Tag Archives: anxiety

Not Your Slave

Marrying a man who was a doormat has been an interesting experience…

In the past I was a doormat as well.ย  I allowed people to walk all over me, use me, take advantage of my generous nature, and even abuse me.ย  Then one day, I had enough.ย  I wanted to be better.ย  I wanted to feel better about myself.ย  I knew I deserved more than I was allowing myself to have.ย  So I sought help.ย  I went to therapy, worked on my self-esteem and anxiety issues, applied those skills to my real life, and started standing up for myself.ย  My newfound boundaries and ability to tell people no lost me some friends, but afterall, they weren’t real friends anyway.ย  They were just users, and I didn’t have room for that nonsense in my life.

Now I’m married to a man who had the same sort of background.ย  Jarrod was used by MANY people in his life, and after many years of being used, his friends and family came to expect a certain attitude and behavior from him, naturally.ย  But then he got together with me, and I saw his struggle.ย  I saw him feel run down and defeated by giving in to everyone’s demands of him, even though he didn’t want to give in.ย  He often gave in to avoid confrontation because he just didn’t want the drama and conflict.ย  He and I had conversations about it, and I assured him that he deserved better.ย  That he deserved the respect of his loved ones.ย  That he deserved to be able to stand up and say no to the demands and even to simple requests if he so desired to say no.ย  I encouraged him to defend his boundaries, and make decisions that he wanted to make rather than what everyone else wanted.

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Jarrod and me, September 2017

At first everyone thought I started being the one bossing him around, pulling at his puppet strings and making all his decisions for him.ย  I’d like to say over time they all came to realize that he does, in fact, have a mind of his own, with is own opinions and desires, and his own ability to make decisions.ย  And I was absolutely not making all his decisions for him.ย  But as of yet, they still haven’t figured it out.ย  I’m still getting the “blame” for his changed behavior.ย  When all I’m really doing is just telling him that it’s up to him, and supporting his decisions.ย  I’m building him up, making sure he knows he’s important and what he wants matters.ย  It’s frustrating to me that no one gives him the credit for being in charge of his own life, and that I’m pretty well disliked because they still think I’m controlling him.ย  But most days I know I just can’t let it get to me.ย  If his loved ones actually love and care about him, they will someday come to realize that he is his own man, and can say and do whatever the hell he damn well pleases without anyone telling him what to do.

As far as decisions that affect the both of us, or our whole family (us and our children), our decisions are 50/50.ย  Always.ย  We talk to each other, discuss the pros, cons and options, and come up with a decision we are both satisfied with.ย  For everything!ย  From little stuff like chores and household rules, to appointment times and dates, all the way up through family vacation ideas and living arrangements.

So, am I sorry?ย  HELL NO!ย  I have nothing to be sorry for.ย  I love Jarrod, and I’m doing everything I can to make his self-esteem better, and his own needs and desires met.ย  He does the same for me.ย  We’re soulmates, and that’s what we do for each other.ย  And if anyone has a problem with all of this…. keep it to yourself.

Bonding

When I was pregnant with Felix, I had certain beliefs and expectations of becoming a new mom again.  I knew I would be tired and sleep deprived for a while, and sore from the c-section.  I knew I wanted to breastfeed, and I knew the baby would sleep in our bed at least part of the time.  I knew we had family and friends who were looking forward to not only meeting our baby, but helping with him for babysitting and such. And I knew I wanted to stay at home with the baby for about the first year or so, at least.

From the first day Felix was born, he gave me hell about breastfeeding, which continues today.  He has found new and unique ways to make nursing challenging just about every week.  From refusing, to not latching right, to blood sugars requiring supplementation, to LOTS of biting.  Its been crazy!

My expectations about sleep deprivation were very inaccurate.  It’s been nothing like I thought it would be.  Felix does not have typical sleep patterns.  For one, he doesn’t really nap.  He sleeps 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times per day while laying on one of us.  If he gets put down, he wakes up.  And at night, for the longest time he didn’t sleep much.  He was awake for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night, and nursed several times overnight.  He would be wide awake and happy, playing in the dark and keeping us awake.  I was getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night for months.  It has evolved a little over time.  Now he generally sleeps well overnight, but still wakes to eat 2-3 times, occasionally staying awake for an hour or two, or occasionally having a night where he doesn’t sleep much at all. On the flipside of that, he occasionally has nights where he sleeps 10 hours straight.  But its more on the sleeping side now.  Even though he’s still challenging to get to go to sleep.

Friends and family have been few and far between as far as visits.  No one babysits except Felix’s big sister Zoey.  And that’s only been a couple times.  But some of that is just because Felix had CMV and was grumpy and colicky until he was about 6 months old.

And that’s where the point of this post comes into play: illness and colic, and bonding with my baby. For the very tough, colicky period, I loved Felix of course, but I didn’t like him. I hated all the crying, particularly because there was nothing I could do to soothe him. I couldn’t make him feel better. He would look directly into my face and scream frantically as if pleading for me to make it better. It broke my heart every day, and I sobbed right along with him.

And after a while the helplessness made me feel like a shitty mom. It made me angry, not at Felix, but at the universe for making my poor innocent baby so uncomfortable and upset. It also made me angry with myself for being so completely unable to make it better. I didn’t understand why it was happening. I started to have feelings of regret and resentment towards myself and Jarrod for deciding to have another baby in the first place. I was desperately missing the time I had spent with my husband, my older kids, my other family, my friends, and even working. I was entirely consumed with the fact that I now had to take care of this little, helpless, miserable, screaming human that I could not comfort or make feel better. I knew it would be a temporary phase in the bigger picture, but every day felt like an eternity. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Then, as more time passed and Felix wasn’t improving, wasn’t getting past his colic, and now had obvious developmental delays… my already sleep-deprived, depressed and anxiety-ridden brain absolutely ran away with ideas of serious illness and disabilities. He wasn’t physically moving right, seemingly wasn’t seeing or hearing well, wasn’t responding to anything or looking at us at all, had no interest in toys or really anything. Our family doctor really didn’t know what to tell us, so he sent us onto specialists. But before we could meet with the specialists, I couldn’t help but worry myself sick. My brain just would not shut off, thinking he had some severe life-altering condition or issue.

When we met with the developmental specialist the first time, Felix had improved only slightly. That was in August. Genetic tests, body system function tests, and many imaging tests were ordered. Physical, occupational and speech/feeding therapy was ordered. The doc said he wanted to be super aggressive for the best outcome. But while we were waiting for all of these appointments, Felix started to improve on his own.

The only test that came back without a normal result was the one for CMV antibodies. Meaning at some point in Felix’s short life, he had been exposed to CMV and had gotten an infection. CMV is like mono, and it effects everyone differently. Apparently it had a very strong, long lasting effect on Felix in a very important developmental period of his life. So he felt like he had a cold/flu for likely 2-3 months, and that is what was delaying everything.

In October, Felix had his follow up, and by then he was like a whole new baby. And since then he has improved even more. He is babbling, playing, social, happy, communicative, and a complete joy to have in our lives. Physical therapy is helping him learn how to move his body the ways he should have learned when he was sick with CMV. It’s giving him the awareness and confidence to try new things and he’s really blossoming.

His illness and delays really drove a stake into my heart at first, and made me question our decision to have another baby. It was extremely tough, and looking back I’m not sure how we survived it. But now that things are coming closer to “normal,” speaking for myself, there’s an overwhelming sense of relief and joy in my life. Felix is an amazing little guy. I’m so incredibly grateful and blessed to be his mommy. He has taught me so very much already, and I’m sure he will continue to teach me more. The bond is strong now, as I feared it would never be. Thank goodness.

I’m so lucky to have been able to stay home with him and support his extra needs. If I’d had to work or if I wasn’t as involved as I am with him, we may have missed the issues and it could have had much more lasting effects on him overall.

I’m even luckier to have an amazing husband supporting not only Felix’s needs, but me, my needs, and my dedication to helping our son. Jarrod and I make a pretty phenomenal parenting team. There’s no one in the world I’d rather have as my partner in life. He has supported me through all the struggles, listened to all of my venting, and done everything he could do to help in every way. He’s shared in all the joys and triumphs, with just as much excitement. He’s the best husband, father, and man I’ve ever known.

Now the regret and resentment is completely gone, as it has transformed into bliss. We made the right decision to have a baby. Felix makes the most perfect addition to our family. All the older kids adore him, and I feel like his presence is bringing us closer as a family as well. Something we all have in common. I am enjoying watching his personality develop and shine, and I am hopeful and excited for the future with Felix in it.

Step 1

Felix had his developmental specialist appointment. Dr Noble examined him, talked about our concerns, and was very attentive and professional. He did express some concerns about Felix, but in a rather non-specific way. He diagnosed him with hypotonia, but said his muscle tone was good, saying he thought he would really benefit from physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy (for feeding concerns, at his age). He wants to be really aggressive with therapy in hopes that we can come out ahead of it.

Dr Noble also referred Felix to neurology, gastroenterology, optometry, audiology, and ordered genetic tests, an upper GI, and a sedated brain MRI. It’s a lot to take in all at once. And I have no idea what the doctor is thinking may be the overall issue, but he said he has to rule a lot of things out before we will know what it IS.

Jarrod really has been my rock through all of this. He worries, but nothing like I do. He has a more “take it as it comes” attitude, which is good for me. I tend to sit and stew, and wonder about Felix’s every little new behavior. I’m so anxious about test results or what the future may hold for our boy. I truly just want the best for him. I’m so scared he’s going to have big challenges and… well my mind tends to wander to worst case scenario. I hate that about myself. I just want to shut off that part of my brain and focus more on Felix’s strengths. I’m working on it.

Almost kinda sitting up. ๐Ÿ™‚

The first tests Felix was able to get done were a few basic blood tests and an upper GI. All of those have come back normal so far except for some reflux seen in the upper GI. But that has already been being treated, so nothing new there. His next test is the sedated MRI of his brain. I’m more nervous about that just because he has to be asleep for it, and I’m a little worried about what they may find. I know during his many ultrasounds while I was still pregnant, they always looked at his brain and organs and they were always perfect. So I guess we will see if anything has changed.

We are also waiting on results of blood and cheek swab genetic tests. But those take several weeks.

There’s so much going on so quickly, and it’s overwhelming. But I feel very grateful to have doctors taking things seriously and getting him figured out while he’s very young so he can have the best possible outcome and future.

I’ll continue to update here as test results come back to us.

Felix is 6 Months Old!

Felix is six months old! He had his six month check up today, and updated his vaccines. He was running a little behind on vaccines because for his four month check up he was fighting quite the virus. It turns out he had CMV. If you don’t know what CMV is, I very strongly suggest that you research it. I knew nothing about it before Felix was diagnosed as having had it. I believe he contracted it after he was born rather than in utero, so we have that working in our favor. However, since the symptoms last so long, his development is delayed a bit. That would be why he wasn’t meeting his milestones or doing much of anything for a couple of months earlier in his life.

However, as of today, the doctor and nurse both are not concerned with the way Felix behaves or appears in the doctor’s office. The nurse has been doing her job for well over 20 years, and said Felix seems like a pretty average six month old baby now. As of today, Felix is 16 lbs. 10 oz., and 26 1/2 inches long. He is in the 30th-40th percentile for baby boys of his age. It seems odd to me that he is so small on the percentile chart now, when he was so huge when he was born. But he’s been growing on that path all along, so that is clearly the size he was meant to be. There is no concern there.

Developmentally, when it comes to his milestones, he is a little behind still. I truly believe it was because he was feeling crummy for so long, however he does still have an AEA evaluation and developmental specialist evaluation next week. We want to cover all of our bases so that if there is an issue, we can address it early so Felix has the best chance at having a typical childhood.

As of yesterday, Felix started rolling front to back a little, and understands how to roll back to front with help. When he gets put into a bouncer seat, he scoots his butt forward until his feet touch the ground, and then he scoots out of it. He sits up without support for a few moments at a time, but likes to throw himself backwards so we have to be careful. He still isn’t good about eye contact, but he is looking at things and tracking movements much better. and he absolutely loves playing around with our new piano. I swear he’s going to be a piano star when he gets older. Lol. Other things he likes are going swimming, taking baths, and most of all, the porch smoking. When he is having a bad day, and is the most upset, we can sit on the porch swing together and he’s happy for the time we’re there. He has also started solids, and really loves meal times. He is still breast-fed for the rest of the time.

Overall Felix is a pretty happy, good spirited young man. But when he’s having a bad day, everyone knows it, and there’s not a whole lot we can do to get him past it besides just get through the day. I’m hoping with time, the bad days are fewer and further between, filled in by many more happy days. He is such a joy to be around when he is in a good mood.

Social Media Anxiety

In July, I left Facebook for a while.ย  The only reason I don’t leave permanently is because I have friends and family on there that I do not otherwise connect with, and I don’t want to lose touch.ย  But anyway, here’s why I took the break: social media induced anxiety.ย  Comparisons to others’ lives, mostly surrounding Felix.ย  As I’ve mentioned before, we have some concerns about his developmental milestones, and possible delays.ย  I’m a member of a few support groups of people with babies born around the same time as Felix, and for a while it felt like all of those babies were growing in leaps and bounds while Felix was lagging back fairly drastically.ย  He had “colic” or tummy pains for what seemed like forever, and still continues to have more mild pains occasionally, at 6 months old.ย  He wasn’t making eye contact, reaching for toys, or using his hands much for a long time either.ย  Seeing all the other babies around the same age doing all of their typical age-appropriate behaviors was making me feel like not only a bad parent, but extremely worried for the future of our baby.ย  What if he is handicapped?ย  What if we have a child who will not have a normal life?ย  What if he will require assistance beyond what I ever imagined?ย  And I went further and further down that spiral.

Once I broke free of those groups, and realized I needed to quit comparing Felix to the rest of the world, I started to accept our reality rather quickly.ย  I started to gain some clarity, and ease back from the severe and dark anxiety cloud that was looming over my head.ย  And I started to come to terms with the fact that Felix is not every other baby.ย  He is his own very unique person.ย  And that’s NOT a bad, scary thing.

Once I got that clarity, I started doing things to help him out.ย  I downloaded BabySparks (app), and have been working with Felix every day that he feels up to it.ย  I found more ways to entertain and soothe him, and haven’t always been distracted by my phone.ย  I have accepted him for who he is instead of trying to gain control over something that is not controllable.ย  And after all of that, I know now he’s not as delayed as I thought he was.ย  Now that he’s feeling better and is over most of the tummy issues, he is catching up.ย  He’s making more eye contact.ย  He’s smiling and giggling more.ย  He’s babbling, playing, and interacting much more.

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Spending time in nature, just the 2 of us.

We do still have appointments with developmental specialists just in case there is more we need to do.ย  But after breaking free of social media for a while, and connecting with Felix on a deeper level, one-on-one, without comparisons to other babies, I believe we are in a much better place.ย  *I* am in a much better place, with less anxiety and more happiness and joy for my baby, which makes him a happier boy too.

Felix will have his 6-month checkup on Friday the 9th, and I will post an update on his measurements and all that he can do after that appointment.ย  He has grown and changed so much in the last month.ย  And Jarrod and I are so proud of him.