Archive for September, 2014

And The Rain Came Down

2- 4X6, large Wedding Bliss

Keeping a marriage strong is hard work. Add cultural differences and it’s really hard. Multiply that with a kid and it’s really, really hard. Add twins and, well, you can imagine. It is exponentially hard when mental illness is thrown in the equation. Amor and I have had our share of difficulties over the years, but nothing like after the birth of our twins.

All of our children have an amazing anointing over their lives. I believe that all children are born with a specific purpose and plan (Jeremiah 29:11) but that not all great things come to fruition in one’s life because Satan meddles and gets lives off track. God can turn all that around of course and use what Satan had twisted for evil and use it for good (Romans 8:28). But one can avoid so much pain and confusion and time by following God in the first place. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). This is the goal for my children. They are going to be “Earthquakers” and shake things up here on earth for the glory of God.

In our lives, Satan has been trying to meddle; trying to annihilate what he knows is trouble for his attempts to kill, steal, and destroy. One way he’s been trying to get at our little anointed ones is by attacking our marriage. I am married to a very brilliant man who is very smart and talented in many diverse areas. Being a stay-at-home dad, however, is not his forte. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was unable to take care of Mica and Hope the way I had before. Amor (who lost his job when he asked for time off) had to take over. Due to cultural differences, and the fact that he’s never been responsible for this area of our lives made the transition difficult for us all. Structure, discipline and consistency are not traits he grew up with or puts much emphasis on.

The babies were born in the summer. By the time school started for Mica, we had very different ideas of how to handle parenting issues. We also disagreed about the best way to handle various baby issues. His point of view was that, Biblically speaking, he is the head of the household and I should submit to him. My point of view was that this is my area of expertise. I have practical experience. I have a degree in this. I have studied Child Psychology and Behavioral Psychology. I have read numerous books and countless articles on parenting. I talk to other parents and pay attention to how those I admire handle situations. I watch “Super Nanny.” In the past, his job was to be the breadwinner. My job was to raise our daughter and be CEO of our home. He had no idea what my job entailed.

Amor quickly became overloaded and overwhelmed. Satan attacked his mind: Instead of looking for solutions, he decided the best thing to do was to relieve stress with alcohol, but he knew that I would never go for that. We’ve been down that destructive road before. He became resentful of me and hostile towards me. He theorized that alcohol should be his “medication.” After all, I take medication. What’s the difference?
I quickly became terrified and defensive. Satan attacked my mind: What if he leaves me alone with three kids? What if he leaves me and tries to take our kids? Could he claim I’m an unfit mother for taking medication (and being “on drugs”)? Could he claim I’m an unfit mother for not being medicated (and being “crazy”)?

The “D” word had never come up before in our 9 years of marriage. It was excruciating to consider.

We were at each other’s throats for weeks, both aggravated and unwilling to concede. I used to hide these kinds of issues, out of fear, embarrassment, or privacy, but the truth is, I realized that we needed help. I told everyone, “Hey, Satan is attacking my marriage, please pray!” We eventually went to see my Christian counselor who delicately explained what God says about all of these issues.

The next day, I noticed an attitude change. He was purposefully trying to be nice. I returned the gesture. Things have gotten better. Godly advice and the power of prayer have definitely improved our relationship. It’s still a struggle, though and no doubt we will always have to fight to keep what we have alive and well. Prayers are encouraged and appreciated.

Double Talk Story: Amor kept “messing” with me before the mandated postpartum 6 weeks had passed, despite me telling him countless times to leave me alone. Finally, aggravated and exasperated I grabbed my pen, pinned him down, and wrote “Do not mess with Corazón!” on his right hand. The girls saw this and, thinking it was funny, started chasing him down and coloring him with markers.

Bible Verses: Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Word that has Lost its meaning: Privacy

Relatable Lyrics: “Two Sets of Jones’” by Big Tent Revival – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQE5PNRLZ40&list=LLmekDNA5dH80KEriIgwZLZQ&index=17

Written – Started: September 10, 2014 (10 weeks old) – Completed: September 30, 2014 (3 months)

Dirty Dishes & Folded Panties

Mica & dirty dishes

I am a “work before play” kind of person. When I was a little girl, I used to do all my homework on the bus so that when I got home I could go straight to playing. When I got older, I never wore much make-up, not because I didn’t care how I looked, but because I had better things to do besides stand in front of a mirror looking at myself. When I got my first apartment, I made up a schedule to take 10 minutes or less per day to clean my home. I worked quickly so that I could enjoy my reward of being done and being able to relax without some responsibility hanging over my head. Some might call it lazy. As it turns out, there is a fine line between laziness and efficiency.

In this house, there are 3 newborns, 2 new mothers, 2 exhausted husbands, 1 stressed-out grandma, 1 rambunctious six year old, 3 cats, 2 dogs and 2 possibly belly-up gold fish (I’m not sure, I haven’t checked in a while). Who’s going to cook? Who’s going to clean? Who’s going to do the laundry? It’s quite a challenge.

If cleanliness is next to Godliness then I’m sitting in the back row. It’s not so much that things are dirty as they are cluttered. I came to the realization while I was pregnant that I just wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything. And I can’t. I have to prioritize what’s important to me. At this time, I don’t care if the floor gets mopped; I’ll get to that when the babies start crawling. I don’t care that there are dishes in the sink from last night; they’ll wait, believe me. I don’t care if my shirt’s a little wrinkled; it’s got spit-up all over it anyway. Grandma, I love you and I love it when you help me with my laundry. Please don’t stop. But please, please, please don’t fold my underwear. You’re wasting your time. Not to mention those are my own personal “unmentionables”.

(Written August 25, 2014 – 8 weeks old)

Term that has Lost its meaning: “A place for everything and everything in its place”

Bible Verse: Luke 10:40-41 “But her sister Martha was busy doing all the work that had to be done. Martha went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are getting worried and upset about too many things.”

Double Talk Quote
: “Mica said she had a wet diaper.” – Grandma. What she meant: “Mica said Bella had a wet diaper.” Pronoun usage – implies Mica had a wet diaper.

Relatable Lyrics: “Some Might Say” by Oasis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJUSKRyeFpo

A NEW song for your brain

A new song for your brain

In a depressed mind, neurotransmitters do not work properly. Often the problem is complicated by the fact that neural pathways that have already been formed are often the “go-to” route because they have been used so much. They are the “beaten path” so to speak. A tired brain which is not functioning properly anyway says to itself, “Go the way you know.” In a depressed brain that way is usually a depressed path.

Current path: negative thought –→ acceptance of negative thought –→ obsession on negative thought –→ negative feeling –→ possible negative action

It is very difficult to break that pattern. However, brains are very resilient and are abundantly blessed with neuroplasticity. It is like any muscle movement that has become a habit. Have you ever learned to play a particular song on an instrument and always seem to err at one particular place every time? Your fingers have learned to take the wrong pathway. You correct the problem by practicing a new movement. The same is true for our thinking patterns. The brain has hardwired itself to think a certain way, but it can be retrained! Reprogram Neural Synapse Pathways using affirmations and scriptures.

New Path: negative thought → recognition of thought → replace with TRUE thought backed by scripture → positive feelings → positive action

Satan is the author of confusion and a proficient liar. Why do we even think negative thoughts? They are the whispers of Satan to God’s anointed people. Give your brain a new song today!

11 lbs 9 oz of Happiness

Sarah Happy

My sister, Sarah, and I learned we were pregnant on the same day. Our due dates were only two days apart. Although we were both with child / children, I felt very distant from her. We both have mood disorders and both had very pronounced pregnancy symptoms. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t live together at that time. Right now, it’s great! Better than great! Although we share our hardships, we don’t really commiserate very much. We have only had one pity party where we both broke down in tears, but we usually lift each other up.

Sarah laughs. She always has. She laughs and laughs and makes everybody else laugh and laugh. She laughs so much, could have named her son Isaac. But she didn’t. She gave him another Hebrew name: Asher, which means happy blessing.

I am so proud of Sarah. I am so honored to be her sister. I am so honored to be a mother at the same time with her. And I love my nephew, the little bundle of joy, who weighed, at birth, a measly 11lbs. 9oz.

Double Talk Quote: “She had almost as much baby in her as you did!” Grandma to me

Relatable Lyrics: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEN9I8jJ0Nk&index=1&list=LLmekDNA5dH80KEriIgwZLZQ

Verse: Genesis 18:12 “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?””

Term that has Lost its meaning: Good night’s rest

Written: August 25 and September 15, 2014 (8 and 11 weeks old)

Big Sissy

- Big Sissy -

I knew that having babies would have an effect on Mica. I knew she’d be excited but that there would be many adjustments to make. I knew it would be difficult for her to go to bed on her own and get herself ready for things in a timely fashion. But she has done surprisingly well with both of those issues, considering the bad habits we had tolerated for so long (sleeping in our bed, dawdling, etc.). I also knew she’d get very bored, which I was right about, too. For the first couple of weeks after the babies arrived, she ever so patiently put up with being cooped up in the house with two screaming infants without complaint. I guess it was due to the excitement and newness of it all. But then, welcome to boredom city! I enrolled her in VBS (but then forgot to take her, oops), sent her to the library with Grandma, encouraged her to read and watch what she had borrowed from the library, asked Starla to take her to Chuck-E-Cheese’s, played board games and helped her with projects whenever I got a free hand, and allowed cousin Hope to come over. That took care of all of 4% of the boredom she felt. Finally, I turned to Facebook friends for help with this plea: “Mica is going a little stir-crazy. Anyone want to take her for a play date sometime?” and tagged all her friend’s parents in the post. The response was actually pretty good. She went on three play dates this past week and I have another two tentatively planned for next week. I can tell a huge difference when she gets a chance to get out of the house. Now when she says she’s bored, I can remind her of what she’s got coming up. If she just can’t wait until then, I tell her to clean something, or practice her school work. That usually stops the complaint for a while.

There were two things I did not anticipate from Mica that surprised me. I knew that she would take the role of “big sissy” seriously. I just didn’t realize how seriously. From the moment she met them, it was like she was a little mommy, instinctively knowing exactly what to do, from how to hold them, to soothing their crying. She is the best helper ever! If anything, she is too over-the-top with her mommying antics. She wants to kiss them all the time, hold them all the time, change their diapers, pick them up whenever they cry and feed them herself. “Herself” is a very important word. It’s as if she gets insulted when anyone tries to help her take care of them. At only one week, she believed herself an expert at carrying them around. We would let her try, as long as she had someone to “spot” her, usually Amor. But she would get so aggravated and complain that Daddy was always “snatching the baby” from her. One night she begged to pick up Bella and bring her to me. Amor insisted on spotting her and Mica agreed on the condition that he not snatch her. Well, sure enough, Amor didn’t think she was doing it right and tried to take Bella away from her. I could tell Mica had a good grip on her so I just laughed when she turned away from him, Bella in tow, and started running, yelling “My baby! My baby! My baby!” The next day while at the doctor’s office for a scheduled appointment, we asked him to make it a rule, no picking up or carrying the babies. That way he was the bad guy, not us. It’s doctor’s orders.

The second thing I didn’t anticipate, or even consider beforehand, was the running commentary that Mica creates. She talks nonstop! I can’t determine if this is a new behavior or one I just never noticed before. With her as my only child, I always made a point of paying attention to whatever was on her mind. I want her to grow up knowing that her thoughts and opinions matter. But I’m finding it extremely difficult to focus now. At any given time, I have Amor asking me questions, the TV on in the background, various babies crying with specific needs, my own mind running thoughts, and then there’s Mica’s little voice in the background, filling up any chance of a quiet moment. Her chatter involves 3 methods: copying the noises the babies make, reenacting the thing the baby just did, or translating what the baby is thinking as he or she bellows. That is in addition to voicing her own needs and complaints. With me being so busy with the babies, Amor has been the one more “in charge” of her lately and he has his own way of dealing with her that is much different than my approach. She often comes to me to challenge and complain about him. She is also very adept at the art of debate. Argumentative, dogmatic, and always right… my mom always facetiously hoped for me to have a little girl who was just like me. I guess she got her wish.

Double Talk Quote
: Mica – “Mommy, I was quiet for an hour!”

Relatable Lyrics: “Fireflies” by Owl City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDHvX5ImRgA&index=4&list=LLmekDNA5dH80KEriIgwZLZQ

Verse: “A friend loves at all times and a brother (or sister) was born for help in a time of need” Psalm 17:17

Word that has lost its meaning: (to me, anyway) Boring

Written: July 27, 2014 (4 weeks)

Big Sissy 2Big Sissy Kiss

Manic Mom

SuperBella!

I’ve been pretty manic lately and it seems like the creativity just pours out of my mouth or fingertips. Ideas barely have time to form before I get a chance to respond to them. I looked up postpartum mania but I didn’t find much. Most articles are about postpartum depression and/or psychosis. Is mania really that rare? If not, why isn’t anyone talking about it?

Every morning I wake up feeling like supermommy. Every night as I’m drifting off into Ambien-induced oblivion, I feel beat down. The feeling of grandeur replaced by self proclaimed shame and inadequacy. I’m not depressed, however, just irritated; Irritated that I can’t be perfect.

Writing has been therapeutic for me. Sometimes I talk and talk. It’s obvious that people can hear me but they are not listening. Writing, even when it goes unread, has been the only way I’ve found to release that aggravated ecstasy I feel within. Mania feels so good to me. Apparently it doesn’t feel so good to those around me. Also, I’ve been manic enough in the past to know that what goes up must come down. I cannot be depressed with three kids. History has taught me that I can’t even be depressed with one kid and get away with it.

My counselor recommended (and Amor demanded) that I go see my psychiatrist. She put me on a combo of meds that have worked for me in the past. All they did this time, however, was dry up my once-ever-so-abundant milk supply. I stopped taking them. Want to see me depressed? Yeah, take away my ability to feed my children! As the wise old turtle, Ooguay, from Kung Fu Panda says, “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” Please Lord, destine me for joy, not depression!

Double Talk Quote: “I need to use the restroom. I’m going to the attic.” – Amor

Relatable Lyrics: “I’m no Superman” by Lazlo Bane https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQjFHxJ9IKs

Verse: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Word that has Lost its meaning
: Coincidence (God ordains everything)

August 25, 2014 (8 weeks old)
SuperKids!

Time to Brush Your Teeth

Mica Smiles

 

Amor has heard me tell Mica time and time again that it’s time to brush her teeth. Apparently, being from Mexico (where dental hygiene education is not stressed in the schools or by the government like it is in the USA) and from a family with nine children of a single mom, this was not something he heard a lot while growing up. Also, Mica’s cousin, Hope (whose mommy is also from Mexico and from the same family) has had serious dental issues. For this reason, I’ve always stressed the importance of oral hygiene to Mica (out loud) and explained why she needed to brush, floss and rinse and what would happen if she didn’t. I even wrote an English/Spanish song about it to sing to Mica and Hope each morning and night! I have found that educating my children out loud is a very good method of educating the adults around me without offending anyone or sounding preachy. (Uh oh – I’m giving up trade secrets here).

Mica and Amor know where bad breath comes from. They’ve heard me talk about good germs / bad germs enough to make them sick! So naturally, after the babies were born, rule number one was: wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handling the babies. But people don’t just handle babies, especially people in my family. Their little baby heads, cheeks, hands, neck and feet get kissed all over. It wasn’t long before we noticed some visitors and family members whose breath was less than desirable. Theorizing that bad breath equals bad germs, Amor announced that anyone handling babies not only needed hand sanitizer, but also must brush his or her teeth first.

This turned out to be quite an impractical demand. I would be alone with the babies and get stressed out. By the time I would ask for help, I usually needed it immediately. Grandma or Mica would say, “Okay, but I gotta brush my teeth first!” Then I’d be there with babies both needing something and me being unable to help them for another two minutes. Two minutes may sound trivial but it is an eternity in “double baby crying” time. Finally, I told Amor we had to get some gum with Xylitol. We put a little bowl in each room and by the front door (replacing the value pack toothbrushes purchased for visitors) and began to simply offer people gum.
I even had to resort to chewing gum instead of brushing a time or two. There have been days that I literally did not have time or available hands for brushing. Other days I’ve brushed multiple times because I couldn’t remember if I’d brushed them earlier or not. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “Time to brush your teeth.”

Double Talk Quote: Baby Brooks was choking, and Amor was going to use an aspirator called the “Snot Sucker” (sounds gross but it does have a filter!). Amor had just woken up and was obviously not thinking clearly. Before he started to use the aspirator, he said “Wait – should I brush my teeth first?” “Don’t you think we should get him breathing again first!?!” I snapped. It was such a serious situation but at least we can look back on it now and find some humor in it.

Relatable Lyrics: “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKP4cfU28vM

Verse: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:10

Word that has lost its meaning: Free Moment

(written at 6 weeks)

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