Thursday, February 28, 2008

Confession 32: A Matter of Salt

At my ob/gyn visit yesterday, I asked my doctor about the possibility of taking Zoloft again to help manage some overly active emotional activity. I explained to him that I'd been feeling extremely frustrated, overwhelmed, and a bit anxious over some various things. He told me that new studies are showing a potential risk to unborn children from anti-depressants, and that doctors are more hesitant now to prescribe them to expectant mothers. I was, actually, having done some of my own research on the matter, fine with that. Although there are some cases where it can't be avoided and women with severe depression should definitely stay on their medication, I don't really fall into either of those categories. So, I'm going to work on controlling my temper, cry whenever I want, and try not to worry about all of the bad things that could happen to my son which I can't control anyway. (This last one, I think, stems from the fact that I'm realizing our time with just Garrett is ending.)

One of the more interesting parts of the conversation with my ob/gyn was when he explained to me all that is physiologically going on with my body right now. Apparently, a part of the emotional overload which comes during many pregnancies is really an issue of salt. Pregnant women retain salt more than those who aren't. The retention of that salt puts pressure on the various organs of your body, including the brain. And, those pressure points from the salt tend to really push against the emotional control center of the brain, making one (me) a little nutty. That, combined with the increased levels of estrogen in your system (especially during a second pregnancy when the hormones build much quicker than the first) are enough to send anyone over the edge at times. So, he told me to lessen my salt intake, increase my fluids, and maybe try some vitamin B. He also told me to keep him posted on how I was feeling.

This whole discussion got me thinking about Lot's wife, you know, the pillar of salt. I know there's no direct correlation here, but there's something to the fact that in her inability to let go emotionally she was turned into salt, and that salt can have such an impact on the emotional sensibilities of (at least) pregnant women. I always kind of thought Lot's wife got a raw deal, I mean, change is hard. But if we keep looking to the past, we can never move forward. If we've got too much salt on the brain, we can't look beyond ourselves to see what God has in store. So, what's the point? I don't know... maybe Lot's wife should have had a big glass of water before setting off into the desert. In any case, it's an interesting theory, and one that demonstrates the continually fascinating aspects of the human body.

Blessings and Peace,

** A little disclaimer-- although I can be somewhat flippant about my own emotional roller coasters, I really believe that anti-depressants are a wonderful invention and do great things for people who truly suffer from anxiety disorders and depression, which, I know for a fact, are very real.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Little Signs and Wonders

Sometimes I think that many of my most ardent prayers fall on deaf ears. For instance, when I was up last night/morning at 4:15 A.M. with a 20 month old who was fighting off sleep, I fervently prayed for calmness and patience to withstand the ordeal, and not to plop him on the floor, alone in the dark, and go back to bed myself. Instead of finding a calm within a storm, I found tears-- lots of them, that I shed for about an hour while my son FINALLY went back to sleep, although, not in time for me to get some extra rest too. And, I must confess, my fury didn't give way completely either, for after I put my son back in his bed, I preceded to slam the bathroom door to our bedroom as hard as I possibly could to wake my still sleeping husband and threw one of the cats (literally) out of the bathroom when he was whining for his breakfast.

I've really been struggling emotionally through this pregnancy, and it's starting to get on my nerves. When I was pregnant with Garrett, I was the calmest I'd been in my entire life, I think. Even my sister commented on how collected and together I was while pregnant. This time around, the opposite is true. I'm moody, tempermental, angry, and now, weepy. I snap at my husband and my son, going so far as to throw one of my son's books across the room when he decided he wanted to do that instead of go to bed last night. With the anger and snappishness of course come huge loads of guilt and self-loathing which leads back to the weepy-ness. However, I've found in the past few days that just when I think I've reached my limit and can't take anymore, God shows himself in small, unexpected ways.

The first was a conversation I had with my best friend who is now expecting their third child. She told me that she experienced much of what I was describing while pregnant with their second child. Her blood pressure was always up, she was constantly snapping at her husband, and she got extremely furious with their son at least once a day. She assured me that she had talked to other mothers who had a similar experience, and that I was not alone in this hormonal crisis.

The second little ray of hope was a conversation I had today with a colleague who has four children, the youngest of whom is 21 months. She too had been up through the night with her toddler, although her experience included skidding barefoot through dog pee and being told by her husband that she was, essentially, being crabby. She very easily could relate to what I've been feeling, and since she has four healthy, well-adjusted children, I figure it will all be o.k.

I know, in the end, that this too shall pass. And I thank God constantly for our son, even in the midst of my anger and frustration he causes. I'm also very grateful today to know that God is still listening to my hormonal rantings and ravings, and that, although I might feel alone at times, is still letting me know he's there.

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Trouble with "T&A"

I had a student in class last week ask me toward the beginning of the hour if he could ask me a question. I looked at him carefully. Although he seemed sincere enough, this is a student who will look for any excuse to get out of working. And-- since his friend was whispering to him, "Don't ask! I think I know what it means-- don't ask!"-- I told him that I wasn't going to answer anything until he got his work finished for the day.

Toward the end of the hour, when there were a couple of minutes left, he asked me again if he could pose his question. Against my better judgment, I said, "Sure-go ahead." So, here it is...

"Well, someone in our class last hour told another kid that his mom had won a T&A contest. What does that mean?"

I immediately wanted to start banging my head against my desk. I suddenly had 15 pairs of ears and eyes tuned to my every word, something that just doesn't happen throughout the course of the day. My problem was, despite the obvious, that he was completely sincere in his question. He honestly had no idea what the phrase "T&A" meant and thought that I could tell him. Three thoughts went through my mind. My first thought was, "Can I get fired for answering this question?" Followed by, "If I don't answer this question, how big a deal will they make of it?" (There's a similar experience here involving the phrase "S&M" and a computer lab which I was drawing from.) And, finally, "How much integrity will I lose if I avoid this issue all together?"

So, with a moment of careful consideration, I formulated my answer...

"Well, 'T&A' is a really not nice way to refer to a woman's top and bottom parts. And it's an extremely rude thing to say."

There was a general murmuring of "ohhhh..." across the classroom, followed by a few, "I still don't get it"'s. Yet, overall, the topic was quickly forgotten and the students haven't brought it up since. I still wondered if I had done the right thing. Did I give them more information han they needed to know? Did I help to pollute their already too sullied minds? There's such a fine line in working with teenagers. I've always believed that as an adult working with teens, you need to be honest. I've found that it's a credibility issue for teens, and if they think you're just trying to spin something, or hide something from them, then you lose your ability to interact and work with them. On the other hand, if you try and be too much like them, go into BFF mode, you lose your ability to really teach and minister to them. You have to earn their trust, yet be the responsible adult at the same time.

In the end, I feel good about my answer. I don't know that this conversation would have taken place in many other classrooms, but that's o.k. And, of course, I will be taking fewer questions from the peanut gallery!

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Counting Blessings

Looking back at my blog page, I can't believe it's been four months since I last posted! Where does time go? Actually, I know exactly where it goes. Work, family, sleep. But, it's all good really. I'm about five and a half months along in my pregnancy, and things seem to be going really well. We had an ultrasound last month and got a really cool 3-D picture of Baby Dos's face. It's incredible what technology can do. So far, this one isn't as active as Garrett was, which could be a very good thing.

Garrett is 20 months old now, and may be entering into his rebellious stage. (I refrain from using the term "terrible two's" because he's not really terrible, just frustrating.) He's been testing Mommy and Daddy to no end the past few weeks. Many common phrases heard around our house lately are: "Don't you use that spoon as a weapon!", "Let go of the dog's tail!", "Don't pull the dinosaur's head off!", "Where are your pants?", "Sit down-- on your bottom!". Obviously, my master's degree in education is being put to great use! Garrett is proving to be his mother's son. He is willful and stubborn, and nothing seems to deter him much when there's something he's intent on doing. It's very tempting sometimes to just walk away and let him climb onto the table to chase the cat, but I suppose there's no lesson learned in that. Eating and going to sleep are constant battles in our house. Garrett has determined that the only table foods he's going to eat are oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, crackers, chips and french fries. Oh, and the occasional tub of ravioli. Except, of course, when he's at the babysitters, for whom I think he would eat a five-course meal.

I was recently lamenting all of these things to a church member we were visiting, when she reminded me how blessed we were to have these toddler trials and tribulations. Her grandson, who is a little over a year now, just finished treatments for cancer and is now in remission. I started thinking about all of the mother's out there whose children aren't eating well because of sickness or lack of food. Of mother's who dread bedtime, not because it's a fight to get their child to bed, but because there's a fear that they won't wake in the morning. And I realized, in that moment, how wonderful it is to have a child who can chase the cats around the house, who can bring me the same book 300 times in a row to read, who can yank a spoon out of my hand and fling food all over the kitchen-- a child I can hold in the middle of the night when he wakes up and gently rock back to sleep, a child who wakes up singing happily to himself in the morning (at least for a few minutes) and can look forward to a carefree day.

I didn't get my son a gift for Valentine's Day, mostly because we have no money and he doesn't notice anyway. (He also got a balloon from the ladies at the local flower shop which he likes better than most of the toys he has.) But I was thinking, although Valentine's Day has passed, about making a small donation to St. Jude's Children's Hospital, or giving a mosquito net to Nothing But Nets. Some small token that could potentially make a difference for another child, and allow another mother to experience the everyday frustrations and blessings that should come with a 20 month old.

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2