on our doorstep as moms. Incredibly, we persevere because in the end we have to show up for our babies each day.

I’m happy to say I made it to my 6 month goal of nursing with my first son. It was and still is the hardest feat I have ever conquered. I threw a little private party for myself when it was over.

When my second son was born I was hopeful that it would be easier since I had been around this block once before. I had made a personal pact not to be so hard on myself and to throw in the towel if needed. Turns out I made it to 5 months- and guess what? It was equally as hard and unforgiving; I had mastitis the same amount of times as I had with my first son and the D-MER was a regular visitor with every feeding. That’s enough to make someone pretty bitter about breastfeeding.

The positive here is that I felt like I had sacrificed something for the betterment of my child. It seems the most selfless things we do feel the most rewarding-as hard as they might be and as impossible as it feels while going through it.While I was often frustrated that I would never have that blissful experience with breastfeeding, it did seem to get easier to manage the longer I nursed.  It’s so true that oftentimes no one else knows just how hard you’ve worked at something more than YOU do. When I was finished with breast-feeding my second son, I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest.

Women sometimes discuss their stretch marks and such, showing the traces of pregnancy and no longer walking in their youthful scar-free bodies. And while we all have one mark or another on the outside that reminds us we’re in the “mom club”, there’s a pocket of pride within that holds the secrets of  motherhood’s other battle scars. The kind of scars that aren’t visible on the outside.

 

My Latest Article On www.SuburbanMisfitMom.com

When I think back on the hilariously ridiculous fights that my husband and I used to have prior to kids and marriage, I can’t help but look back endearingly. The disagreements we have now are far more grown up and boring: Who left the other one high and dry in the morn without packing a…

via Funny Fights: Coins, Ants, Couches, & A Wedding Dress — Suburban Misfit Mom

The Truth Or Half The Truth? That is the Question

As your child starts to get older, he or she starts to ask really good questions. It goes from “Why?” when they are 2 or 3 years old to “Why not?” to “Why is the sky blue?” to “Why are we here?” to  “Why do we die?” and so on. The questions are sometimes really thought-provoking. Honestly, I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations while lying on my son’s floor at bedtime. These precious talks ensue when he’s groggy but hanging onto random tidbits of info from the day. It’s like he thinks if he can just get that one answer to his one burning question of the day, then he can finally relax and fall asleep.

As with every phase of their growing minds, some days are more difficult than others and some questions are more difficult than others. Let’s start with a light-hearted and easy example first shall we?

“Mom, is Jesus a zombie?” Well, let’s face it, this is actually a very smart question. There are many stories of Jesus dying and coming back to life and a lot of the images on TV and in churches showing him frail, very sad, and with blood in certain areas. I took this question and felt like I was able to answer it decently without having to really alter the truth in any way to soften the info.

Then came questions like, “What does it mean when on [the cartoon]Go Teen Titans they say ‘Mother Nature is evil’?”

This one was a bit trickier to answer. I chose to give an example of how we see jaguars (his fave animal) chase and eat elk or other furry creatures. I asked him if he would feel sad if he saw a jaguar chase and eat another animal.  While these cute creatures can run fast, they can’t really defend themselves against a jaguar. This was my explanation of how Mother Nature is sometimes cruel. I may have also given the example of how mice sometimes eat their own babies. Was that too much? I know, I questioned that extra example myself, but sometimes I get carried away.

There are always some fuzzy adorable questions that are easy and fun to answer like “How did you and Daddy meet?” and “How did you know you wanted to have a baby?” followed up with the infamous question “HOW DO you create a baby?”

EEK.

I recently dodged this gem with a horribly lame response, “Oh, you will learn about that in school and it’s a really long complicated story of science. When you do start learning it in school we will talk about it and I will answer anything you want, but it’s far too complicated to get into right now.”

Crisis averted temporarily. But he’s a thinker and I know that one will resurface again very soon.

Then there are the questions that you just can’t tell them the answers to yet.  Let me rephrase that. You can tell them the answer, it just has to be a special version of the truth. I’m not going to tell my kid why I’m weepy after reading about the latest school shooting. I want him to think school is safe, so I don’t mention these things yet.

Instead, I’ll say “I read a sad story about a child”.

Then I leave it at that.

But how about the questions that we do need to answer that are tough? It’s not really nice or encouraging to push them off.  Their inquisitive minds are flourishing and it’s healthy for them to want to learn about the world.

But MAN, some of their questions knock you upside the head when you least expect it!

Like this scenario here.

My sons both absolutely love Michael Jackson and his music. This was something they developed on their own. After watching Bad, Beat It, and Thriller videos they were hooked on him. Soon came the questions: Can we go to his house? Can we call him? Where does he live? How long does it take to get to his house?

I explained that whole annoying thing about how when people are famous you can’t really hang out with them, even though you really want to and just KNOW you’d be besties. I also broke the news to them that he had died. Well that prompted an onslaught of questions: HOW did he die? When did he die? Who was he with? Can we see him? Can we go to his house even though he isn’t there anymore? Can we see his dead body?

Yowzers.

This is easy, I thought. I’ll go with the least amount of info is better in this instance. So I told them he died from too much medicine. It seemed to cease the storm of questions for that moment. Until one day when I had the news on the TV.  I honestly try not to have it on when they are in the room because these days everything is so depressing. They saw a flash of Michael’s face and then the doctor in the courtroom that had been tried/was on trial for his murder. And my oldest son heard the word “murder”. So, naturally, then came the “what is murder?” question.

OK, I thought, this is heav-y for your 7 year old mind, however, in this moment I went with my gut and told the truth. He immediately brought up the too much medicine comment I had made a month or so prior. Damn, these kids are too smart for their own good!

I explained, “The doctor gave him too much medicine -on purpose-and he died.”

He chewed on this for a moment or two, his green eyes staring in serious deep thought. “There are actually bad doctors that can give you too much medicine?” Oh no, had I just given him a phobia of doctors now? CRAPOLA!

I tried my best to reassure him that doctors can be trusted, and this was a sad, unfortunate story.

How do you know when to tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God when you’re trying to tap dance around giving them too much info? Sometimes, depending on how heavy the topic is, I use my judgement and try the less is more style of answer. But the thing is, I don’t believe there IS a right answer to all this! Mostly, I think us parents are winging it.

So what could possibly go wrong with deciding which version of the truth to give your child…?

My oldest hops in the car after school and is all cranky at me out of the blue.

“What’s the problem?” I ask.

“You lied to me about how Michael Jackson died.”

“No, I didn’t honey.”

“Two of my friends said that their moms told them he died in his sleep. He wasn’t murdered by his doctor like you told me! They were arguing with me. They called me a liar Mom thanks to YOU.”

Well folks, we can’t win ‘em all.

Go With Your Gut

Do you trust your intuition? Chances are you should be listening to your inner voice.

A few years ago, I read a really fascinating book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  It’s a book about the science behind a gut feeling. It goes into depth about how the body and mind are actually wired to have intuition as a fight or flight sense from back when we were cavemen and cavewomen.

For example, you might get a feeling when you go to buy a car that the salesman is lying to you, but you can’t put your finger on how you just KNOW he is lying. There must’ve been something during your exchange that made the wiring in the brain send off an alarm telling you to watch out. Or maybe you’re interviewing a potential babysitter and during the interaction you feel as though there is no way you will hire her. That inner voice in your head is telling you to wrap up and tell her sayonara, but you’re not 100% sure why you’re feeling this way. There is just an uneasy vibe you’re getting.

Only recently did I realize how much this book could have helped me in my life had I read it sooner.

There is this re-occurring scenario that has appeared throughout my  life and it is the ability to trust myself – to trust in my own instinct. I’m not talking about trusting friends, strangers, other people in general …trust as in acting on the initial vibe I get in certain situations. My mind is completely blown on this topic. I could think of experience after experience where I trusted what someone else had said to me over my own intuition or knowledge. In other words, I  didn’t believe that I could be right in most circumstances.

If someone else was telling me something they were thinking was right, surely I must be wrong.  It was rare in my twenties that I ever argued my point on pretty much anything. In my early thirties is when I actually think I started to speak up more and actually debate things with people, friends, and even family. If you’re reading this and you can relate, hopefully some of my experiences below will bring you to your senses-your gut feeling matters! Your opinion matters!  I can’t believe this is something I’ve uncovered only in my late thirties. Knock knock self- where on earth have you been?

Here are some significant instances in my life that are prime examples of how ignoring that inner voice  can get someone into trouble!  I actually trusted what someone else had said to me over what my brain and body were screaming at me.

  • The birth of my second son was a doozy. I almost had him in the car, then again on the pavement in the hospital parking lot, then in the elevator on the way up to delivery. I was physically trying NOT to push so we could make it to the room and my body was like HELL NO. This was because I was holding onto the numbers the midwife had given me: 4:1:1. She had told me if my contractions weren’t 4 minutes apart, lasting for a minute and starting again each 60 seconds, then I should not go to the hospital. This was because I really wanted a VBAC and the concern was that if I went to the hospital too early the doctors would come up with a reason to give me a c-section. She also said if I could still walk and talk I should not head to the hospital or call her either. Well… we almost didn’t make it to the hospital room thanks to me not listening to my body. I went from 11:1:1 to 9:1:1 to the uncontrollable urge to push him out pretty much. Forget the contractions being 4 minutes apart! I had a strong feeling that I should have headed to the hospital sooner, but flat out ignored my own sound advice.
  • I made a stupid health-related decision that could have caused me paralysis.  A few years ago I had a tiny pea-sized bump on my lower spine. My primary doctor told me it was not a problem and not to worry. One day it grew to the size of a golf ball and looked like spider babies were going to hatch out of it. I went to a dermatologist and had them drain it (yuck!). They said if I started to feel sick or if it started to ache to go to a walk in urgent center.  30 minutes later I was in horrible shape. I called my husband and asked what I should do. He said it was probably infected, no big deal, and to follow the dermatologist’s advice and head to a walk in clinic. Looking back-I must’ve been delirious because I knew it was serious and I should have gone right to the ER- not a walk in clinic! The doctor said indeed I had an infection that must’ve got into my blood when the dermatologist had drained it.  He asked if he should operate right there to pull out whatever was left and to see what else was going on in there and he told me it could be serious. I was passing out and nodding my head to do what he needed to fix me. This part is nasty- just warning you. The local anesthetic needle missed the area and I felt the numbing medicine drip down my back. I let the doc know I didn’t think he got the needle in and he said legally he could not give it to me twice. I died at this moment. I lay there feeling every cut and tool digging into my back for what felt like an eternity. I am pretty sure there was convulsing going on- no lie- and I cried pretty hard. The deeper he cut into my back, the more he explained how serious the situation was. The cyst had penetrated the 4 layers of skin and was breaking through the final layer, the fascia,  that protects the spinal chord. Had I waited a day or two longer, he said I would have lost the ability to walk for up to 6 months, maybe longer. When he got it out, he helped me up and the nurse walked me to the waiting room. I went into shock there. You can’t go through something like that and just walk out of an urgent care center like you’re ready to carry on with your day! My husband called me upset asking which clinic I had gone to -he had been trying to reach me for awhile. I tried to tell him but I could not speak properly. My mouth and brain did not work together and I was starting to oddly shake uncontrollably. The gauze on my back had already  been soaked in blood and saturated my shirt, ran down the seat of my pants and was dripping on the waiting room floor. When my husband arrived, he placed his hand on my back to help me out the door and there was so much blood  he had to borrow towels to put on the car seat for the drive home.  I had to go back 3 times to have drains put in and bandages changed. There is a nasty hack job of a scar on my back now as a result. What’s the take home message? I should have never gone alone and I should have gone to an actual surgeon in the ER at a hospital. I should not have listened to the derm, or my husband, or the urgent care doctor. I should have followed through on my gut instinct telling me “this is damn serious girl”.
  • I questioned my smart decision to run like hell from a job with a predatory boss. One of the first corporate jobs I took when I  moved to CT at 22 years-old was for a small business that was owned by a couple. There were 3 other employees and we all worked out of their home.  One day the wife went on a business trip.  That night at around 5 when I was packing up to leave, her husband, also my boss,  asked me to stay after everyone else “just for a minute”. He called to me from their basement to come downstairs to his work station for a talk. He started asking me about my life, why I moved from Chicago to CT, and my boyfriend. Then it got all types of creepy and he moved over to the stairs blocking my only way out. Then he SAT on the stairs just as we were wrapping up the conversation. This completely blocked me from getting up the stairs to the exit. He started asking me really personal questions about my relationship and I told him I had a dinner plans and squeezed past him running out of there.  I drove the next morning to the recruiter’s office who placed me there and told her I was never going back and why. She debated with me that she had known the couple for many years and surely this was a misunderstanding. She called the couple on speaker with me there and when she explained I was quitting because I felt uncomfortable, the man AND woman flew into a rage screaming into the phone. The recruiter turned bright red and took them off speaker so I could no longer hear their name-calling. I left her office upset and she said she’d call me when things settled down a bit. Thankfully, I had a job at an accessory store in a mall to bring in money until I got another corporate position. To my horror, that was not my last experience with that man. He proceeded to call my cell phone for weeks leaving messages begging me to come back and work for them. Then he started showing up to my night job at the mall at closing time and I would have to hide in the back or duck behind the cash register, petrified he would see me and follow me to my car. We started getting hang ups on the days I worked and even on days when I wasn’t in. The staff also said he left his name a few times and asked that I please return his calls. To this day, it baffles me that the recruiter tried to coerce me into going back there! She had actually made me feel like I was overreacting and had dreamt up the whole thing. I actually doubted myself and thought about going back at one point!

These are only 3 examples where not trusting my own intuition got me into trouble.  The crazy thing is -I could give you so many more examples. What’s so interesting about life, that is often forgotten or unrealized is that we’re still learning about ourselves . I challenge you to find out what you could be doing differently to improve yourself.  At 37 I learned to trust myself. Who knew?