REBOOT

Postpartum is hard. No matter where you are, who you are with, or the particular circumstances; the postpartum challenges to your mind and body are intense. It’s also hard for the loved ones of the mother, as they try to cope with the changes and provide support and love in the best way they can while often being overwhelmed by the challenging circumstances themselves.

Even now I’m having trouble finding my way through this post as mixed emotions gurgle to the surface and confuse my focus.

The past year has been very difficult. Somehow, my second baby is approaching his first birthday. And yet, where did all those days go? Many hours were spent in an exhausted survival mode with feelings of resentment, disappointment, shame, and despair. But I also have been working on myself and knowing that things will improve with time and with effort.

Infertility and phases of depression put an extra stress on my relationship with my best friend and husband, Rodney. The postpartum challenges we faced in isolation, in our apartment during the covid pandemic in Cuenca, Ecuador, thousands of miles from our support network, brought us down to our lowest point as a couple. I wasn’t doing well. While not every moment was terrible, I wasn’t enjoying our children and family as much as I wanted to. I wasn’t enjoying life as much as I wanted to. I wasn’t feeling loved, and I was not loving Rodney well. Our communication faltered from healthy and supportive to almost non-existent. I won’t dwell on the past and on the negative, but please reach out to me if you need support or want to hear more to connect and not feel alone.

Recently, Rodney and I have taken bigger steps towards improving our relationship and ourselves as individuals. I am using an online counseling service for myself and we just started relationship counseling on a related platform.

For myself, I have given up wheat and coffee as they both seem to interfere with my body functioning well- we’ll see as time goes on. I am using intentional breathing to relax and reset my mind and body, as well as a very simple mantra: “Breathe. Relax. This too shall pass.” Two giant, exciting, challenging changes started today: 1) Mommy goes out to the officina to work instead of Daddy, and 2) I begin the Wim Hof Method 10-week fundamental course.

As I take over some of the time in the office, I will be working on me (meditating, writing, etc) and towards income-making pursuits. Rod and I are putting effort into sharing various workloads more equitably. Soon, I’ll add a link to more info and posts on the Wim Hof Method work that I’m doing.

My overall goal is to be the best me that I can- a me that I can be proud of. To enjoy my life, my family, my surroundings, no matter the circumstances or the weather. I want to love more and give more. I want my body to feel great so that I can make the most of each moment. I’m side-stepping out of my current boggy track, into one that where I tackle challenges, I persevere, I ask for help when I need it, and I feel stronger and healthier in my body and mind.

I just want to finish by saying that Rodney has been instrumental in all of these steps and has shown incredible generosity, strength, and thoughtfulness. This morning he gave me the encouragement and support I needed to take the plunge and start Wim Hof TODAY … not on some idealized better day that might never arrive. I am forever grateful to him.

Now, I will go be momma and wife with my family for awhile. Remember:

You are MUCH stronger than you think you are!

Love,

Dianna

I Wish I Were a Writer

I wish I were a writer, but I’m a mom.

For years, I cried tears of grief for children that would never be. I spent days hiding from the world in my bed. Under covers of quilted down and of darkness and of sorrow. I was trapped, thick in the misery of never holding my baby in my arms.

Now I have my babies. They are both crying for me now. I want to be alone, to be in quiet, to be writing. I want to rest my tired arms from holding their sweet bodies close to me. I want to rest my ears from the whining and fussing. But one precious child is on my lap as I type this now, and the other is fussing for me in the next room instead of sleeping.

Like a writer, I sit down with my water, my coffee, and the desire to pour words onto the paper. I pull out my journal and sit down eager to get down the thoughts that have been milling around my mind. But I often bring another tool to the table as well. A breast. A breast exposed and ready to work. A breast prepared to feed and pacify a baby who needs me. The integral tool that affords me five minutes to put words on a page. Currently, my lap doesn’t merely hold my computer, it holds my daughter who blessed our lives nearly two years ago. But part of me – a part I feel rather ashamed of and annoyed with – only wants to be holding the computer.

I want to be a writer. But even more, I want to be a good mom. I want to appreciate my good fortune and especially my children. I don’t want to want to be alone. I don’t want to wish for silence. I had silence and I wished for babies.

I want to feel only grateful and joyful.

Even as I write, I feel the negativity slipping away. I want to hold my daughter and this computer. If it came down to it, I would instantly trade my computer and all my other belongings for just one moment with my babies … so why do I linger over feelings of discontent?

Why do we do this? Why don’t we accept and breathe and appreciate?

We are human. We are animal. We are imperfect.

I am grateful that my almost-two-year-old is here with me, spilling water on the floor, crawling after an unsuspecting bug, licking the spilled water off the terrace, spitting on the floor next to me and squatting to poop in the diaper I will soon remove from her silken, chubby body.

I am grateful for the baby boy who (for the moment) sleeps on my bed, but who will soon fuss to be held and fed and loved. And I will love him. The best that I can. Always working towards improvement.

And with that I will hit “publish,” so that my daughter feels loved and not ignored or neglected. So that I feel like a better mom than a writer.

(Note: Written on Thursday, August 28. I didn’t hit “publish” when I said I was going to, because Baby Boy woke up right as I was typing the last sentence and I didn’t have time to check the settings and add the photo! This paragraph is written with Baby Boy nursing on my lap while Little Girl naps 🥰 )

I Am Grateful

It’s been super rough for me the past few weeks. Let me clarify: it’s been rough being me. Some days are super and I can hang in there with patience and positivity, and generally enjoy my kids, my husband, and my circumstances. Unfortunately, most days I struggle to maintain composure for at least a good chunk of the day. I growl, I snap, and I’m ugly. I’m not the person I want to be. I blame it on lots of things: lack of sleep, trying circumstances due to pandemic, teething toddler who is super-needy. In the end, it’s only me who can make my life what I want it to be. It’s only me who can decide to be who I want to be. It’s a daily, moment-to-moment struggle.

The 28th of June I started writing a gratefulness journal to help me see the positive in every day. I wrote nearly every day for three-and-a-half weeks and then I floundered; It’s been 2 weeks that I haven’t written down what I’m grateful for. Well, now I’m starting again.

  1. I am grateful that this pandemic situation will not last forever and things will get better.
  2. I am grateful that Rodney is such a loving daddy and spouse.
  3. I am grateful that both of my babies are asleep at the same time for the moment …

Pretty much every weekend, Rod and I have been taking the kids for a walk by the river. Every weekend that we go, there are women washing laundry in the river. Their children are playing nearby or helping with the wash. I realized it’s yet another way that I am fortunate. When I got home after one of those walks I wrote a reminder on my whiteboard: “You don’t have to wash in the river.”

*******

I just told my mom and sister that if I had enough money, I would have hired a private plane already and gone back to Alaska with the kids and moved in with my sister. Perhaps though, I would be missing out on an opportunity to grow if I escaped back home. I’ve had a privileged life, and these months are certainly some of the tougher ones I’ve experienced in my life. I have to work on myself diligently during this time if I want to survive with sanity intact, and also enjoy life to some extent.

The newest baby just woke up. If it were here right now, I’d hop on that plane in a heartbeat. But it’s not here. Someday, I hope that I’m grateful for this period of time that I am pushed to work on myself. Right now, I’m grateful for my sweet gift of a little boy … and that he just smiled at me and drifted back to sleep.

(that lasted 30 seconds and then a minute later big sister awoke too)

Where are we now?

I just poured cold water into Nixin’s breakfast bowl. Nixin watched me, confused and a little amused, as my water bottle stood patiently nearby. That’s why we’re not going to Turtle Town this morning. 

More accurately, we’re not going because Pyra is teething and she and I didn’t get enough restful sleep last night. I quickly gave up and went back to bed after trying to persuade Rod to take Nixin to the beach without us. 

This lifestyle is an interesting mix of vacation and … “life” that I feel we  haven’t yet sorted out. We’re still finding our footing and figuring things out as we go. I feel a bit like we’re moving around in limbo. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to the idea of venturing out from a permanent residence: you leave your home and stuff behind for a certain period and then return and resume where you left off. Only we just left, we didn’t leave off. We have no home to return to (although I admit that the generosity of my parents to share their home with us is very near the feeling of having our own home). 

I was frustrated that Rod wouldn’t take Nixin to the beach without me, because we’re only on Maui a couple more days, and our time with Nixin is fleeting. Who knows when she’ll next have the chance to swim with sea turtles? More importantly, when will he have the chance to share the experience of swimming with sea turtles with his daughter? Well, maybe it will be tomorrow, or maybe it will be never. Who knows? 

On vacations you generally are more motivated to get out and experience things because your time away from “real life” is limited. But what if you’re living a semi-permanent vacation? Is our motivation declining because we don’t have a deadline to return to “real life?” Or is today just an off day because we’re all a little under the weather? I’m sitting on the lanai (pretty sure that’s what they call a deck here?) soaking in some gentle morning sun, listening to the coos and chirps of island birds, with the sea shimmering a deep blue just a few hundred feet away. But I’m letting my daughter sit in the air-conditioned apartment and watch “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.” 

I’m going to have to do better to take these things in stride, because this IS our life. There will be down days, and there will likely be many more than I imagined. We’re not out on a quick 2-week trip, we’re just “out.” There will be indoor tv days even in paradise. But I’m grappling with this, because as much as I appreciate relaxed, having down time, and not over-planning, I feel the tug of mortality and uncertainty in my periphery- the uncertainty of how long this lifestyle will last. There are other variables, out of our control, that we have to contend with and incorporate into the equation. 

We don’t get to make all of the decisions for Nixin’s experience and future on our own. There have already been some shadows of roadblocks coming to light that we’ll have to navigate. And it may potentially lead to a change in course. 

But I ramble in my cocoon of sleepy thoughts. I guess I just want to make sure I appreciate this life right now, as we live it. And to really live it, even as it stretches out in front of us indefinitely. I don’t know if we’re at the beginning of long and durable venture, or if this beginning butts up against the unexpected ending. 

I may have experienced a sleepless night with a teething baby, and awoke to feel unrested and grumpy, but the Maui morning sun has soaked into my bones as I sat writing this, removing the sense of frustration and anxiety that permeated my foggy thoughts. The blue water swept those unwanted feelings out to sea. The chorus of birds have brightened my outlook and helped to adjust my perspective. 

We can never know exactly where we sit on our journey through life. But that’s ok, especially if we recognize and appreciate the inevitable uncertainty as opportunity. 

Mahalo Maui. 

Sleep Training, Part 2- Not Quite Magic, But Close Enough

I’m sitting down during another no-fuss nap, after a night of good sleep. It’s been just over a week since we’ve started and the change to my life has been absolutely dramatic.

It’s incredible to me how quickly and easily our nights were transformed from me getting up every hour and nursing Pyra back to sleep, to an entire night of sleep without a peep from Pyra. Some nights there are a couple fussy periods, and often I choose to give Pyra a “dream feed” or two to help keep up my milk supply (technically I am an “older mother,” even if my husband balks at the term and assures me otherwise!). The results of the “cry it out” method (CIO) were so positive and so immediate- and with so little crying, despite the common name of the method- that it really felt like CIO was a little bit of magic for our family.

Pyra is comfy in her new bed!

The reason that CIO is not pure magic: naptime continues to be tricky. I was prepared for this, having read that nighttime sleep is easier, so you should work on that first then move onto naptime which is harder for babies to catch on. However, since Pyra transitioned her nighttime sleep so incredibly fast, I was still surprised and disappointed that naps were so much more difficult. There is definite naptime improvement, but it is slower progress. There is also a lot more trial-and-error and second-guessing involved with naptimes (Is she ready to go down? Should I get her up, leave her to cry, or soothe her back to sleep?) which leaves room for a parent to regret decisions and feel like they have no idea what they are doing. Naps are just way harder. At least they have been for us.

I’ve started to think ahead to when we start to travel and wonder how that will go. I know that we will have trying times ahead of us and I’m working on my perspective now, so that I don’t get overwhelmed and super frustrated later on. Naptime conditions will change considerably when we are traveling. If naps are out of whack, what happens to nighttime sleep? How will we cope with four of us sleeping in the same room with a crying baby? How will it feel to have a baby crying in someone else’s home?

I’m encouraged by our nighttime success that things will go pretty well, but we have tried one sleepover at my sister’s and it was a little rougher than usual. There is often some intermittent fussing and crying in the first hour or two after we put her down. It’s one thing to have that in your own home, and another to “subject” other people to it in a home you’ve been welcomed into.

One step we’ve taken to provide Pyra with better sleeptime consistency is to purchase a travel bed. We went back and forth about whether to haul around a baby bed, but ultimately we decided it might prove to be worth its weight in gold (and if it’s not we can get rid of it along the way!). Our rationale is that if she has a familiar bed and bedtime routine, it won’t be so disruptive to change locations. Children adapt so quickly, we’re sure she’ll get used to moving around, but we think the bed will provide some comfort and make transitions smoother. And if baby is sleeping well, the whole family will sleep better.

The travel bed will not only provide comfort, but it will provide safety as well. It makes me feel a lot better knowing that Pyra will be in a safe place to sleep wherever we go. She’s already starting to roll around, and soon enough she’ll be crawling. We don’t know what our housing will look like, but no matter where we are, Pyra will sleep in a safe bed.

We bought the Guava Lotus Travel Crib (http://bit.ly/GuavaLotusTravelCrib) for its lightweight portability and good reviews. After we’ve used it more- and lugged it around the world- I’ll post my own review. So far, it’s been four nights and it seems to be working out great. We have already used it at my sister’s house for some naps and an overnight. Considering that we’re still in the early days of sleep training, I’d say the experience was very successful.

Well, I’ve reached the end of this post … in one sitting! Pyra is still sleeping soundly and I’m going to go make a coffee and hope that I have a few moments to sip it before going up to get my rested, happy baby.