Whenever I say that I played basketball, I get that look of disbelief and shock. I am 5′ 1″, and clearly I did not play center. For those of you not familiar with basketball, I played two positions: point guard and shooting guard. My size made other players doubt my abilities to hit the three-point shot and to block shots. Yes, you read that correctly. I blocked shots because I jumped. Thank you to my dance teacher for teaching me how to jump correctly. I did not have any sports-related injuries in the seven years that I played basketball.
After a soul crushing loss of our beloved Badgers basketball team this past Monday night, I started reflecting on how much I loved to play. Basketball was the first sport that challenged me. Women’s basketball was not broadcast on television like it was today, so I grew up emulating the style of the college basketball players. When I watched Coach Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers play, it reminded me of my playing days. I even remembered with fondness how much fun line drills were. At least they were for me. I loved to sprint, and basketball was where I first learned how to really run and sprint. Our warm-up in my first year of high school was five laps around the gym and full-court layups.
I started basketball as a child that struggled with staying healthy. I left basketball at the end of my junior year of high school as an athlete who played with speed, grit and heart. I quit playing because I had lost my passion for the sport. I still miss the game, and I hesitate to play in open gyms at the local Y for the main reason that I would be the only woman. I shoot around with my girls on our hoop, and I work with both of them on learning the fundamentals – dribbling. I coached middle school basketball before my girls were born, and I have already let our principal know that I will definitely volunteer to coach once my girls are old enough to play. Does anyone else struggle with fitting in an old sport back into their lives? Enough women’s only basketball leagues? Should I start one?
Last week was spring break for us. I hadn’t planned on taking a break from the blog, but I did. I got to finally make my way through three books (paper editions) which was so fantastic. We went to the Kalahari water park in the Dells, and my girls blossomed into fish. I loved watching both Munch and Skeeter really take to the water and the pools. They both overcame some hesitancy and fear to ride a few of the slides by themselves. Munch in particular benefited from her recent growth spurt. She was able to ride all but one or two of the rides based on her height. Skeeter found one ride that she went on nearly the entire day. She was sad that I could not get on this same slide. I told her that these slides were for kids, and Mama was just enough over the maximum weight limit that I did not want to risk it.
The reentry back into our normal routine has been challenging, to say the least. We had no set schedules on vacation, and we did not have to be anywhere by a certain time. Combine that with still adjusting to daylight savings time plus a sick child at the tail end of vacation makes for one stressed out mama at the beginning of the week. When life and routine bogs me down, I try to take a step back and gain some much-needed perspective. I look at all the pictures I took, and I see all the fun that we had. I am blessed, and I am grateful for the respite from our daily routine. I got back into my workout routine, and that has helped me banish the stress from the early part of the week. Does anyone else get this vacation hangover?
I have the pleasure of being over at Postpartum Progress this week. It is my honor and privilege to be a member of the editorial team. This week, I am discussing one of the most personal topics of my struggle. I have never posted in detail on my blog about my struggle with postpartum rage. Join me please. Help me smash stigma by talking about the struggles that new parents go through. We are none of us alone.
My breakfast consists of a super food shake. It is a meal replacement shake. Prior to my introduction to Shakeology, I only knew of meal replacement shakes that people drank after weight loss surgery or as a part of a medically approved weight loss program. I agreed to try this product out based on the recommendation of a friend of mine who was an RN. I was a little skeptical at first, but then I became a believer of this product.
Shakeology satisfies me. The chocolate flavor quenches my sweet tooth. I am not tempted to grab a doughnut on my way into the office in the morning. I It starts my morning off right. I used to be hungry about a half hour after my breakfast. I love the fact that this is a quick, easy meal that I do not have to think about. I can mix it up in a minute and be out the door in the morning. I use the chocolate Shakelogy, 8 oz of skim milk or almond milk, 1 tbsp of peanut butter, 1/2 banana, and 4 ice cubes all blended up together.
I no longer take the probiotics I was taking on a daily basis for my microscopic colitis. My colitis flares disappeared once I started drinking Shakeology and eating clean. I saved money on the probiotics which were only a twenty-eight day supply which meant that I purchased them every four weeks at anywhere from twenty to nearly thirty dollars. I have struggled with a few bouts of rotovirus, and I have continued to drink the shake on those days. In fact it was one of the few things that I could stomach while battling the “puke bug” as my daughter called it. If Shakeology interests you, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can chat about it.
My husband and I could not do this journey alone. It truly does take a village. In the case of our sweet Skeeter, we receive some additional help to manage her vesicouretal reflux – in laymen’s terms, bladder reflux. Each year the little lady heads back to our local Children’s Hospital for a renal ultrasound to keep track of her kidney growth and to get a check up from our nurse practitioner at the urology clinic.
Since the Child Life Specialist made such an amazing difference last year, I did not hesitate to request that we have someone with us for the ultrasound. Unfortunately the specialist wasn’t able to be there yesterday. We had an amazing Ultrasound tech who was an angel. Skeeter answered all her questions, and she asked questions of her own. The tech explained how ultrasound creates the images which fascinated Skeeter. The whole exam took ten minutes. Skeeter and I headed back through the complex to the Urology clinic with time for me to stop and get a much-needed boost of caffeine.
Skeeter was in her element once we met our nurse practitioner. She had to show all the cool things that she can do now that she is a big girl. Skeeter told her all about school. Based on her progress, we got the fantastic news that Skeeter does not need to be seen again for a check up for two years! I am so relieved, and you can tell by the photo above that my sweet girl is also delighted with the news. I know that these check ups are important to track the growth of her kidneys and continue to monitor her bladder reflux to ensure that she is not struggling with bladder infections. To read more about Skeeter’s journey, please see the following posts: https://tranquilamama.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/dare-to-care-skeeters-story/, http://hardtomommy.blogspot.com/2012/02/guest-post-when-kids-are-sick.html, and https://tranquilamama.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/skeeters-tough-day/.
I saw this amazing post, and I had to add my take on it. Social media like Facebook can cause you to compare yourself to the mama who seems to have it all together. I would see these blog posts and adorable pictures, and I would berate myself. Why didn’t I have it together? Why couldn’t I reach out to friends and schedule play dates with my friends who were SAHMs? I suffered in silence, and I withdrew from my friends and family. I felt so much self-loathing and hatred towards myself. I felt like I did not deserve my beautiful family. I hated the person I had become. I treated the loves of my lives with rage, irritability and frustration. If I treated the people I loved that way, how could I fake it for anyone else? I could not keep up that facade. The depression and the anxiety threatened to consume me. My loved ones knew that I was struggling, but they felt powerless to help me. No one knew exactly what to say.
Janelle so eloquently tells us in her post to just ask the mom how she is really doing. Look her in the eyes. If you hear a little catch in her voice on the phone, go see her in person. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders make women isolate themselves at a time when we need the support and love of our community. Connection and community are what that struggling new mom needs. That is what I needed. It does not take much to make a struggling mom feel heard and validated. Sometimes words aren’t even necessary; just a simple hug can make a world of difference.
Motherhood should not equal martyrdom, but that is how I approached those early years. I felt like I had to sacrifice everything for my daughters. I worked full-time, and I spent quite a bit of time nursing and pumping. I felt like I could not take any time away from my darling girls since I spent so much time away from them. I started to resent them for taking everything from me. What I failed to realize was that I forgot to fill up my cup. I felt so guilty about taking any time away from my children for self-care. I felt like I was deserting them. I had forgotten that I was a person with needs. How could I take care of others if I did not take care of myself? My girls understand the value of self-care now at ages four and seven. They understand that Mommy and Daddy have outside interests and hobbies. When they protested this weekend that I was going for a run, I reminded them that I had been especially cranky this past week due to a lack of intense exercise. After a few minutes of debate, they acquiesced. Nearly an hour later, I returned from a five-mile run refreshed and recharged. I found this podcast a while ago, and it really resonated with me. https://powerofmoms.com/radio-episode-10/ This podcast title inspired me so much that I made it the title of this post.
I wonder often why I did not struggle when Munch was born. I worried about everything. I know that I had anxiety then, but I talked about all my worries and fears. I leaned on my extended family and my friends. We struggled on our breastfeeding journey. I felt uncomfortable nursing Munch in front of anyone except a handful of people.
With Skeeter I felt more confident in my parenting choices and decisions. To that end, my beliefs left no wiggle room. I was adamant that I would exclusively breastfeed for six months. When Skeeter required formula after birth to treat low blood sugar, I was so upset. I wasn’t able to control this situation. Thankfully that was a tiny blip. Skeeter latched on and nursed like a champ. She and I had a great nursing journey. I nursed my sweet girl for nineteen months. With Skeeter as my husband so eloquently put it, I’d “feed her anywhere and everywhere”. I was not going to feel shamed for nursing in public like I had been with Munch.
To that end, my staunch beliefs kept me from reaching out and asking for help. When I started struggling, I did not call anyone. I retreated into myself. I focused on my family. I felt like I had to soldier on. The mantra of “our choices, our family” left me stuck feeling like it was just my husband and I against the world. How could anyone else possibly understand our reality?
In hindsight I realize how flawed my logic was. My anxiety and depression manifested in black and white thinking. I had to maintain a veneer of control. What kind of person or mom was I that I could not control my thoughts? The intrusive thoughts came at me like images from a movie. I hated myself so much for being an utter failure as a wife and as a mother. I could not make any decisions. The depression paralyzed me. I prided myself on being detailed and focused. I lost all of that. Gone was the ability to plan and organize.
I still struggle with my need to be perfect and in control. My self esteem took a beating when I struggled with my PPD and PPA. Now I recognize the negative thoughts and beliefs in my mind. I can stop that tape and turn those thoughts into affirmations. I am perfectly imperfect. I hope to instill that in my girls.