Changing, but not becoming a butterfly

Do you ever have one of those moments when you kind of have a reality check about yourself? Like the lightbulb goes turns on and you almost can see yourself, sitting there, and you actually take the time to inspect yourself.

I was driving home. The same road I drive multiple times a week. the kids were especially cantankerous. In an attempt to stop the whining, the hubs tried to draw their attention to the castle.

The Castle. Up close, in person, it isn’t the most glamorous. But it sits on top of a mountain, overlooking the land around it for miles (or kilometers, if you will). I was in love with this thing when we first came here.  It is truly breath-taking when you come around the curve and there’s this massive foreboding structure looming in the sky. And every time we drove by it, it always gave me that same feeling. Being me, I made jokes. That was my castle. I was going to buy it and live there like the princess I was meant to be. But over the years, the jokes died. The dreaming died. The optimism died.

I saw myself, no longer the sunny, ever-helpful ray of sunshine I once was. I would compare myself now more to a cloud. Graying the world around me. How did this happen? It must have been a slow decline into the pessimism I seem to wallow in. I don’t remember an abrupt change of disposition. Like the slow process of the sun bleaching the color of the wooden fence in the yard, somehow my joyfulness had been blanched over time.

Now I’m left to wonder, is it possible to get back to who I was? Does that person even exist anymore? Or is this the new me? My new normal?

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Keeping an eye on the horizon

I haven’t updated in a while. Honestly, it just felt wrong. How can the adaptablemamma tell you anything about her life when she wasn’t adapting. On the very best days I was just rolling along. But in truth, I was struggling. We all have phases where we struggle. We aren’t growing and adapting to our ever-changing environment.

I often felt like I was out in the ocean. I was treading water, but never going anywhere. I don’t even think I was waiting for the coast guard. I was just kind of there. Every once and a while a big wave would come along and slap me in the face. I’d get knocked below the surface, but I would always come sputtering up eventually. I knew I couldn’t go on like this, but I didn’t really know how to change my situation.

But I’m donning some gear now. I’m ready to swim. To go somewhere. I can’t hold up against the massive waves and the blazing sun, so I’m going under. I once loved scuba diving. So I’m comparing this next phase to a dive. I’ve got to strap on a lot of heavy things, but they wont sink me. Instead they’ll help me to glide below the surface. To block out the extraneous noise of the day to day. Once I’ve adapted to the new environment I’ll feel that weightlessness and peace that I always loved about diving.

I’m ready to adapt, to grow, to change. I can’t stay in this stagnation anymore.

My only problem now is to find my path. Navigation hasn’t always been my strongest talent. And navigating my way through life seems to be more difficult. But I’ve enlisted help. And I still have hope. And that is always the most important part when growing: hope for the future.

A post to commemorate 4 years

Facebook informed me today that I have been an expat for 4 years.

Somedays it seems like it couldn’t possibly have been FOUR whole years.

Other days… hmm… Other days, it feels as if I’ve been here four and forty whole years. I feel as if I’ve lived a lifetime here. As if the lifetime I lived in the States belonged to another. That girl who worked all the time, who read books, who went to the salon, who laughed and loved and cried, squeezing out every drop of every moment of the day. That girl was me. Wasn’t she? Maybe just another version of me? Or just a preview of who I am to become later after this time of motherhood-up-to-my-eyeballs passes?

When O was born I was too busy to really enter into this season of my life. Then we moved here, and I had no choice. I’ve been submerged into this season of marriage and motherhood. Half-drowned in it you could almost say. At the same time I’ve been pummeled by a myriad of new experiences. Enough to fill another lifetime. I’ve learned a new language, I’ve been to Crete and Paris and Turkey. I’ve let go of old dreams and started to form new ones. I’ve met amazing people and people that I wish would spontaneously combust (or at least just go away and never come back). We bought a house. My name is attached to a piece of land. I don’t even really think of it as home yet. But we got the official documents in the mail this week. Our names are officially attached to this plot and the house on it. I carried and birthed another child and suffered from the physical and mental scars. I’ve gone home for holidays and weddings. And I’ve missed funerals because I was stuck over here.

Some days, the monotony of daily life with kids just gets depressing. The hours drag on as I wait for bedtime, willing it to be tomorrow already. But then I think of all the little things in between. The excitement of new places, new experiences. Then I remember the endless Mondays spent slinging pizza in college, and that feeling that life was going on all around me and I was missing out. I guess the everyday is like that. Boring us out of our minds. Maybe that’s why some people get dementia, they stop having these experiences to look forward to and the droll of everyday just gets to their brains.

So here’s to the next four years and the excitements they shall bring.

Happy New Year!

So, they say you should make New Year’s resolutions that are attainable. Break them down, make them reasonable. yada yada…

So my goal this year is to give birth. At 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I am confident that I can reach that goal. And won’t I feel accomplished when I do!

Gah. Seriously, I enjoyed a few extra days of just being O’s mom. Especially because he came down with a little virus and was all sick-y and needed mommy to take care of his fever. But I am ready for this baby to come on out already. I’ve had contractions for about a week now. They get real steady and then they’ll quit. And let’s not get started on the excruciating pain in my back from all the contractions. I’ve tried everything on my end: praying, eating pineapple, long walks, rich food, spicy food, cleaning the house, visualizing, seducing my husband, short walks, relaxing, eating more spicy food. So far all I have accomplished is heartburn….

But here in Germany it’s typical to make a woman wait it out. The lady near us at the clinic today was 9 days overdue, she was also late with her first 2 children as well. (Although, she looked very comfortable and relaxed, I must say, lacking that weary wild-eyed look I’m starting to permanently wear.) Pretty much doctors wait until there’s some sort of medical reason, or the woman goes crazy and demands and induction. But the doctor today offered a glimmer of hope. Maybe an induction tomorrow, if I want it.

I have never been so excited to drink castor oil in all my life y’all. We’ll see how it goes…

Granola, granola everywhere

So I would say that in comparison to US moms, Germany moms are much more “crunchy”. They breastfeed, they wear their babies in slings wrapped around them, etc. I’m not saying that one way is necessarily better than the other. But I do think that each family should work out a routine that best fits their personalities/lifestyle.

At the last birth preparation class, one of the mother’s turned to me and asked “How long did you breastfeed?” I proudly answered, “Nine months!” Her reply, “So short? I breastfed my son for almost 3 years.” Granted, this woman was not not actually German (Italian) but as you can see, most Europeans are generally a bit crunchier than Americans. Doesn’t matter, I’m still proud of my 9 month stint as personal milk supplier. In Germany, there are free breastfeeding classes and insurance covers for midwives and lactation consultants to help you. And there are plenty available to come to you when you need them. In the US, I had a phone number I could call with questions. And when a friend of mine got a pump, I was the one who helped her figure it out. My mother really couldn’t help me, because she breastfed one of her kids and only for a short stint. I now know that she probably didn’t produce enough milk because no one had ever really taught her what to do. Her own mother was told formula was actually better for babies.

So, I thought going into tonight’s informational meeting at the local hospital, that it’s Baby Friendly certification from the WHO would make it a really great place to give birth. Hmmm….

Granola Hospital Midwife: “We recommend a relaxing bath to relieve labor pains. Oh, but we only have one bathtub, so if you are in that room, and another woman wants to use it, then we will ask you to go to another room.”
Husband looks skeptically at the bathtub.
Me: “Well, that’s not so convenient…”

Granola Hospital Nurse: “We are Baby Friendly, that means we have no pacifiers. If you would like one for your child, you’ll have to bring your own from home.”
Husband looks slightly alarmed.
Me: “Great, one more thing to remember to take to and from the hospital.”

Granola Hospital Midwife: “We no longer have a nursery. It is best for the baby to be with the mother 24/7. Just as they were for the last nine months.”
Husband: “Aww, that’s nice.”
Me: “Ummm, what? The only sleep I got in the 6 weeks after O was born was on the one night the nurse convinced me to send him to the nursery for a few hours. They changed his diaper and rocked him and held out as long as they could before bringing him back to feed. How am I going to survive without my one night with 4 solid hours of sleep?”

 

Yeah, that last bit was the deciding factor. Unless the baby is crowning or my water comes gushing out like in the movies, then I’m going to squeeze my legs together and just deal with it for the 45 minute drive to the Women’s Clinic in the city. I’m not saying that if you want your baby with you 24/7, then you are bad/crazy/whatever. I’m just saying that I need that option. It helped me to be my best mom self to have one night when other people looked after O and I could let my body recover. And Lord knows, that child needs me to be my best mom self, because even at my best, I am far from perfect.

Things Change

So, most mothers of 2 or more kids will tell you that each kid is different. That each pregnancy is different. Well, I’m not here today to tell you otherwise. Some of it is just the natural progression from over-zealous first-time-around motherhood to been-there-done-that-who-cares-if-the-baby-eats-some-dog-food-it’s-not-toxic second child syndrome. Some of it is more situational.

For example, in my first pregnancy I laughed at the idea of sewing my own hospital gown. Why would you waste money on fabric that’s just going to get all stained with lord-only-knows? Of course this time around, I feel compelled to tackle this sewing project. Mostly because in my sterile visions of childbirth, there’s always a lot of medical interventions involved and I’m always in a hospital gown. In Germany, they tell you to just wear a comfy shirt, when you come in labor. Now, if I own a comfy shirt, chances are, I like to wear it. So why in the world would I want to trash it by giving birth in it? If the hospital won’t issue me a disinfected, hospital grade material gown, then I guess I will be making my own.

Another case in point: not choosing my hospital based on my doctor. So in Baton Rouge, I had the most wonderful OB/Gyn. His office was in the tower at Woman’s Hospital. So, of course, it was planned out that we would drive 45 minutes to his hospital so he could oversee everything and take care of me. In Germany, the doctors aren’t so much involved. In fact, legally, you have to have a midwife with you for the birth in a hospital, but the doctor is totally optional. You might not even actually see a doctor during your labor and delivery. I’m still planning to drive the 45 minutes to Tübingen, but not because my doctor will be there. In fact, I don’t even know if someone has to call him to tell him I’m in labor, maybe they just send him a letter all official and German like from the hospital. Something with a signature and a stamp. Germans like to stamp important things. The hospital in our town actually has a WHO “Baby Friendly Certification, but I don’t really want to go there… I’ve heard that they tend to not send critical patients to the specialty hospitals as soon as they should. My nursing education makes me all too aware of every rare and life-threatening thing that could happen. I don’t want to stroke out from an embolism and be a vegetable because the doctors here were too proud to admit they couldn’t handle it themselves. I don’t think my husband or my in-laws fully understand this. But I really don’t care. In the words of every 13 year old that’s ever been on Maury Povich, “It’s my body, I do what I want.”

Also situational: In the last pregnancy, it was a question of “when” and not “if” I wanted an epidural. In Tübingen, there’s a variety of choices for pain relief. I’m still leery of all of the breathing and relaxation techniques people recommend. But I’m keeping an open mind. Also up for grabs are laughing gas and some kind of opiate. I may turn this birth into my own little science experiment. Of course, I never actually felt contractions during my first labor, so I may be screaming for my “Rückenspritz!” before I make it through all of the different options. (Also- I am not a super human- I didn’t feel the contractions despite my Pitocin drip due to an overwhelming and excruciating backache that I’d had from about 32 weeks into the pregnancy. Kind of like you wouldn’t notice if you busted your lip falling if you also broke your arm at the same time.)

Now that I am officially on Maternity Leave (another situational difference. Yay, socialism!) I hope to update a bit more on these differences. Maybe on the next post I’ll go into detail of some of the all natural recommendations for inducing labor. 🙂 But really, it’s been interesting so far. And I’m learning to not be too neurotic. Maybe.

Please don’t call child services…

Do you ever have one of those moments as a parent when you realize that you have ROYALLY screwed something up? Not like you threw Billy up in the air one too many times and he puked on you, more like you threw Billy into the air and he hit his head on the ceiling fan and now he leans a little when he walks?

O fell asleep on the way home from a long day of playing with the cousins. NBD. A carried him up the 2 flights of stairs to our apartment, because he’s just a bit too heavy for me to safely and comfortably carry that far. O wasn’t sleeping very deeply, so I just left him in the bed in his clothes, hoping to sneak in later and change him or at the very least wrestle a pull up onto him. At about 10:30, he woke up, calling for me. I went in and decided that since he was half-awake now was as good a time as any to get that pull-up on him. First went the pants, then I started to pull his underwear off. I heard a quiet *snap* and then O started screaming. Huh? What the hell just happened??

Since he was crying the “I’m hurt” cry, I picked him up immediately. And then I saw it- a 2 inch long strip of elastic laying in the bed. It must have been sticking out of his underwear and got caught under his butt when I pulled them off. The snap was it breaking! -and popping him in God-only-knows-where o_O

So…. here I sit. Wondering if I have scarred my child for life. What if he develops a kinky fetish? Or worse? What if he develops a phobia? What if he ends up being that weird guy that never lets a girl take his pants off?

Oh my word, what have I done???