Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Beautiful Mama Blog Award March 18, 2013

A huge THANK YOU to Julia of Wailings of a Work at Home Mom who nominated me for the Beautiful Mama Blog Award! Julia continuously reminds me that one of the greatest joys of motherhood is reliving your childhood with your children. I always thought I’d be a wonderful mother because I could empathize so well with children. I was a great babysitter, the coolest camp counselor, and the biggest clown all-around. I thought I’d never lose my playful spirit, my outgoing persona, my zest for adventure. I may not have lost those pieces of me, but they’ve certainly been suppressed by the negativity of the past eight years. I want to enjoy life the way I used to; back when I was making life and life wasn’t making me, back when I saw beauty in the simplicity of things, as children do.

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Rule of the Award:

  • Click the above image and use it in your acceptance post.
  • List three things you love about motherhood.
  • Nominate as many moms as you like and let them know of the award

 

Motherhood is amazing for a zillion reasons, but if I have to narrow it down to three…

  1. Pregnancy and Birth-  no matter how discomforting, trying, grueling, intense, or any million types of difficult these stages can be, they are also amazing, sacred, awe-inspiring gifts from nature. Nothing humbles me more. I cherish the sacrifice, and in those hours, days, months, I am the strongest woman I’ve ever been, fueling my passion to become the strongest mother the world has ever seen.
  2. Watching them grow– It’s bittersweet to watch your babies growing so quickly into the unique people they’ll be. Part of you wishes they could be babies forever, part of you wants them out of the house for all but holidays. They are so beautiful, you hope to capture every quirky grin and cute costume and milestone. They are so beautiful, and you cannot help but to think of the future, when people will desire them, and you hope you’ve taught them well enough to choose wisely.
  3. Learning from them– Being a mother has taught me an enormous amount. From how I behave when I’m disappointed to how to unconditionally love someone. But I’ve not only learned emotional lessons; teaching them forces me to learn things, pleasing them forces me to try things, keeping them safe has given me the drive to create harmony in our household, and they constantly inspire me to be the best mama I can be.

 

Other mama bloggers who deserve this award (even if they’re not blogging about being mothers):

 

Thanks again, Julia!!!

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A Letter to My Unborn Child February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dear Nohra Florence,

Hello my darling 🙂 How are you in there? I hear that things must be a little cramped by now. I feel you moving slightly and I am comforted by your gentle strokes. Sometimes you like to jab and poke, but you’re being fairly kind to my body at the moment. Thank you!

I am so excited that you’ll be earth-side soon! I have been unable to sleep these past few nights because I’m so anxious for your arrival 🙂 I really need my strength and energy for labor and birthing, so I should try to rest as much as possible, but it has been difficult to get everything prepared for you and find the time to rest too. Don’t worry though. Your mama is a very strong woman and I will push through my lack-of-sleep to make sure that you arrive earth-side safely. Mama’s name means strength. Did you know that? People call me Jet, but my real name is Brigette (pronounced Bri-Jet), and it means strength; its alternate meanings are “high goddess” and “exalted one.” Name meanings are so important!

Your name has a special meaning too. Nohra means honor, or honorable. It is an honor to be your mother, to know you, to be your friend. Your sisters are honored to have you join our family, and we have no doubts that the world will be grateful for your honorable soul to make its impact. You are already amazing to me, and I am so pleased to have the honor of meeting you…soon!

I chose your name for several reasons. I decided on the German version of the more commonly seen N-o-r-a and N-o-r-a-h spellings. Your father is of German and Swedish descent, but since our last name is Swedish I figured we could pay tribute to both sides of his heritage by spelling your name the way I have. You’ll also notice similarities between your name and your sisters’ names; everyone’s name is five letters long and ends with the letters “R-A.” That began by accident, but I continued the trend for you. Amara’s name means unfading and eternal, personifying the elements of nature. Terra’s name means earth or soil, from that which our sustenance is derived. Your name completes the circle. Your name signifies the way I feel about living, being a part of the life cycle, and being able to contribute to mankind. It is an honor. As are you.

I hope you don’t find your name and its spelling to be a nuisance; I’m sure you’ll have to constantly correct people. I have that same problem when using my real name, and your sisters are already being initiated into the no-one-pronounces-or-spells-your-name-right-the-first-time club. None of us will ever find our names pre-printed on mugs or key chains or any other gift shop paraphernalia. I apologize for that. I think it’s more exciting to have things custom made anyway though, and I hope you’ll come to agree 🙂

Your middle name is Florence, my great grandmother’s name. My mother’s mother’s mother. She was a big part of my childhood and I love her dearly. She was born on December 25, 1923 and she is still alive today. She will be so happy when she’s able to meet you! Florence means blossoming, flourishing, and charming. I am sure you will be all of those things. You sisters, who wanted your first name to be Florence due to their infatuation with Florence Welch, also have family names for their middle names. I love how your name sounds and I love its significance. I hope you grow to enjoy being called Nohra Florence.

My due date is tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to come out yet. I trust you and I will be patient for you to choose when to begin your journey. You are considered “breech” in a bottom-down position. Breech babies are typically delivered via cesarean section in this country, but I do not want to subject us to such torture unless absolutely necessary. I trust that you’ve chosen the best position for you, and I will work with whatever you do. Please don’t feel obligated to position yourself in a way that isn’t comfortable for you. Mama will manage regardless.

There are so many things that I look forward to with being your mother. There is so much to teach you, experience with you, enjoy watching you learn on your own. One day you may look back at this letter, at this time in our lives before your arrival and wonder how I could possibly be excited about bringing another child into such a world, but it is times like these and situations like ours that make new life so vital to human existence. If nothing more, please know that I love you. You are perfect just the way you are, and I vow to do everything possible to help you reach your potential. I am already so proud to call you my daughter. I will work tirelessly to be worthy of being your mama.

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2.10.13

Unconditional Love and Gratitude,

Jet (The Mama)

 

Blizzard Baby Prep February 8, 2013

These past few days have been crazy. The girls and I did so much shopping that I think they’ll want to avoid leaving the house for several weeks. As I type, the cars are being covered by the snow in our condo parking lot. It looks nasty out there but I am extremely content. I’m excited to see what it will look like come morning.

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The girls are excited to play in the snow, but I am so exhausted from shopping and cleaning that I think I’ll need a recuperation day. We went to the post office to make sure I had enough stamps for baby announcements and to send some mailings out. We went to the pharmacy to fill a prescription so I won’t have to worry about it a few weeks from now (when it will actually need to be filled). We went to the library to return CD’s and a book I’d checked out. We went to a laboratory to turn in a prenatal test I’d completed. We went to PetCo to stock up on Gerbil supplies, We went to Home Depot for batteries and whatnot. We went to the craft store to stock up on supplies for making Montessori materials. We went to Target for the California Baby diaper cream, breastmilk storage bags, and all the other items I needed in order to feel “ready” for Baby’s arrival, to Whole Foods and two other grocery stores to stock up on food. I’m probably forgetting something or somewhere.

20130207_092908_5_bestshotIt was exhausting. It took me several hours just to put away everything that we’d purchased! Surprisingly, the girls were in good spirits and were both very well behaved on each trip. I don’t want to give all of the credit to the new dual-screen DVD player or to the smartphone apps, though both came in handy. I was grateful for and pleased with the girls’ attitudes toward our intense shopping trips. I suppose I’m indebted to them now, and will have to brave the snow despite my Raynaud’s disease.

We really didn’t have to do very much blizzard prep. I was insanely prepared for Hurricane Sandy, after having been so horribly unprepared for Hurricane Irene. But Sandy never showed up in my neighborhood so I already had all of the extra water and candles and whatnot stocked. I focused more on the cleaning; everyone had a bath, the dishes are washed, the laundry is clean, the gerbil cage is clean, etc. If we lose power I do not want dirty dishes. If I have a homebirth I need to have enough clean linen.

20130207_093106_4_bestshotSo far no labor. I expect that she’ll come on Monday, as my other two came at almost exactly 40 weeks (Amara was one day after I was due and Terra was one day before). She is still breech as far as I know, but I never did make it to get another ultrasound. I am excited, and nervous as well. The fact that I’m going to have another child in a few days (give or take) is surreal. It’s really happening. I’m going to go through labor again. I’m going to push again. I’m going to feel that ring of fire again (…but I might not want to think too much about that). I’m going to hold a newborn baby girl in my arms and cry tears of joy.

I have been so anxious that I cannot get much sleep. OMG Baby is coming! I’d like to lounge around, watch TV, and fill out some sections of her memory book, but I have laundry to fold and homework to complete. I hope that Baby waits for the blizzard to pass by before making her appearance. Just in case she doesn’t, I’d better get to folding and studying.

Stay safe everyone!

 

Due in 1 Week with Baby #3 February 4, 2013

Last week was an awfully trying week. Both of my little girls were sick and the weight of being a single parent was heavier than usual. The girls’ illnesses affected everything else. The dirty cups overran the sink, each having contained two to four ounces of a clear liquid; a multitude of cups used at once to encourage the girls to drink from the variety. The laundry kept piling up as everything was getting wet with one disgusting substance after the next. I got hardly any sleep; if no one was vomiting on me she was wide awake and wailing, having slept away the afternoon.

OverwhelmedCatI pushed through it, somehow. I really didn’t have a choice.

Maybe it’s the hormones of my impending delivery or maybe I’m just more depressed lately, but I cannot stop considering the bigger picture of my life. It looks like a catastrophe from a distance. How the hell am I going to get by? How am I supposed to manage caring for four human beings? How am I going to get through graduate school with all of these other responsibilities? How am I going to make it through these next few weeks without crumbling?

I keep finding my finger on the button with his name on it. Just one slip and I’d be calling him. I know I shouldn’t. I know it would just bring me down. What would he say if he answered? Surely nothing to ease my suffering at this point. What could he say to make this better? What could I believe from his lips even if they spoke the perfect words? What if a girl answered? Sigh.

I have more important things to consider at this time. I cannot get caught up worrying myself about his life.

Baby is still breech. I am willing to do whatever it takes to avoid having a c-section. I’m due in one week, but Baby might need more time to turn so I’ll be patient with her. These next few weeks may include hypnosis, acupuncture, a lot of time upside down, and if all else fails, a version. I’m not afraid of going past my due date, that doesn’t concern me. Getting cut open and needing weeks to heal while I’m alone taking care of three babies concerns me.

The Braxton Hicks contractions are coming on stronger and more frequently these days. My appetite is nearly non-existent. I’ve missed the past three weeks of sessions with my therapist so that’s probably another reason for the funk that I’ve been in. I just want to give Baby a happy, healthy welcome. I want to shower her with my affection, not postpartum depression. I want to be a good example for all of my girls. It’s just so hard to handle it all lately.

I cannot believe that in give-or-take one week I will have three babies. I really don’t know how I’m going to keep it together, but I suppose I do not have any other choice.

 

The Home(birth)stretch January 25, 2013

IMAG0277I am still doing daily prep for baby, but I’d say the insanity of nesting hit its peak a week or so ago. I finally got the bookcase disassembled and made a run to our storage unit. I’ve got her crib set up, all besides the mobile. I’ve got her dresser cleaned out, but I’ve yet to fill it with her clothes. I’ve got the cloth diaper supply ready to be washed and sorted. I’ve managed to move all of the baby gear from the cellar to the living room, but I’ve yet to assemble anything.

There are still things that need to be done. Washing all of the covers to her various seats, washing my boppy pillow and her tummy-time mat, washing the stroller and her shopping cart thingy. Maybe I am still nesting…but I’m not feeling as incapable of balancing it all lately. I’ve reached a peace with this pregnancy. Now that I’m due in just over two weeks, it’s all a little bit easier to handle.

Not that the pulled groin muscle, pain in my hips, pressure in my pelvis, and continuous sleep shortage are easy to deal with, I just don’t want to complain about them anymore. Maybe I’m trying to build character. I’ll need it when I’m in labor.

It’s nearly impossible not to think about how the birth will be. I’m trying to keep the thoughts on how I’ll handle the actual labor and delivery, instead of contemplating how it’s going to feel with him not there beside me. There are good reasons why he should not be at the birth, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

This has been so difficult. I’m full-term pregnant and I may be extremely hormonal, but being in my situation would be challenging either way. I cannot help but to look back and think about how much different life was before the conception of this baby.

Nine months ago I couldn’t have ever conceived of there being a time in the future where I’d go over six months without speaking to my husband. Nine months ago I couldn’t have imagined being pregnant, single, still in graduate school, victim to a felony, seeking a divorce. No…those just weren’t the thoughts I was thinking. DSC07109

So baby is coming soon, and the rush of birthing and the anxiety of transition and the newness of change makes me want to reach out for something old and comfortable and reliable, like being his Babydoll. I want to hear him call me by my pet-name again. I want to hug him while he’s shirtless and breathe in the scent of his skin. I want to run my fingers through his hair. I want him to validate me. I want him to possess me.

I do not really. But the familiarity of my marriage is my latest craving. I want to call him. I want to hear his voice. I want to hear him say that he still loves me. I want to know where he is and how he’s doing and whether or not he still thinks I’m pretty. I want to find out if he’s seeing somebody.

But he is not mine any longer, and I should not contact him. I know better than to think that just because he tells me sweet nothings something will change. I’d be a fool to have built up my strength for nine months and then give it all away in one conversation. I must remain strong, and alone.

It does get harder though, knowing that our third daughter will arrive any day now. I wonder if she’ll ever know her father. I wonder if he’ll even care about her at all. I wonder if he thinks this entire situation (court cases, failed marriage, fatherless children, etc) is my fault.

But I should spend my time assembling the swing and washing everything. I should not brood over what he might say were I to call him. I need to continue to build my strength, not slip back and allow myself to be weakened once again by his words, his eyes, his demeanor. This time should be about my daughters, my household, my impending homebirth. It’s just so hard to build a nest when someone significant has been banished from it.

 

Deliver Me January 14, 2013

I am 36 weeks along today. Full term in one week with Baby #3.  I keep thinking that maybe if I say it enough, maybe if it’s written, maybe if it’s published it will seem more believable.

But this still feels like a dream. At times it has been a nightmare.

Somehow it was nearly eight full months ago that The Big Incident occurred. I found out that I was pregnant just over two weeks later. Being pregnant throughout this transition has made all the difference in the world.

The pregnancy has given me the strength to focus on something other than my feelings for him. Through it all, I still love him. I still miss the parts of him that weren’t abusive. I still wish there was some way it could have worked. Especially now, four weeks away from the birth of our third baby.

Every other pregnancy brought me back to him, but I knew that I could not allow myself to submit this time. I knew that I could not go through another pregnancy praying that this baby might help him to treat me better. Maybe if the baby were a boy? Maybe then he would think I was worthy?

The pregnancy kept me from going into a stupor. I could not let myself slip away. I could not bury my feelings in alcohol or illegal substances. I’ve had to face my situation without anything to numb the pain. I’ve had to continue eating, although I wanted to mentally and physically fade away.

This pregnancy has kept me focused. I remember vividly the feelings that I carried throughout my previous pregnancies. The constant wishing that we would be more unified by the baby. The contrasting resentment over being pregnant, being trapped with him again, because I knew deep down that things weren’t ever going to change.

Every pregnancy made me want more, but every baby born or lost led to worse treatment.

Had I not gone to the police the night of The Big Incident…had I gone through another honeymoon phase and allowed myself to be wooed again…the cycle would have certainly continued. I was so afraid. How could I leave him? How would I manage three children? How would I finish school? How could I reach my goals if I let him go?

This time the debate wasn’t as difficult. This time he was already gone when the pregnancy was confirmed. This time I could look at my restraining order instead of listening to his voice. This time I had vivid nightmares to remind me of The Big Incident, and a healing body to match the memories. In the weeks after The Big Incident I had no time to brood over everything I missed about him. I had to figure out how I was going to feed my daughters, pay our rent, stay in Massachusetts to finish my education. How could I possibly manage everything? How could I keep us safe from his vengeance?

Being pregnant has made me want to go back to him; I feel so dependent on our family unit when I’m carrying his seed. But how could I take him back after The Big Incident? How could I ignore the history of what occurred during and after my other pregnancies? In the end I knew that allowing him to return after The Big Incident would be allowing him to control me forever.

I had to do things differently this time. I would not allow another child to go through what my other two have already been through. I would not continue to raise them under his reign, trying to be the buffer between his rage and their safety. I would not allow them to grow up thinking that love was supposed to look that way. Things had to change. I did not have the strength to be apologetic to another baby for bringing her into the hell that was our household while he was in it.

Soon I will give birth to my third baby, but I cannot keep from feeling as though she has helped to deliver me.

 

28 down, 12 to go December 14, 2012

I cannot really believe it, at this point I am still in shock.

degreeMy last final for the semester was due at 8pm and I got it in at 7:59. Complete! 28 credits of my graduate school coursework down, and only 12 more credits to go before I have my Master’s!

Despite all of the negativity in my life at the moment and all that it took just to get here, to stay here…I am so close. I know I’m going to make it.

Yes, next semester I’ll have a newborn and two other children. I’ll have even less money, no job, and no one helping me, but I will still take a class. Such is life when you’re living off of loan money. During the summer I’ll take two more courses, and then I will finally have the degree of my dreams!

I am so excited that my three daughters will get to see me walk the stage at my graduation. I know they won’t quite understand the significance of graduating, nor will they be able to contemplate the complexity of my journey, but one day they will be extremely proud of me, and on my graduation day I’m certain that they’ll cheer, “Go Mama!” like always. I love their encouragement. I couldn’t push through this without them.

Amara Sleeping - Less than one week old

Amara sleeping – Less than one week old

I made it through the semester, and not by the skin of my teeth. I’m quite sure that I will receive an A in both classes, I successfully handed over my student organization presidency without letting the organization fall apart, and I bonded with several classmates.

I functioned on three hours of sleep for more than 75% of it all, somehow. That was very unhealthy of me, but I survived it, and now I will take the next few days to do absolutely nothing (except light household chores, and things that really interest me). I will try to take a short break from the overwhelming state of my life and just recuperate.

In eight short weeks I will be having my third baby, and plenty needs to take place before she arrives, but for these next few nights I want to revel in my glory. I did something amazing. I didn’t let myself quit. I deserve a bit of sleep for it.