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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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I’m growing weary of rejection. I’ve been on unemployment since July, and have applied for quite a few jobs in that time. This afternoon I applied for a job that I thought would be a great fit for me and got an immediate response telling me that I did not meet the minimum requirements for the position. Fair enough — they wanted someone who has directed a day care center, and I have not done that. I do, however, have a Master’s in Teaching, and several years experience teaching elementary and middle school. I have also substituted in a daycare and spent the past year as the full-time care provider for my own child.

I think I’m also feeling bad about myself because I had to go the WorkSource center this week for an info session on unemployment. I was required to attend this session in order to continue receiving unemployment and I had hoped that it might be useful and that they might chat with me about my resume and job opportunities in my field. But it was just a Powerpoint presentation about how to properly claim my weekly unemployment benefits, something I already have been doing for awhile now. Also this week I started using LinkedIn, which makes me feel bad about myself because everyone I know on LinkedIn has a professional job.

Why is it that so much of my self-worth seems to rely on having a successful career? Why isn’t it enough to just be a good mom? I think our society seems to expect women to be everything — to be great mothers, wives, friends, and also have successful careers. These expectations set everyone up for disappointment.

I try to remind myself that my self-worth comes from God. One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 43:1: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name, you are mine.” God is telling me that I belong to Him. It is for God, not the world, that I should live my life. It is God who determines my steps. I do not have a job right now, because God wants me to be at home with my beautiful daughter right now, who hasn’t even reached her first birthday yet. God will give me the right job at the right time. It is up to me to trust.

Why do we call it Good Friday? The crucifixion was a horrific event. It’s where we get our word “excruciating” — “from the cross.” But it was a good thing, an amazing thing, that God was willing to be sacrificed for us, that we might be redeemed.

Sometimes things that seem painful at first turn into blessings in the end.

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Image: Crucifix by Cimabue

 

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Teething is very sad for all parties involved. Baby Bear is currently teething (again) and/or sick. She has a nasty-sounding cough, which I think is caused by all her teething drool. Last night at about 12:30 a.m. she would not stop screaming. Usually she will easily fall back asleep if I nurse her, but this was not the case last night. Finally I just got up and sat with her on the couch so that my husband could sleep. After awhile of this she fell asleep and I was able to go back to bed and sleep with her head propped up on my shoulder. She still woke up every few hours after this until we finally got up around 7:30.

It’s days like this that I’m thankful that I don’t have to go to work. Although sometimes I feel like parents who work have it easier, since they get to have a life away from their child. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. (Not that I had the option of going back to work — I got laid off during my maternity leave).

Anyway, I look forward to the time when Baby Bear has all her teeth AND sleeps well all night. I also look forward to the days when she is potty-trained and no longer puts everything in her mouth! And most of all, I’m excited for when she can talk and tell me what she’s thinking and feeling. She is 11-months-old already so I know those days are coming…slowly.

Now I have to go stop her from climbing the bookshelf.

One year later
By Ursula Crawford

One year later,
the tulips are blooming again
and I remember

how in birth
my body was ripped
open. Broken.
My strength taken.

Days later,
I can barely stand and I
dream my teeth are breaking.
I sleep in 90-minute stretches
and pray to stay lucid.

Slowly, over weeks and months
my body heals, my strength returns,
and I piece together a new life,
trading staff meetings for diaper changes,
adult conversation for baby sign language.

One year later,
my life, my heart belong
to you, the one
who grips my finger tightly
in her tiny fist.

In birth I have been made new.

Mothers have been breastfeeding their babies throughout human history, so one would think that this natural act would come easily. At least that’s what I thought, before my daughter was born. My husband and I even went to a breastfeeding class at the hospital in order to be extra prepared.  “Newborn babies instinctively crawl to the breast after birth!” the lactation specialist cheerfully told us.

It was a rude awakening then to find that: 1) my newborn baby had no clue how to latch on, 2) I was so exhausted I could barely hold her in my lap, and 3) I had to breastfeed her every two hours around the clock for the first several weeks of life.

I know that I am not the only one who had a hard time with breastfeeding. I have heard other moms say that breastfeeding is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. But since nursing is by far the healthiest and most cost-effective option for feeding your newborn, I offer you some tips for success.

Invest in a Brest Friend pillow.  Although I was hesitant to buy a $50 pillow, I found that it was well worth the money. It gave stable support to my daughter’s body and made it easy to get her into a good positioning for nursing.

Learn the side lying position.  Finally learning this nursing position when my daughter was about two-months-old made my life so much better – I wish I’d gotten it down sooner.  When you’re exhausted in the middle of the night, it’s much easier to lie in bed and nurse than to sit up in a chair. You can watch videos of this and other breastfeeding positions on YouTube to learn how it’s done.

Splurge on a double electric breast pump.  Even if you’re not planning on returning to work, this is an important investment – and your insurance company may even reimburse you. You will want the option of occasionally having someone else bottlefeed your baby, and it will be difficult to get enough milk without a double electric pump. Once we got the go ahead from the lactation specialist to bottlefeed, my husband took over one feeding per night. This allowed me to get much-needed four-hour stretches of sleep.

Catch up on your reading list. Reality check – you are going to be spending about eight hours a day breastfeeding your newborn. It can get a little boring. Get some good books or movies to keep your mind occupied and to help make this time more fun for you.

Be positive. Breastfeeding a newborn can be difficult, but it gets easier and more rewarding as time goes on. My daughter and I had a challenging start to our nursing relationship, and it took about a month to figure things out. Now, she is almost 11 months old and I’m still nursing her. Breastfeeding has given her the healthiest possible start to life, helped us bond, saved me time cleaning and sterilizing bottles, and saved our family more than a thousand dollars in formula costs. It has been well worth the challenges.

Candle-flame-no-reflection

 

 

The other week, I attended a dinner party hosted by a lovely couple who had recently lost their baby.  At 38 weeks, he was full-term, ready to join our world. Now, a flickering candle keeps alive the memory of the child they almost had.

I was invited because my husband and I had made them dinner in the weeks following their loss. I was a little nervous about going to dinner. Having a young baby myself, I didn’t want to be a reminder of their pain — as if they could forget.

I was glad to see them strong and healthy, able to talk about their loss without tears. Able to talk about their hopes for a future baby, to smile and laugh.

They were still standing, this attractive and successful couple who had experienced every parent’s greatest fear. It’s hard to imagine surviving such a loss, going back to ordinary routines of work and television and dinners with friends. But what else can you do?

The wife said it helps her to think that her baby is in heaven, and that God needed him for some other task. I’m glad she believes that. And I’m glad I believe it too.

Sometimes it’s easy for me to lose sight of the bigger picture in the midst of the day-to-day. I get caught up in laundry and diaper changes and paying bills. I can forget that I believe in a God who loves me and has an underlying purpose for my life. I forget about my belief that my true home is in heaven. I like how C.S. Lewis describes heaven in The Great Divorce, as a reality even more real than this earth. The ultimate reality.

Still in spite of that, the idea of losing someone I love is devastating to contemplate. To open your heart to love is to be vulnerable to loss.  It would be safer not to love at all. But without love, we would strip life of its meaning. I am so thankful for my daughter and my husband, the joys and struggles and love we share.

 

-UC

(Candle photograph from Wikimedia Commons)