Monday, September 3, 2007

Hopes and Dreams and Homemade baby food

I've always had kids who knew their own minds.

When I got pregnant with what would be my first child - after several miscarriages and not getting married until I was 34, I had all these dreams of how I was going to do things.
Lamaze, nursing, homeschooling, raising happy, obedient children.

Yeah. Right! Hahahahahaha.

I have heard it said that if we want to hear God laugh, tell him what were going to do.

First, I was going to have "natural" child birth. Which was actually ok, until the back labor/back muscle cramps converged and quit giving me a break between the contraction and the "Charlie horse" (muscle spasms) in my back. I was handling everything just fine until there was no break in the pain at all. OWW No pain meds? Who said that? I want MORPHINE. NOW! lol

Second, it was a good thing I had been a medic and paramedic. When at 30 weeks, my back was hurting so badly I couldn't sleep, I went into the bathroom and decided to read a book (I just couldn't be labor, it was all in my mind.) and write down every time I started hurting, how long it lasted (1 1/2 mins) and how long between me hurting (5 minutes). After about 15 mins., I called the MD. I went to the hospital and they spent 4 days trying to stop labor. They had enough time to push some Betamethazone, which matures the baby's lungs. It takes 4 days to work.

By the night of day 3 1/2, I couldn't breath. I had been short of breath all through the pregnancy. Ok, so was somewhat overweight (I'd kill to be that small again. sigh)
Pregnant women can't breath. No problem.

At 5 am, I finally told the nurse, who had worked on the pulmonary floor for 14 years. She got her stethoscope listened for about 10 seconds and flew into action.

By 6am I had 7 MD's and 4 nurses discussing what to do with me. They decided that they needed to deliver my daughter. So they started pushing meds. You haven't lived until you've had Lasix pushed. When you're in labor. It causes fluids to be drawn out of your body and you have to go to the bathroom, constantly - like pregnant women don't have to already? So they put in a catheter. Labor makes you thirsty - you're breathing rather hard - especially when they've pushed Pitocin too. So here I am, dying of thirst - no drinking allowed! They're trying to get RID of fluid in my lungs. I've got Pitocin causing me to go into labor - after spending 4 days pushing Magnesium Sulfate to STOP labor. Need I mention that this was not fun. They gave me some pain meds, but guess what? By the time I really needed it, it had worn off.

So I called to the MD for some more. When she finally came into the room, she and the nurse were talking. She told the nurse, "when the head's down, we can give her some more pain meds." So .............I VERY quickly lowered the head of the bed. And I looked up at them and said, "the head's down!" And nobody paid me any attention. (Did I mention I had been a paramedic who excelled in OB/GYN and Pediatrics?) (For those of you who haven't had a child yet, they were talking about the baby's head being ready to be delivered, not the head of the bed being down!)

So the dear one is born at 6:20pm. In excellent health. APGARs of 9 and 10. Small (3lbs 8oz. but screaming her head off. In fact, I became known as "the mom with the baby with the good lungs." (On occasion, she STILL has good lungs. lol) They whisk her off to the NICU.

So much for bonding and keeping her in my room.

When I brought my 4lb 3oz twenty-two day old daughter home from the hospital, I planned on nursing her. Well, because of being 9 weeks premature, bilirubin (jaundice) problems and them wanting her to put on weight, they supplemented her with bottles. She was eating more than I could produce. I had one side that produced more milk than the other - due to expressing milk for her. Why was this a problem? It was the side she couldn't latch on to that had all the milk. In fact, all my kids had trouble latching on to that side.

So I went through the hassle of expressing the milk, feeding it to her, cleaning her and the equipment up every 3 hours. At my daughter's 3 month check up, the MD, who had nursed all her kids, took one look at me and told me that while she appreciated my efforts, my daughter needed a mom more than she needed breast milk. I was dead on my feet. (Let's see, it takes about 40 mins to feed the baby - premies are slow eaters. With a home pump, takes about an hour to express milk. It takes 10 mins to package, label, freeze the milk and clean the equipment. To start again 3 hours from the last time I started. I just can't imagine why I was dead) So I cried all the way home.

But I knew she was right, so I weaned my daughter - which took all of no time for her, but about a week for me. And I cried. And I felt like a failure. So much for bonding AND nursing.

Time moves on and it becomes time to start her on food. Now remember, I'm an older mom. All the babies in my family ate baby food from a jar. My mom, before she went home, dutifully purchased baby food so I could start feeding her - when she was a couple of weeks old. That's how she did it, that's how I should correctly do it too. then I knew better than to feed a baby that young. In fact, I believe she was 6-7 months old before she got more than a tablespoon or two of rice cereal. But...., finally the big day came. I dutifully opened the jar of peas, put a taste in my child's mouth. You'd have thought I was poisoning her. The looks she gave me were incredible. "What the ...?, followed by disgusted, followed by betrayal, followed by... good lungs at work. So, I tried another flavor. Same response. Truth be told, the only jars of food she'd eat was orange. Which meant either carrots or pumpkin.

Rules are that ya gotta give 'em more than that. So I got desperate. Finally, I cooked up some green beans, whirled them in a blender, and with fear and trepidation, gave her a taste. Her eyes shot wide, she smiled and opened for more.

That's when I learned that cooking your own baby food was easier than opening a jar. And about 6 times as cheap! Back then, I could buy a 16 oz. polybag of frozen green beans or peas for about
59 cents. Or I could buy 2 of those little jars of food for 50 cents. Being poor, it didn't take me long to figure out that the child had done me a favor!

So I would buy frozen vegies, cook each kind individually, puree them (separately) in the blender, then put them in an ice cube tray and place that in the freezer. Actually, it usually took a couple of trays. In a couple of hours, the trays would be frozen, I'd pop the cubes into a (labeled - peas and green beans look alike!) ziplock and back into the freezer. When I needed to feed her, I'd pop out however many cubes she was eating at the time, melt them in a little pan (this was before I had a microwave. Subsequent kids, the food got nuked.) and would feed them to her. She was happy, I was happy, our budget was VERY happy.
And I did the same thing with fresh, canned or frozen fruit. (I bought the no sugar/low sugar cans or frozen.)

The nice thing is, the cubes are portable. Perhaps even more so than the little jars. They will stay frozen in a container for a while and will keep for several hours at room temp and still be quite cool. You only take how many cubes you know the baby will eat, so you don't have to open and then throw out the rest of a jar of uneaten food. (Or worry about keeping it cold enough to use again.)

As she got older, I bought a baby food mill. The kind that has a little grinder attachment at the top that covers a collapsing tube. You put the food into the top, put the little grind crank thingy on top of that, then push down on the tube until the food comes into contact with your grinder. Then you just twist the crank and push a little on the tube and the food grinds up through a grate. It has a high lip on it, so the food can be served right from the grinder.

So from frozen vegies and blended fruits, we went to table food in the grinder, to Cherio's (a brand of oat cereal that's shaped like little O's) that she could feed herself, to small chunks of table food. (Did I mention that my kids have all had minds of their own?)

They all refused to eat from the jars. (I didn't buy the stuff, but others would gift us with some.)
They all started eating finger foods as soon as their little fists could find their mouths - ever try to feed a 7 month old? With mine, there was a constant fight for control of the spoon. Giving them their own spoon resulted in injury to mom or it being dropped in favor of the one I was using. So I figured, why fight it?) I just made sure to stay close by and made sure that what I gave them either was very hard and large enough they wouldn't choke on it, then they could suck on until they dissolved it or was "gummable", or was something that got soft VERY quickly - like many dried cereals.

Homeschooling worked until my youngest decided to run away to dad's with tales of us not "doing school". She has spent the last two years playing dumb with me. Whatever work I'd give her, she'd pretend she "just didn't know how to do it." I tried working with her, but she wouldn't put any effort into doing the work, she just wanted me to hold her hand and talk her through each problem. (Let's see, I have 3 years of college under my belt, I don't think I need to practice doing multiplication problems.) She was behaving like this in every area of her life. I tried scolding, pleading, threatening and consequences. Perhaps I should have tried spanking. But I so hate that. It's a huge gun that I only use when the kid look at me and then does what I just told them not to do. Even then, I don't care to do it and I try everything else before resorting to that.

So I decided that since she was doing it for attention, that the more I fussed (and her siblings would call her on it too.), the more it was re-enforcing the undesirable behavior. So I just put stuff up and left her alone. She could read books. I turned off the cable. I really couldn't afford it anyway, we never watched the network channels. Without cable, we have no tv - there's no reception here. Anyway, I'd try her again with the work and when the same behavior manifested itself, I'd put the work away. After all, I pretty well knew that she would outgrow the behavior and then it wouldn't take us too long to "catch up".

I didn't count on dad getting her to come live with him. He has tried this with all 3 kids. The oldest actually did go live with him over the summer before this last one. My oldest went there to work for them and stayed because it was easier than them having to come and get her every morning. (they live in the next county over and the work was near their house.) She wasn't mad at me, they just had work for her to do. Well, at the end of the summer, she decided she'd stay permanently. They enrolled her in homeschool themselves. Suddenly, the week after she said she'd stay, they had no work for her to do. She was just to babysit her step-niece and nephews for free. Then 3 weeks after saying she'd stay, step-mom and she got into a fight and stepmom, to whom the house belongs, kicked her out.

I was sure my youngest was smart enough to see what had happened to her sister and not take the bait. But I was wrong.

Anyway, she got mad at me because "no one here loves her" (I was sick and wouldn't take her to the lake Memorial weekend.) and decided she'd get her stepmom to pick her up without telling me and that then she'd stay at dad's.

I've got a court order that seems to not be worth the paper it's written on. But unless I get the money to hire an attorney, there's nothing I can do about her being at dad's - despite the criminal record he's recently acquired and the domestic violence at their house.

She got him to put her in school. Her dad and stepmom "know" people in the school system in the county in which she lives and they put her two grades behind. (She just went in and messed around on the tests.) But now, she's getting such good grades, they made her student of the month. (And I wasn't teaching her??!! I wonder how she's gone to the head of the class so fast?) So, everyone over there is petting on her and showering her with attention. I was hoping she'd get tired of the problems over there and come home. I was also hoping that dear dad and stepmom would get tired of having her there. But they see a way out of paying child support. (all $100 a week for 3 kids) So much for homeschooling her.

I'll have to get back to you on the happy/obedient part. The jury is still out on that one.

So just when you're ready to go belly up, they surprise the daylights out of you.

I had invited a couple from church to dinner tonight. I've had a tooth bothering me off and on for a week and today, I was feeling a little poorly. Then my daughter's work schedule was changed, so she had to go to work at 4:20. She washed her clothes (and some others) and put them in the dryer. She pulled her khaki work pants out, and there, right in the front is green food dye. So I spent 40 mins getting the stain out and trying to get the pants dried with the iron. I hustle her off to work in still damp pants and then drive home.

A few minutes later, my friends show up. We talk and I apologize for not even having started dinner. They tell me they will go, but hey, my 15 ds and I need to eat and to make a plate for the dd at work, so they may as well stay. So while I'm talking with them, my son is in the kitchen washing up a few dishes. Next thing I know, I hear the sounds of food cooking. In about 30 mins, he comes out, sets the table and begins putting food on the table. He'd made two kinds of pasta, sauce, green beans and salad. And it was tasty too! After everyone was done, he gets up and starts clearing the table. I was so impressed with his thoughtfulness. No one asked him to do it or even hinted that he should do it.

(Not to leave big sis out. She's a good worker and she helps out around the house too. They both try to contributes to the family finances.)

Ok, so I guess I'll keep 'em all.

And we'll all just pray for the runaway that she will make good choices and that perhaps she'll come home soon - with a better attitude, and that the rest of us will get over being upset with her. An attitude adjustment for all would probably be a good thing.

So maybe my life is not working out the way I had planned. Maybe yours isn't either.

But it seems like the important thing to note is this: for the most part, things ARE working out. It just takes hanging in there and realizing that while life may not be working out as YOU planned, it is working out in a way that, in the long run will benefit you and your family. All ya gotta do is hang in there and keep putting one foot in front of the other!

Some of the things that, at the time seemed like they were my greatest trials and heartaches have turned out, over time, to be some of my greatest blessing and periods of my greatest growth as a human being. The trick has been to just keeping doing my best each day and realizing that my "best" on one day may be more or even less than my same "best" is on another. "Best" is just that. You're doing what you are able to do with the time, talents, and challenges that you have.

It's rather like a story I once heard.

As a teen, a young man was involved with a diving team. He and his friends had nice things and their parents could afford to pay for them to be on the team. Also on the team was a young man who's family couldn't pay for him to have nice things and he was on scholarship with the team.

It seems that the other young men were rather proud boys and gave this other boy a rather hard time. While they were perfecting their swan dives, this boy was trying to do advanced dives.

A meet came up and the team went to compete. The first young man was paying careful attention to the leader board. After all, he was ahead. These young men were doing their perfect swan dives and other easier dives - and doing an excellent job of it. The other young man was trying to do advanced dives and making quite a splash as he did so. In the water, not with the judges, or so it seemed.

At the end of the meet, the author was just sure he had won the meet. He was very shocked and angry when the poor young man beat him out for first place. He stormed over to the judges demanding to know what was going on. HE had been first, HE had done the best dives. The other boy didn't properly complete some of his dives, he was near the bottom of the boards, how could THAT young man win?

The judges acknowledged that yes, the first had done some nice dives and that the other boy did do some pretty ugly dives. But then the judge went on to explain that while the other boy was doing ugly dives, the boy was also doing dives with a greater level of difficulty, greater than any of the others had even tried. At the end of the match, the points for difficulty were factored into the scores and that's how the other boy surpassed all those in front of him and placed first.

So it is in our lives. Some of us are called on to make dives with a greater degree of difficulty. Only we and God may know just how difficult our life is. Others may look at us and scoff. They may get more done than we seem to be able to do. Their kids may turn out "better" than ours seems to be turned out. They might have nicer things. They may "Mother of the Year." And we feel badly about ourselves. Sometimes we judge ourselves too harshly. We fail to "factor in the level of difficulty" on what we're trying to accomplish.

The thing is, until we know the level of difficulty that we or anyone else is called upon to do, we need not judge them OR ourselves against them. Because in the end, only one Judge knows and can factor in the difficulty of what we or anyone else has tried to do. The person who is so sure that they are the "winner" may find out that another, who's life has been far less "perfect", may in actuality have accomplished much more with what they had to work with than the first person accomplished with what THEY had to work with.

Moral of the story? Don't compare yourself to your neighbor. You're in no position to correctly identify the loser of that competition.


Anonymous said...

In college what did you major in?
Also what Is your field of work right now? If you do not mind me asking.

Darlene said...

I was a Theater Arts major who transfered to Paramedic studies. I have worked for the last 7 years as custodian - part-time, for my church. Recently, I also started doing data entry for a friend's business.