The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Struggles as of late May 24, 2009

Just wanted to put up a quick post about my struggles lately. For some reason, I have been struggling more than usual with

  • feeling very “hemmed in” by motherhood; feeling sad & frustrated that I have little time to devote to exercise, hobbies, or friends
  • feeling overwhelmed and anxious about having kids, and the challenges that will come as they grow older; feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising two children to be responsible adults

I would sum up my struggles lately as “depression and anxiety.” Some of this is probably brought on by the fact that I have HUTH (hung up the horns), meaning that I am no longer pumping breastmilk for my baby, so the hormonal changes are likely exacerbating my tendencies to feel depressed and anxious.

It’s good to have this blog, where I can write about these things without being concerned about what my friends and family will think (only my husband knows about this blog).

One strange thing that’s happened lately: A friend of mine just had his first child (well, his WIFE had the child, but you know what I mean) a few days ago, and this has gotten me thinking about what it was like when we first brought my youngest home from the hospital. I had horrible, horrible anxiety the first few days we were home; at times I could hardly stop crying. Well for some reason, just thinking about my friend and his new baby brings back some of those feelings that I had seven months ago. Weird!!!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear insights from others who struggle with anxiety.


So Many Constraints April 4, 2009

It has really struck me over the past few months how constrained my life is right now. By constrained I mean that I cannot, as a general rule, do what I want to do, when I feel like doing it. The reasons are as follows:

1) Pumping breastmilk. For the first few months of my son Mark’s life, I hardly left the house, mostly due to my pumping schedule. It not too easy to run errands or socialize when you have to factor in a 6-7 times/day pumping schedule! I am down to 3 times/day now, which is certainly easier to maintain, but is still a challenge. No matter what day it is, no matter what fun things might be going on, I need to pump before bedtime, which takes at least 30 minutes. Not such a big deal, if I could sleep in once in awhile. But every morning, after waking up I race to the pump, while every minute that goes by, I am leaking (wasting) milk into my nursing pads. Not to mention that having a 3-year-old and an infant isn’t very conducive to sleeping in in the first place.

2) Naps. Adam, 3 1/2 years old, still takes an afternoon nap most days, so that is part of our schedule with only a few exceptions. Mark, 5 months, was a very difficult napper when he was younger. Some days it seemed I spent half of my waking hours just trying to get him to sleep (typically 3-4 short naps per day). Things have gotten easier, but I protect his nap schedule (as much as he has a schedule) quite diligently. To say that I feel tied down to the house would be an understatement. If we are somewhere like church and he doesn’t get his morning nap, my life is a hectic hell until I can get him his nap; therefore, I am not too interested in skipping or delaying his naps! In fact, Sunday morning church has taken a backseat to Mark’s morning nap. If I have to arrive late or not at all, so be it. I realize that I am in the minority in my approach to this, but I am not willing (or able?) to handle the stress that results from missed or delayed naps.

3) Bedtimes. Adam needs to have lights out around 7:30 p.m. Mark is “completely finished” for the day around 6 p.m. most days, occasionally later. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in a restaurant or even at a friend’s house with Mark after 6 p.m. or even 5:30 p.m. And, of course, I don’t feel it’s fair to him to put him in that situation, unless it’s for something very important and/or very occasional (travel, important appointment, etc.). As a result, we don’t have much of a social life. If anything, one of us goes out while the other stays home and takes care of bedtimes. (As for a babysitter or grandparent putting him to bed… that is another topic entirely. We tried that last night, with disastrous results.)

3) Weight Watchers. In January, I joined Weight Watchers with at least 30 lbs to lose. So far, I have lost 17 lbs, and I am very happy about that. At the same time, anyone who’s done WW or any other plan knows that it takes dedication and structure, day in and day out, to make progress. I can’t just throw caution to the wind a few times or even one time per week, and also expect to lose any weight at my weekly weigh-in.

Last night, at a get-together at a friend’s house, all of the above-listed factors came into play in a very typical fashion. My MIL came over to babysit, and when I left the house, I was concerned about Mark [bedtime factor] because he seemed to be going downhill fast, with stranger anxiety and with getting tired. Sure enough, my husband, who was still home at the time, had to intervene and put Mark to bed because he had completely gone off the deep end.

I had left home early so I could go to Subway and get a Weight-Watchers-friendly dinner before going to the party. For me, I am much more likely to succeed if I can have a filling, healthy meal before being exposed to all sorts of fattening yummies. I spent a few hours at the party, and had only a few sips of margarita [pumping/breastfeeding factor] and almost nothing to eat [Weight Watchers factor]. Then I had to leave early (around 9 p.m.) so I could get home, relieve the babysitter, pump, and get to bed at a somewhat decent hour.

To an observer, I suppose I would appear to be rather a dull sort — no eating, drinking, being merry, or staying out past 9 p.m. In fact, I am a little self-conscious about how I am perceived, even though normally I’m perfectly comfortable being seen as the straight-laced one.

But the bottom line is, I cannot achieve the goals I need and want to achieve if I don’t consistently make decisions that respect the inherent boundaries of the above list. I have to take care of myself (sleep, health, losing weight) and protect my children’s sleep; if I don’t, there are prices to pay. I guess this is all part of being an adult and being a parent.


Dropping to 3 pumps per day

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:39 am
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Big decision yesterday- I made the leap from 4 pumps per day to 3 pumps. My schedule will be approximately 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 9 p.m. I will need to pump longer at each session in order to make up for the dropped pump session, but two of the three sessions will be when the boys are asleep — a major plus. And since this eliminates the late afternoon pump, it should be easier to run errands or get dinner ready.

I have been pumping for 5 1/2 months, and at this point, I want to make sure Mark gets some breastmilk, but I am not willing to stretch myself to the limit for the sake of every last ounce. It is certainly a factor that I have always been an LVP (low volume producer) and therefore Mark has always gotten a fair amount of formula no matter how much time or energy I put into pumping.

This means that I will be sad to see my supply decrease, but not as sad as if I had never had to give Mark formula before.

A good friend stopped over two nights ago, and I ended up sharing about my struggles with pumping. After some hugs and tears, and after he left, I gave a lot of thought to the matter and realized that this was the right thing to do right now.

This evening, my thoughts and prayers are with every mother who is struggling with issues around feeding her baby – breastfeeding, formula feeding, pumping — any or all of the above. It is such an important issue, but it can be hard to keep perspective as well.


Progress on taking care of myself February 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 12:31 am
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The last month or so has brought good progress when it comes to taking care of myself.

1) Weight Watchers – I attend a meeting every week, and have lost 8 lbs so far. My husband is very supportive of my efforts and doesn’t complain about the fees. This means the world to me. Truthfully, the only way I can manage to eat healthfully and watch my portions is by relying heavily (and I do mean heavily) on frozen prepared meals. Even then, some days it is a challenge to just heat up and eat a meal. I haven’t quite figured out why I’m so crunched for time — partly due to pumping breastmilk 2 hours per day, I’m sure.

2) Exercise – Well, something is better than nothing, right? I manage to do a 12-minute strength training DVD from about 3 times a week. It doesn’t sound like much, but the fact that I am doing even this small amount of exercise makes a big difference in my overall attitude. This is something that FlyLady has taught me – congratulate yourself instead of beating yourself up.

3) Sleep – Most night I am in bed with lights out by 9:30 p.m. This is so important, I can’t stress it enough. I’ve been using the meditations that I mentioned in an earlier post, and they are very helpful, especially for getting back to sleep after my middle-of-the-night pump. It is tough to stick with this early bedtime; it certainly puts a damper on the few social opportunities that come my way. But I have found that it is just not worth it to me to stay up late even one or two nights per week, since it takes days for me to feel decent again.

Overall I am very happy with my progress. Of course, I would still like to have less stress, more sleep, more free time, etc., but at least I’m on the right track.


A new tool for being kind to myself February 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 9:46 pm
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While looking around on the iTunes store last night, I came across an album called Stress Relief with Dr. Siddharth Ashvin Shah – Guided Meditation Using Self Hypnosis Techniques and Yoga Nidra Relaxation.

I figured that I had nothing to lose by buying 2 tracks for 99 cents each. I’m glad I did. So far the tracks have helped me fall asleep at bedtime, fall asleep after getting up in the middle of the night to pump breastmilk, and rejuvenate in the middle of the day. I’m amazed at how good I feel (of course, it also helps that I went to bed before 9 p.m. last night).

I plan to buy more from this series. This frazzled, worn-out mom needs all the help she can get.


The lying has begun February 3, 2009

In my 3-year-old’s room, we have a nightlight that’s hooked up to a timer (the kind you hook up your lamps to when you’re on vacation). When his nightlight comes on in the morning, it is time for him to come out of his room. Until then, he is expected to stay in his room and play (relatively) quietly.

This morning, he opened his door at about 7:15 and said that his nightlight had come on. I wasn’t able to easily check because I always pump breastmilk at this time of the morning, this morning being no exception. I said, “Really? It turned on?” and he said, “Yes.” So I let him come out and have some breakfast that was sitting out for him, even though I thought it was about 15 minutes early.

A few minutes later, he said, “My nightlight isn’t on.” (Don’t you love how kids this age out themselves?) So I unhooked myself from the pump and went to check. Sure enough, it wasn’t on.

I then explained to him that he lied to me, why it was a lie, and what the consequence was: an extra half-hour in his room.

I doubt that he’ll lie about this topic anymore, but the next topic is sure to be just around the corner. Fortunately I know better than to freak out about this, since it’s perfectly normal (though not acceptable, of course). Per John Rosemond, I try to make consequences “memorable,” which is why I chose an extra 30 minutes in his room as opposed to, say, 5 minutes.


Thoughts for today January 29, 2009

Ugh, the dreary winter is starting to get to me. It’s getting harder to find the motivation to get things done, to spend the required time pumping breastmilk, and to take care of myself.


If I can stay focused & motivated for just five minutes at a time, and manage to avoid too many interruptions as well, I will get through today. I might even manage to do a simple exercise DVD.


BabySteps to take care of myself January 23, 2009

My life has been crazy ever since my second child was born in October. In addition to the usual new-baby craziness, I also have chosen to pump breastmilk for about 2 hours per day, since I wasn’t willing to go through the pain of direct nursing. I could never have anticpated how challenging this would be.

Most days, it is nearly impossible to even leave the house (unless we have no choice), because it is so difficult to find a time when my oldest isn’t napping, my baby isn’t napping, or my baby doesn’t need to be soothed into a nap in the next 45 minutes. It is a nasty winter here, and baby Mark takes many short naps each day. If his nap rhythm gets disturbed, there is a high price to pay the rest of the day. If I do manage to dash out to the store with both kids in tow, it is a race to get home and get baby Mark down for his nap before he becomes overtired and difficult to soothe.

Now, at 13 weeks postpartum, I am starting to try to take care of myself again. I joined Weight Watchers a few weeks ago and am slowly working on the 30 lbs I need to lose. As I explained to my husband, we can spend $40 per month on Weight Watchers, or we can start to revamp my entire wardrobe! Fortunately, he is very supportive, which makes it much easier to stay on-plan.

I have pulled out some exercise DVDs and have started with a very easy one: Leslie Sansone Walk the Walk. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have bothered with something so easy, but I have learned the value of starting small and simple — BabySteps, as FlyLady puts it.

Each day I make a good effort at my FlyLady routine (clean kitchen, shine sink, shine bathroom, one load of laundry, swiffer floors), and congratulate myself for what I do manage to get done instead of beating myself up for not having a cleaner house. If I can tackle something further, such as decluttering a drawer or a surface, so much the better.

This is not an easy time in my life, to be sure, but I am thankful to have a wonderful husband, two healthy kids, and the opportunity to be at home with them full-time. As with so many things in life, the most important thing is the attitude that I bring to my daily struggles.

To all the moms and dads who are reading this, what do you do to take care of yourself? What are the attitudes, sayings, etc., that help you get through your day?


It’s all about the sleep January 21, 2009

Yesterday was pretty miserable around here with regard to naps. Adam (3 1/2 yrs) did not take a nap for some reason. I was surprised, because for the past week or so he has fallen asleep shortly after I’ve put him down around 1:00 p.m. Either he has paid off his sleep debt, or he was determined not to nap, or both.

The real problem was with Mark. His rhythm got disrupted in the morning, due to taking Adam to and from preschool. For the entire day, post-preschool, I kept thinking I was doing the right things at the right times…. only to find that we had one failed nap attempt after another. By 7 p.m. I just didn’t know if I could handle, mentally or physically, yet another trip up and down the stairs (Mark’s room is on the second floor).

Fortunately, my dearest, dearest husband let me escape from the house at that point. I went to Walgreen’s and got some great deals, with the help of coupon & sale info over at It was only my second real coupon outing, and I was wondering what the checkout guy would think of my cart full (okay, not exactly FULL) of microwave popcorn and my stack of coupons. He didn’t seem to mind, though.

I am pretty worn out today, which confirms that I need to move my bedtime to more like 9 p.m. instead of 10:30 p.m. I recently dropped one pump from my 6x/day routine, but I still pump in the middle of the night because it’s so important for my milk supply. It takes about 30 minutes to pump and, realistically, about that long to fall asleep afterwards. No wonder I’m tired!


For children & adults alike, sleep is not a “luxury” January 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 6:14 pm
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Yesterday I began reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD. I think this should be required reading for all parents.

I certainly wish I’d had this book when my 3-year-old was a baby. There is a ton of research behind this book, so I feel confident that I’m reading more than just someone’s opinions.

One thing that’s struck me is that my instincts to protect my children’s sleep (naptimes, bedtimes, the whole works) are dead on. In an earlier post, I wrote about “Sleep Rehab” for my 3-year-old. Imagine my surprise when I was reading along and came across a description of the EXACT cycle that we had been experiencing. (This problem has been improving, by the way, and the key has been to put my son down for his nap around 1-1:30 p.m., not 2 p.m. or later. He falls asleep faster at night, sleeps sounder, and wakes up in a much better mood in the morning.)

The author also writes about children who have a harder time recovering from disruptions to their sleep schedules. BINGO, this describes my son perfectly. I feel more confident than ever in my assessment of him as a sleep-sensitive child. So what if my friend’s preschooler can go to bed late and have no repurcussions? Each child is different, and I know what my child needs.

In addition, I am even more committed to getting the sleep that I need. Being well rested is the foundation for everything that is important to me: being a good (patient) parent; being a cheerful person & wife; having the gumption to stick to healthy goals (I have 30 lbs to lose); having the gumption to stick with pumping breastmilk 6 times per day; and so on. Sleep is not a luxury, as so many in our culture are apt to think.

Again, FlyLady is right-on in telling all of her flybabies to Get to bed!