My Unassisted Baby Turns 1 Years Old Today!

One year ago today, at exactly this time, I was in intense labor. I held my husbands hands, as he sat in front of me. I leaned my sweaty head into his chest and moaned “oooooOOOOOOOooooo”. I breathed, I swayed, I moved around. I cried. I was brave. And then, he was here. I can close my eyes and smell his birth, and feel his wet head against my chest. I was elated! My son! My only son! My fourth baby.My husband and I were in awe over this tiny being we made and brought into the world together. His three big sisters came with Nana to meet him the next day, and he has been their loved baby brother every since. We became a family of six! 86220161013_191005

 

We went through 2 difficult months of colic, then he blossomed into a baby who wanted to see the world around him. He always wanted to be held facing outward, never wanting to miss any action.

He learned to roll over, and crawl with his sisters encouragement. He started playing with toys and interacting with his sisters.

Now, he is 1 and his two front teeth on the top and bottom popped out just this week after months of teething! He starting to take steps on his own, and will soon be walking (then, I am sure, RUNNING) after his sisters.

Markos Lorenzo, my first freebirth and my first baby boy; you are so loved! I cherish you with my whole heart, and so does Daddy and your sisters. I look forward to our many adventures and learning together as you grow.

Love,

Momma

Advertisements

Busy Moms Still NEED to Focus on Recovery

I am sitting at my laptop, it’s almost midnight. I have my Anatomy and Physiology text books to my left, my homeschooling planner for my 3 kids to my right, and I just swallowed a handful of chocolate like medicine. My 3 daughters are sleeping (for now), and baby brother is finally asleep after I nursed him and left the bed like a ninja.

I just finished planning the rest of this week; with all the kid’s activities (dance, cheer, music..), my schedule for college, and my husband’s schedule for college and work. I have half finished crochet and sewing projects that I don’t touch for weeks. But despite all of this—I am STILL in recovery and that means I have to make time for recovery.

Motherhood is very self-sacrificial. Of course it is worth it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a lot from us. I give from myself every day; my body through breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding, playing, my mind through planning, hoping, thinking, worrying, and my emotions through love and dedication. I do it because I want to invest in this little tribe of mine, but I also need to invest in ME.

Why? If I don’t invest in myself, my children lose me. If I forget about my recovery needs, my children lose me.

I read an article recently about the lives of men and women who are in active addiction, mostly with heroin. They had pictures of people at their worst. I recognized that look. I looked like that at one time in my life, before my babies were born. That bone-tired, devastated, hurt-beyond-words look. That junkie life that sucks the spirit from the people it possesses. The streets are hard living, and I remember it well.

It is good for me to remember. This addiction kills people. There is no way for me to exaggerate or employ hyperbole in this discussion. It is a war against addiction, and there are many, many causalities. In fact, the heroin epidemic has only gotten substantially worse since I was a user a decade ago. I have buried friends too.

I was at deaths door when I put down the needle and the stem. Emaciated. In such a depression that I was nearly comatose. Sore all over my body from the constant picking. And my heart and soul were in much worse shape. I was broken so badly, hurt by so many. It is NOT life I ever want to go back to.

So, I fight. Thankfully, most days don’t feel like a war anymore. When I first got clean, I hide myself from the world because I knew I was too weak to refuse drugs if it was offered. I had cravings so bad, my body would shake and I would vomit. I had intense physical reactions to my psychological addiction to crack cocaine. It was absolutely horrendous. But I survived.

And, my first baby was born not too long after. She was a beautiful light from God. She changed me. Motherhood changed me. From the moment she entered this world, I knew I would never be the same. I am a better person, a thousand times better, because of her and my other children.

So, please, if you a mother in recovery—focus on it. You know what you need to stay clean! Everyone’s recovery is different. It could be meetings, or church, or meditation, or prayer, or community, or exercise or all of the above. Just do what you know you need to do. Even if it means you have to ask for help with babysitting, or work a

little less, or go to school part-time. It is needs to be your priority.

If you don’t have your recovery, you don’t have your life.

If I don’t have recovery, I don’t have my life.

I do it for myself. I do it for my children.

Shalom.

client_PART_1497123996947_20170610_154325
Baby Boy with his RECOVERING Momma

Homeschooling While Going to College

This week marks the start of the homeschooling year and, I am back in college to earn my A.A in nursing. I’m going part time but the classes are difficult! After this semester, I have 2 more classes before I officially enter nursing school (that is when life will get even crazier).

On the home front, we have a 1st grader, kindergartner, preschooler and baby brother who tags along babbling at his big sisters and eating crayons!

We do traditional workbooks, but given their age and our lifestyle we are still pretty relaxed about homeschooling. I want our children to have the freedom to play and be creative for most of the day. I have seen our oldest, who was struggling with reading, really learn a lot from a class I put her in over the summer. It was the right move, because she gained the confidence she needed to start this school year off right!

As far as how I will be getting MY schoolwork done, that isn’t as easy. It comes down to the super powers mothers have to “just find a way”. You know you have it too! Whatever it takes, it gets done. My dream of becoming a nurse is still 3 years away, but if I can survive my addiction and thrive despite my mental illness, I can do anything.

The four little faces starting back at me give me all the motivation I need!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My Mother Thinks Homeschooling Will Ruin My Kids

20161227_190214
Anatomy is fun!

It is February and we are more than half way through our first homeschooling year. My oldest child will be 6 years old next month, kindergarten age. My second child is 4 years old but she is using kindergarten curriculum. Then, I have my 2.5-year-old and my 4 month old baby. It has been a learning experience for us all. Home based learning is an adventure; difficult, wonderful, and filled with messy fun.

I sometimes place pressure on myself, especially since my kindergartner is struggling to read (and frankly, not very interested). Sometimes I push her when my instinct says to let it go, allow her space to lead. I am aware of the eyes on me, watching and waiting for me to mess it all up. I take a breath. I stand tall. I remember that I am her mother, and I know what my child needs.

It is hard to remember that because of my own mother. My mother is highly involved in our lives, in a good way. She is a young and active grandparent “Nana”. My girls adore her! She adores them! It is beautiful. Yet, my mother is also opinionated and stubborn. She believes that homeschooling is the worst thing I could ever do to my children, and I am not exaggerating.

She has told me bluntly that I am setting my children up to be failures. According to her they will be uneducated, socially awkward, and have barely a fighting chance in the world. These are her words. The words of my own mother. They cut so deeply—hurt so badly.

How can she say that to me? Does she think I am so incredibly incompetent? Am I so stupid that I would not realize my children aren’t doing well? Am I so oblivious, or do I care so little? How can she believe these terrible things?

Why must my children sit in a brick and mortar school with 25 other kids in order to learn anything?

Why must they have recess and lunch in order to socialize?

I can’t wrap my mind around her utter disdain and absolute disapproval. I could understand if she preferred public school. I could understand her having some worries. But to insist that my children will suffer and not learn anything, that I cannot comprehend.

I can’t even speak to her about it anymore. She seems so angry about it. I am so close to my mother besides this point, which makes it hurt even more.

I want to talk to her about the activities we are doing. I want to share the joy of watching my girls learn something new. I want to involve her in my girls’ education, just like she is involved in other areas. But I can’t, because she will explode with hurtful words like arrows into my heart.

I am not sure how to manage this with her, but I am sure that I will do what I know is right for my family.

Spiritual Journey with a Personality Disorder (Part 1)

(This is the first in a non chronological series on my religious journey and experiences as a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder)

This is a hard post to write. How do I express in words the sighing of my heart? How do I explain the winding roads, narrow paths, mountain tops, and valleys of belief? David writes in the Pslams “as the deer pants for water, so does my soul thirst for you O God”; and for most of my life I have thirsted for God. Yet, after spending my 20s steeped in a Christian faith, I am now in a place of uncertainty.

Uncertain. One of the most uncomfortable feelings for me. Faith kept me from the unstable waters of my personality disorder. Faith gave me the answers. Faith told me who I was, and what to do. Faith grounded me as a young adult, when previously I was totally unmoored.

 

I remember moments of panic when doubts would arise. I felt as if my feet were on shifting ground, and my identity was a house of cards. Doubt was the strong wind threatening to blow it all down. And then, what? Back to uncertainty. Confused. Lost. Even worse; addiction. Death.

I couldn’t handle it. I went back to the Bible, back to prayer, back to the safety of belief. Yet, when my husbands bipolar reared its ugly head and burned my life-as-I-knew-it to the ground, my faith was also a victim of its flame. And that hurt. After years of striving for righteousness, I failed the test. I went back to old behaviors. Went after men who would hurt me like I knew I deserved to be hurt. I even, for a brief moment, dabbled in drugs.

 

I was able to recover myself quickly, but the damage to my faith was done. I couldn’t think of Jesus without crying. I left my Bible shut. My Borderline Personality Disorder was in full effect, swinging me wildly in every direction.

Then, my husband came back. I was scared to take him in again. I guarded my heart. But, our love is too strong to resist, and soon I was carrying our 4th child; our first boy.

And then, my faith was returning. I open the Bible. I released my anger and pain. I asked for forgiveness. I came back.

But, it just wasn’t the same. I tried to get that devotion that I once had back again. I tried so hard, but something wasn’t right anymore. I felt like an actor. I felt unsure again.

I was feeling tempted and confused over my attraction to women. My faith told me this was wrong, but I missed that female connection so badly. I wanted to be with a woman, and I started to drift from my husband. My PTSD was really bad, so sexual contact with my husband was triggering to me. I felt like I would be safe with a woman instead.

This conflict between my desire for a same sex relationship and my beliefs that said it was a sin became too much for me to bear. One night, I poured out my feelings and desires to my husband and I allowed myself to go deeper into that desire. I spoke about my doubts, and they grew. My faith was tested once again; I failed the test.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I was hung over. Was last night real? Did I really let go of my convictions so quickly again? I felt a heavy sadness, and I felt lost again. I tried to revel in my newfound freedom to be with women. I sought someone to be with, but at the same time I felt my Borderline confusion getting worse.

Who am I? What do I want? What do I believe? Borderline Personality Disorder. It really hurts to be so confused over such basic aspects of identity. Am I gay? Bisexual? Am I a believer? Agnostic?

It was August 2015 and I was planning on getting baptized at a Hebrew Roots congregation, but instead, I was deconverting again. It all felt rushed, and disorienting. I didn’t leave the faith for a really discernible reason, which made it even more difficult to understand.

This year, I have tried to find my footing again, this time without religion. I have tried to find myself. I am focused on my children, and my passion for midwifery and as a doula. But ever since childhood I have had a yearning for the divine, and I can only suppress it for so long. I feel unfulfilled, yet I do not know how to fill this need.

I can only keep going, and trust I will find I answers I need.

(The next post will go over my childhood atheist upbringing, and my search for God as a preteen and teenager in Hinduism, Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity) 

 

 

The Big Needs of my Little People

It is winter time again. The ground is lightly covered with snow and ice traps my windows shut. It is beautiful but the first wave of winter sickness has entered our household.

I was the first to get sick, but I continued on with the many daily tasks; as well as organizing and cleaning after the holidays.

Today was the first day since Christmas where we had some intentional and structured homeschooling. The apartment was cleaner and more organized, and I had high hopes of folding my laundry and getting outside.

Those hopes were dashed when my adorable 4year old daughter Liora came walking into the kitchen looking a bit pale. She told me her tummy hurt, and before I could say a word she threw up all over the floor.

“Oh hunny! I’ll be right there. Your okay, your okay.”

I put my 2 month old son quickly down into his bouncy seat. He immediately started crying (my fussy boy).

I grabbed towels and wipes and new clothes for poor Liora, and helped her get cleaned up.

Baby screaming. “I know I know baby! I will be right there!”

Ok, Liora is cleaned up. I sit her on the couch with a light blanket.

Baby is still screaming.

I jog unto the kitchen to wash my hands and get poor crying baby boy but Zipporah my 2 year old wants me.

I can’t pick her up until I wash my hands, and the baby really needs me but none of that matters to a 2 year old who wants mommy NOW.

I drag myself over to the sink with Zipporah who is holding onto my leg wailing “UPPY! UPPY!”

I wash my hands, pick her up and give her a hug. “Mommy loves you Zipporah. I had to wash my hands so I don’t give you germs. I’m sorry. Your sister is sick.”

After I give her some quick  cuddles, I turn to my poor screaming baby and pick him up finally. I kiss his sweet face and nurse him. He settles in happily, finally getting what he needed.

Now I go to sit back at the table and realize that my tea and soup are luke warm. Sigh.

I give up on the soup which was already reheated twice that day and I bring my untouched tea to Liora because she needs to replenish her fluids.

My oldest daughter Noemi wants to play a game with me, she wants to take out her microscope and do some science with me. She wants me, her mother, to just sit and be with her.

When one child is sick, it can be so difficult to meet the needs of the other small children (and babies) who need you!

I was very close to my grandmother Rose, and talked to me right before her death about how she adored my babies and she thought I was a wonderful mom; but she warned me that it would be so hard to meet all their needs if I had more.

She wasn’t negative towards me having more, but she knew something I didn’t know yet. She told me that “you will miss some things” even when you don’t mean to. My grandmother raised 6 children, and so she knew this struggle.

She was right.

It is hard to strech yourself out enough to be present for each child, each day. The truth is that we have to go by who needs us the most at what time. I try to be fair, but I know I won’t always get it right.

That is why I am doing my best to forge a relationship based on strong communication with each of my children. It starts with babyhood, when I am in tune and receptive to their needs. And it changes as they age.

My 5 year old Noemi took me aside this evening and said to me “mommy, you were with Liora today…no time for me”

I felt sad that she didn’t feel like I was with her today, but I was so thankful that she was able to tell me! She trusts me to enough to tell me. She trusts me enough to know I will do something about it.

Fernando has off of work tomorrow, so Noemi and I will do something together just the two of us. Daddy will stay home with poor sick Liora, and watch the youngest two. Noemi and mommy will do something special together.

I will come home and I will have 3 more little ones with BIG needs. I will do my best to be there for each of them.

Mothering means that my laundry didn’t get folded today, and I didn’t shower until the afternoon.

Mothering means focusing on the little people in my life over things.

Mothering means being needed, a lot; and seeking to meet those needs while recharging for myself too.

Whew. Time for sleep.

(Until my 4 year old wakes up and gets sick on her bed)

Journey to Breastfeeding- Part 3 (Nursing Aversion, Pregnancy)

Baby Liora and I settled into a nursing routine. I knew when she would want to nurse, and she knew exactly how to nurse. My breast was her comfort, her nourishment, her contentment. She would rest her chubby baby hand above my breast and fall asleep dreamily. Often times I would hold her there after she unlatched and gaze at her beautiful face, smiling at something in her sleep that I couldn’t see. What do babies dream about? I wondered.

Soon she was crawling, and she loved to move! This was a much more adventurous baby, I realized, than my oldest. I had to baby proof many things I never had to think about before. But still, we nursed. I was still that safe haven to come home to after exploring and moving her body around.

She began sprouting teeth! Now many moms will say “once they have teeth, it is time to wean” but my baby didn’t seem ready to wean at all. She was nursing often, including at night, and besides one or two episodes of biting after she dozed off at my breast, her teeth were no issue for me.

I loved laying down in bed with her and nursing her to sleep. I adored how peaceful it was. I lovingly stroked her golden hair, which was by now growing longer. I was so enamored with her! It was a joy having this special place together, something we shared only between ourselves. It was an extension of the womb, my body caring for her body, my substance giving her strength.

Perhaps that is why I was caught so completely off guard when it fell apart. I never imagined, on those sweet nights nursing her, that in only a month she would be weaned. But deep inside my womb, another life had quietly buried, and announced their presence by altering our nursing relationship.

My milk began to dry up, totally. I had read that most women lose a lot of milk, some lose all, and some lose none. I was not prepared for how quickly my body took my milk away from Liora. I was hardly pregnant before I noticed that I was waking up each morning totally dry, whereas before I was covered in milk from night nursing.

I decided that even without milk, I would nurse Liora for comfort. She was SO attached to breastfeeding, I knew she was not even close to ready for weaning. But I was caught by surprise, I began to detest nursing her! How can this be? What is wrong with me? Why do I feel this horrible feeling every time she latches on?

Nursing Aversion!

I had never heard of it. I would not learn what it was until well after my 3rd baby was born. I had no idea why all of a sudden, whenever Li started to nurse, I wanted to scream and rip out my hair and tear her off my body. It was the worst sensation. I started begging God to give me pain rather than this creepy-crawly-scream-and-run feeling. It is impossible to explain unless you have felt it. It is not being uncomfortable. It is not painful. It is an unbearable sensation.

Perhaps, if I had been aware of this possibility I could have endured it. I don’t know. Probably not. I have so much respect for any woman who has, because I quickly could not nurse her.

Even when it broke my heart. Even when everything inside of me said “nurse your crying baby! She needs you!” I tried. I tried so many times. But each and every time the sensation was immediate and intolerable.

By 13 months, Li was weaned totally. It took two weeks of her daddy staying up with her all night. She couldn’t be near me because she wanted to nurse. I felt horrible. I was so sad. I thought it was all over, she would never nurse again.

But, I didn’t know there was still a future for us as a nursing couple. This journey was not over yet….